ANNA MAY WONG: EMPRESS OF CHINATOWN
Born in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, Wong’s early days of working for her father’s laundry made her meticulous about dressing. Since her father wanted a boy, she watched her sister wear masculine clothes to appease him, and this would in time inspire her androgynous onscreen presence, a quality she shared with Marlene Dietrich, with whom she would be glamorously paired in Josef Von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express. Thanks to her preternatural beauty, Wong was modeling fur coats by the age of ten, and by the time she was a teenager she had broken into the movie business—not a time exceedingly receptive to screen testing Asian faces. Throughout her career Wong would bridle at the exoticized roles she was handed, even taking off for Europe when Hollywood disappointed her, but she approached every film with incredible grace and dignity, and what remains of her through the years is a seductive, incredibly chic, and startlingly modern screen presence.