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Thread: A star for James Hong on Hollywood Walk of Fame

  1. #1
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    A star for James Hong on Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Aug 6, 2020 3:52pm PT
    Daniel Dae Kim Launches Fundraiser to Nominate James Hong for Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
    By Janet W. Lee


    James Hong

    UPDATE: The GoFundMe to raise money to get James Hong a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has reached its goal of more than $55,000 in just three days.

    Daniel Dae Kim won’t rest until Hong has a Hollywood star. The actor launched a GoFundMe page on Wednesday to campaign for Hong’s nomination to the Walk of Fame. The goal is to raise $55,000 to pay for the “creation and installation of the star.”

    Ken Jeong retweeted Kim’s call to action.

    “We all know what an important part of Hollywood lore the Walk of Fame has been over the years,” Kim wrote on the fundraising page. “Tourists from around the world flock to these star-studded blocks stretching across Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. If you’re reading this you probably agree that James deserves to be among them.”

    Hong is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood history, with 672 credits — 469 TV shows, 149 feature films, 32 short films and 22 video games. He voiced Po’s father, Mr. Ping, in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise, and starred in several notable films, including “Blade Runner,” “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Chinatown.”

    Kim highlighted the significance of Hong’s career to other actors of color. The “Hawaii Five‑0” alum wrote that his predecessor opened several doors, especially for younger Asian American artists.
    James Hong was very supportive of Tiger Claw for many years. He was the MC at our 10 Year Anniversary. I had the unique opportunity to join him for a Miss Chinatown reception many years ago (before selfies sadly). He's a true industry veteran and has such enthralling tales once you get him talking.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
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    James Hong definitely deserves his star on the Walk of Fame. He should have gotten it years ago.

    I saw James Hong once in person, at the 1997 Tat Wong International tournament in SF. The only reason I found out was Tat Wong announced his presence in the audience over the speaker system, and he stood up to applause. Then he sat back down to continue spectating. Apparently, he enjoyed watching CMA competitions. I never went up to meet him, though. I tend not to approach people like that unless we’re being introduced by someone else.

  3. #3
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    I was probably at that tournament too.

    I don't remember that however. I've been to so many tournaments that they get hazy and I've crossed paths with James so many times that it doesn't stick out anymore, although I haven't seen him in years.

    He was an avid CMA fan and practiced some Tai Chi and Qigong but never made a fuss about that, not like he ever proclaimed to be a master or anything. He just enjoyed the practice.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  4. #4
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    672 credits

    Aug 26, 2020 1:07pm PT
    Why a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Isn’t Enough to Honor James Hong
    By Janet W. Lee


    Amanda Edwards/Getty Images
    James Hong is everywhere.

    No, really — at the spry age of 91, he is one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood history, with 672 credits to his name. He’s starred in several notable films, including “Blade Runner” and “Big Trouble in Little China,” and voiced Po’s father, Mr. Ping, in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise. His TV resume includes a slew of classics such as “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and both versions of “Hawaii Five-0.” He also has an upcoming movie, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” in which he plays father to Michelle Yeoh’s character.

    “I could just relax and tour the world, but I don’t want to do that,” Hong tells Variety in his third Zoom call ever. “My occupation is an actor, producer and I’m a little too old to be a director, but that’s tempting.”

    The longtime actor is in the spotlight after Daniel Dae Kim launched a GoFundMe campaign on Aug. 5 to get Hong a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nomination for the Class of 2022 honorees isn’t until spring, but Kim told Hong he wanted to start fundraising in advance, to allow ample time to secure the $50,000 price tag required to apply for a star. Kim and fellow actors Randall Park, Ming-Na Wen and Ken Jeong even promised a virtual conversation with anyone who donates $5,000 or more.

    Hong was unaware of the campaign until Kim emailed him, days before it launched. And before Hong could reach out to his relatives for donations, the grassroots fundraiser ended, in three days, collecting more than $55,000 from 1,700 donors.

    “When Daniel told me, ‘James, don’t do anything, it’s over,’ I thought he could be fibbing. Can you imagine someone just giving $55,000 or even donating $10, $50, $100 in a pandemic to boost my star on the Walk of Fame? Can’t even imagine that,” says Hong.

    “I worked hard — comedy, drama, in all fields — and there isn’t a role I can think of that I didn’t work hard on,” he continues, playing coy about his popularity online. “I can’t say how gratifying it is to have this support, because I haven’t received an Academy Award or anything, and people support me as if they know me — like I’m the guy next door.”

