racechanging: various Asian characters

Racechanging: Various Asian characters

Featuring actresses in yellowface makeups portraying Chinese, Japanese and other Asian characters. In most cases a white actress is playing a character who is intended to be believably Chinese or Japanese.

The movies

Face Forward (2000): In this book Kevyn Aucoin gave Andie MacDowell a look which channeled Anna May Wong. The makeup included tapes to change the shape of her eyes.

Mr Magoo (1997): Stacey Sampanahoditra (Jennifer Garner) is, I’d guess, a pretty unlikely name for a Tibetan or whatever she was supposed to be: her makeup was pretty unlikely too – they must have used up all the budget on Kelly Lynch. Sandy Cooper was key makeup artist.

The Golden Child (1986): Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) sets out to convince an unlikely hero to rescue the Golden Child. Ken Chase was makeup designer and creator; Steve LaPorte was key makeup artist.

Little Tokyo, U.S.A. (1942): Set in Los Angeles at the time of Pearl harbour, Teru (June Duprez) attempts to seduce the white cop investigating a Japanese American spy ring in this pernicously racist piece of wartime propaganda for internment. It only fails to top the list of ioffensive yellowface movies at yellowworld.org because it’s almost forgotten. I do not have makeup credits for this movie.

Frisco Jenny (1932): The Chinese woman Amah (Helen Jerome Eddy), who helps take care of her baby is Jenny’s only loyal friend. Makeup credits unknown.

East is West (1930): Billy saves Ming Toy (Lupe Velez) from the auction block in China. She is taken to San Francisco, but threatened with deportation she is sold to Charlie Yong, the Chop Suey King. Billy kidnaps her with plans of marriage. Jack Pierce was the makeup artist.

The Show of Shows (1929): The Show of Shows was a lavish revue film, photographed almost entirely in Technicolor. the ‘Chinese Fantasy’ segment, introduced by Rin Tin Tin, featured Myrna Loy dancing.

A Girl in Every Port (1928): This silent movie by Howard Hawks is the story of the sailor Spike, who in his travels around the world finds each time he tries to pick up a girl that she already carries the mark – an anchor within a heart – of a mysterious other sailor. The movie is the all about the relationship between the two sailors; the ‘girls’ in question are disposable and forgotten by the time the sailors get to the next port. Myrna Loy was the uncredited ‘girl in China’.

The Red Lantern (1919): Mahlee and Blanche Sackville (both played by Alla Nazimova) are half-sisters, Blanche the daughter of an Englishman and his wife, Mahlee of the Englishman and his Chinese mistress. Mahlee rejects her people and attempts to find a life for herself among the Europeans. But she finds the colour line impossible to pass and returns to lead her Chinese people in rebellion.

The Forbidden City (1918): San-San (Norma Talmadge), the daughter of a Chinese mandarin is sentenced to death for her secret marriage to an American. Their child, raised in the mandarin's palace, grows up and escapes to seek her father, now a high-ranking official in the Philippines. Years later, San-San’s daughter Toy (also played by Norma Talmadge) tries to escape from her brutal life in the emperor’s palace to seek her American father.