Who Is Anna May Wong? First Asian American To Feature On US Currency

Actor Anna May Wong is set to become the first Asian American to appear on US currency, almost a century after she broke into Hollywood during the silent film era. The US mint will begin producing coins featuring the groundbreaking actor from Monday, according to the news website Independent.

Anna May Wong’s image, with her iconic blunt bangs and pencil-thin eyebrows, will feature on the back of new quarters along with her name. While the other side of the coin will feature George Washington.

Considered the first Chinese-American film star, Wong is one among the five women chosen to appear on the quarter as part of the the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of the United States.

Born in 1905 as Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles, she was given the English name Anna May Wong by her parents here. The actor achieved widespread recognition during her career that spanned over four decades and 60 films. 

Her first breakthrough as a lead actor in films came in 1922 in “The Toll of the Sea” at the age of 14. Since then, Wong has done several films and acted in her own television show called The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, which again was a first for an Asian American actor. 

Even after establishing herself as an actor of credence, Wong struggled in Hollywood to break from stereotypical roles. Throughout her life, she advocated for greater representation of Asian American artists in Hollywood and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, just prior to her death of a heart attack at the age of 56.

Wong was not confined to Hollywood but also acted in England, Germany, and France as well as on stages in New York and London.