    But Hong’s rise to stardom did not come easily — it took him nearly 70 years.

    The first-generation Chinese American actor grew up in Minneapolis, where he perfected his impressions in front of the mirror. Hiding his acting aspirations from his parents, he studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, until he was drafted to serve in the Korean War. When he returned in 1953, Hong moved to Hollywood with a friend, under the guise of finishing his degree at the University of Southern California.

    While he couldn’t escape the stereotypical roles assigned to AAPI actors at the time, namely “villains, immigrants being rescued by the white guys or gimmicky, ch–ky roles with heavy accents,” Hong didn’t let the industry’s narrow lens limit his talent. “I took those roles because they were the only ones available. But I did the best as an actor to overcome the clichéness, tried to show what makes the person really that person.”

    The following year, he had a breakthrough performance on Groucho Marx’s quiz show, “You Bet Your Life,” with his Marx impression. Then after starring in small roles in films with John Wayne and Clark Gable, both of whom Hong looked up to at the time, he began asking himself, “When will James Hong get to play main roles?”

    Hong didn’t settle with Hollywood’s response, but set out to carve his own path. Joined by Japanese-American actor Mako Iwamatsu, in 1965, he founded East West Players — the Asian-American theater company in Los Angeles — to advocate for AAPI actors and to produce “not just Asian stories, but stories that speak to the community.” The company has since then nurtured other Asian-American actors, including George Takei and John Cho, paving the way for today’s Hollywood landscape.

    “I’m obviously very happy, very proud of the progress Asian Americans have made during my lifetime, but there’s still a far way to go,” he says. “It took me too long to go from nothing to where I am now, because there was no one, no producer, director to help me. But now, we must keep advancing to the highest level and share our talent with the world — because now, you can find help if you have talent.”

    Hong has one advice for AAPI actors making their mark in the industry. “I say follow Daniel Dae Kim’s example,” he says with a laugh, then adds he’s very serious. “To advance from being a great actor, to being a producer with 12 projects in line, like ‘Good Doctor’ — that’s amazing. I’m so proud of Daniel Dae Kim. In fact, I think I’ll campaign to get him a star.”
    James actually modeled for an old Tiger Claw pamphlet. I wonder if there are any of those still floating around.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
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    Minnesota's

    From 'Chinatown' to 'Kung Fu Panda': Minnesota's James Hong looks back at his prolific career
    James Hong, Minnesota's most prolific actor of all time, looks back on his storied career.
    By Neal Justin Star Tribune NOVEMBER 13, 2020 — 10:36AM


    James Hong in his Warner Bros. trailer: “Even if I was playing a part that simply said ‘Chinaman’ or ‘Villain,’ I would put my heart and soul into that being.” Provided

    James Hong may be the most accomplished actor to ever call Minnesota home. But chances are you don’t know his name.

    Some of today’s most popular Asian American actors are working to change that, launching a campaign to get the 91-year-old veteran a star next year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    “James Hong just might be the most prolific actor in Hollywood history,” said “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim when he started a crowdfunding effort to raise money for the long overdue recognition. “This man epitomizes the term ‘working actor,’ and that’s not even taking into account all he’s done to help further representation for actors of color.”

    Hong, whose body of work includes over 600 film and TV credits, couldn’t be more pleased.

    “When Daniel told me how many people have contributed, it was hard to believe,” said Hong by phone from California this fall. “Because of the coronavirus, money is hard to come by, so I’m very thankful.”

    Hong, who was born in Minneapolis in 1929 and attended Central High School, got the performance bug while doing comedy sketches as a child at Westminster Presbyterian Church and practicing impressions of stars like James Cagney in his bathroom mirror. His mimicry skills got him booked on WCCO Radio’s “Stairway to Stardom,” hosted by Cedric Adams, and Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life.”


    ELLIOTT MARKS • PARAMOUNT
    Mike Myers spars with James Hong in 1994’s “Wayne’s World 2.”

    “Groucho wasn’t interested in people who impersonated him, but he got interested when one of his writers told him that it was a Chinese boy,” Hong said. “The audience roared when I used my pen as a cigar. Then Groucho gave me a spare one. I wish I had kept that cigar.”

    That 1954 appearance led to two decades of steady work on television, including the role of “Number One Son” on “The New Adventures of Charlie Chan.”

