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Legendary Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American to make it big in Hollywood and receive international recognition, will be part of the new American Women QuartersTM Program with a new U.S. quarter designed in her honor.

Born in 1905 in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese American parents, she overcame racism and discrimination in Hollywood.  She was hired on as an “extra” for a 1919 film, “The Red Lantern.”  In the early1920s, she was being relegated to bit roles only, but eventually emerged as a star, and went from silent films to “talkies.”

Her career continued to be limited by American anti-miscegenation laws, which prevented her from sharing an on-screen kiss with persons of another race, even if the character was Asian, but being portrayed by a white actor.  Tired of being both typecast and passed over for lead Asian character roles, which were given to non-Asian actresses, Wong left Hollywood in 1928 for Europe where she became a sensation, starring in notable films such as “Schmutziges Geld” (1928) and “Großstadtschmetterling” (1929).

In 1930, American studios went to Europe looking for fresh talent and, ironically, Wong caught their eye!  Paramount Studios offered her a contract.  She appeared in “Daughter of the Dragonand “Shanghai Express.”  But despite her rising stardom, she was still being cast in stereotypical roles.

During World War II, she devoted her time and money to help the Chinese cause against Japan.  In the 1950s, she returned to public eye, making a few television appearances, including the first U.S. TV series starring an Asian American lead, “The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong.”

Wong passed away in 1961 from a heart attack.  She appeared in more than 60 movies throughout her career.

Other notable women included on the quarters program are poet Maya Angelou; Wilma Mankiller, the Cherokee Nation's first female principal chief; suffrage leader Adelina Otero-Warren; and Sally Ride, first U.S. women astronaut in space.

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The Anna May Wong Quarter is the fifth coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program

 

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