All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

Not Your China Doll – The Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong – April 4

Posted: April 9th, 2024 | No Comments »

Katie Gee Salisbury’s bio of Anna May Wong, Not Your China Doll (Faber) has been out in the US a while and is now available in the UK…

Set against the glittering backdrop of Los Angeles in the gin-soaked Jazz Age and the rise of Hollywood, this debut book celebrates Anna May Wong, the first Asian American movie star, to bring an unsung heroine to light and reclaim her place in cinema history.

In her time, Anna May was a legendary beauty, witty conversationalist, and fashion icon. Plucked from her family’s laundry business in Los Angeles, she rose to stardom in Douglas Fairbanks’s blockbuster The Thief of Bagdad. Fans and the press clamored to see more of this unlikely actress, but when Hollywood repeatedly cast her in stereotypical roles, she headed abroad in protest.

Anna May starred in acclaimed films in Berlin, Paris, and London; she dazzled royalty and heads of state across several nations, leaving trails of suitors in her wake. She returned to challenge Hollywood at its own game by speaking out about the industry’s blatant racism. She used her new stature to move away from her typecasting as the China doll or dragon lady, and worked to reshape Asian American representation in film.

Along with unprecedented access to Anna May’s personal effects courtesy of the Wong family, in Not Your China Doll, Katie Gee Salisbury also draws on her own experiences as an Asian American woman to showcase the vibrant, radical life of a groundbreaking artist.

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