    But despite almost immediate success in Hollywood, Hong found it difficult to land juicy parts.

    “There were no opportunities for Asian Americans to portray non-cliché roles,” he said. “All the leading roles were given to white actors who pasted their eyes up and heightened these accents. Even on ‘Charlie Chan,’ J. Carrol Naish was playing Chan. He’s obviously not Asian. The eyepieces were hurting his eyes.”

    But Hong never considered hanging it up.

    “What could you do? Stop working?” he said. “You had to take the roles that were given to you and do the best you can. So even if I was playing a part that simply said ‘Chinaman’ or ‘Villain,’ I would put my heart and soul into that being.”

    The landscape improved slightly in the mid-1970s, when Hong graduated to feature films. But he still had to fight.

    “When I got to Hollywood, too many minority actors were happy with what they were getting from white producers. They had become too complacent,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with that. I’m from Minnesota. I wasn’t treated like that. I considered myself a principle person in this walk of life and I brought that attitude to Hollywood.”

    We won’t know until next June whether Hong will be among the next class to join the Walk of Fame. In the meantime, we can celebrate some of his most iconic work:

    ‘Chinatown’ (1974)


    Evelyn Mulwray’s fiercely loyal butler doesn’t appear in too many scenes, but he plays a major part in the tragic ending. Many consider Roman Polanski’s detective tale to be among the greatest films of all time. Hong would also star in the 1990 sequel, “The Two Jakes.”

    “I didn’t even have a name in the script. I was just there to take care of my boss. Just before we shot, Faye Dunaway asked, ‘What should I call him?’ I came up with Kahn, one of my Chinese names. Faye treated me like a human being and I felt that. I became that character. I wanted to protect her. I think people saw that.”

    ‘Blade Runner’ (1982)

    In this sci-fi classic, Hong played Hannibal Chew, a genetics engineer who designs replicants’ eyes. He would reprise the role for a 1997 “Blade Runner” video game, and would go on to contribute voices to such console classics as “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and “World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.”

    “It’s hard to predict what’s going to be a classic. But the minute I stepped on that set, I said, ‘Wow, this is something new.’ It wasn’t digital. Ridley Scott built that set. You just get a feeling in your toes that this could be an iconic movie.”

    ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ (1986)


    Hong in ‘Big Trouble in Little China’
    Hong got to show off his comedy chops as David Lo Pan, a sorcerer who must marry a green-eyed Earthling to break an evil curse. Kurt Russell’s truck-loving maverick stands in his way. John Carpenter’s film initially tanked, but its nonstop action and offbeat sense of humor has since made it a cult classic.

    “Even when a script is very cliché, you try to find a real person in there. That’s why Lo Pan became an iconic character. He had heart and soul. All he wanted was a girlfriend. I put that aspect into the role.”

    ‘Seinfeld’ (1991)

    The Season 2 episode “The Chinese Restaurant” is considered the sitcom’s first genuine classic. Hong plays the unflappable head waiter who keeps promising the gang a table. It’s a masterful deadpan performance.

    “You might call that a cliché role — the maître d’ — but I think the audience saw that I brought my craftsmanship. Whatever so-called type of comedy ‘Seinfeld’ had, I blended into that. It didn’t really make sense, but for some reason it really worked.”

    ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (2008)

    It’s the franchise that keeps on giving. This animated film has spawned two sequels and a pair of TV series, as well as numerous video games and shorts. Hong’s character, the panda’s father, Mr. Ping, has appeared in almost all of them.

    “That role finally got me an Emmy nomination. I just love that character. He made love for the panda real. That’s hard to do in animation. A lot of people who have adopted children or were adopted themselves tell me they really identify with that character.”


    @nealjustin

    Neal Justin covers the entertainment world, primarily TV and radio. He also reviews stand-up comedy. Justin is the founder of JCamp, a non-profit program for high-school journalists, and works on many fronts to further diversity in newsrooms.
    Never did find one of those old Tiger Claw pamphlets but since our office was closed, I have no idea where anything is anymore.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #6
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    Asian Hall of Fame

    No pic with this article, just a vid.

    James Hong arrives at the world premiere of "Kung Fu Panda 3" at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
    ENTERTAINMENT
    Legendary Actor James Hong to Be Inducted Into Asian Hall of Fame
    BY TARA LYNN WAGNER LOS ANGELES
    PUBLISHED 3:34 PM ET NOV. 20, 2020
    LOS ANGELES — You know his face from…everything. Chinatown. Bladerunner. Big Trouble in Little China. Even Seinfeld. After more than 600 credits – the most of any actor in history – James Hong seems most comfortable when he’s slipping into a character.

    “Would you like to hear a few impersonations,” he asked, before launching into some of his favorite from back in the day.

    What You Need To Know
    James Hong has more credits than any other actor in history

    The 91-year-old has appeared in hundreds of TV shows and movies

    His credits include Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, Chinatown, and Seinfeld

    A campaign is underway to get him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
    “You dirty, dirty rat,” he says as James Cagney, before switching to Jimmy Stewart, Peter Lorre, even Elmer Fudd. He once did an impersonation of Groucho Marx on The Groucho Marx Show – and was a hit.

    “The emcee told me I got the second biggest fan mail ever on Groucho Marx Show,” he said.

    Clearly Hong is a born entertainer, with a resume that’s more than six decades long, although he wasn’t always satisfied with the parts he was getting. After a few years of working in film and television, he met with fellow actor Mako Iwamatsu and the two started talking about their careers.

    “We were saying, well, ‘what we can we do, you know?’” he recalled. “We’re not getting any roles that are non-cliché and we’re not being accepted. We were only getting the so-called gimmick roles.”

    They decided to break from those stereotypical offerings and do a play. In 1965, they founded East West Players, which today is considered the nation’s premiere Asian American theater company.

    “Definitely I did not think it would last this long,” Hong said, pointing out over the past 55 years, hundreds if not thousands of students have studied acting with EWP and countless audience members have seen shows there.

    Hong has made a name for himself as a prolific character actor. His roles aren’t always big but they are always memorable and he pours himself into each one, like Hannibal Chew, the eye designer in Bladerunner.

    “I just treated those eyeballs as if they were my children,” he remembered, examining his gloved fingers as if returning to the role. “I made my life as that eyeball maker and I said to myself, if I spent my whole life making eyeballs then they are my children.”

    It’s performances like that that lead to this weekend. On Saturday Hong is being inducted into the Asian Hall of Fame, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    “Actually I don’t know exactly what I’ve done to deserve it but I’ve arrived,” he smiled.

    The organization is using the 2020 season to “increase Asian representation and inter-racial narratives” at a time when a UN report finds hate crimes against Asian Americans has reached “an alarming level.”

    Hong is no stranger to racism. When he was born in Minneapolis in 1929, the Chinese Exclusion Act was still in place. He recalls looking to buy a home shortly after moving in Los Angeles. It was 1954 in a neighborhood not far from where he lives now.

    He and his father were walking up to inquire about the house when suddenly, he says, the next door neighbor emerged. “And shouted, ‘hey, hey, we don’t want Chinese in this neighborhood!” he remembered. He and his father got in their car and left, but, he adds, “if they said that to me now, wow would they get an earful.”

    Lately, he sees prejudice seeping back in, especially during the pandemic, and feels the Asian community needs to address it.

    “I think it’s very important that we become a people that will speak up and also be seen, because you need that relationship with one another in order to understand each other,” Hong explained. “It’s like me to you. How can I understand you or you understand me unless I talk to you, right? Unless we discuss things.”

    Over the course of his career, he doesn’t think the types of roles he’s been offered have changed that much. “When I first started it was almost all 99% cliché roles,” he said. “Inserted only because they wanted an Asian.” Over the past 10 years he thinks the needle has moved slight. Maybe 10% of the jobs he gets now are what he considers “non-gimmick roles.”

    But that’s just his own experience, he stresses. He does see progress. He points to other Asian actors, like Daniel Dae Kim, who he says are breaking the mold.

    “He’s probably the symbol of what can happen,” Hong explained.

    In August, Kim launched a gofundme campaign to get James Hong a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    “This man epitomizes the term ‘working actor,’” Kim wrote of the 91-year-old, “and that's not even taking into account all he's done to help further representation for actors of color.”

    Hong hopes he’ll eventually see his name on that sidewalk, but regardless, he continues working and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

    “I shall never retire,” he scoffed. “I shall die with my boots on and with my SAG card in my pocket.”

    The 16th-Annual Asian Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will stream live on YouTube on November, 21, at 6:00PM PST. Other inductees include Congressmember Judy Chu, Masaharu Morimoto, Noel Lee, Cheryl Burke, Masi Oka, and Wally Yonamine.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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