Extremely prolific American actor of Hong Kong extraction, Hong has been often cast as heavies but in every kind of role and every type of film and TV series imaginable for over 40 years. Born in the Chinatown section of Minneapolis, Hong was sent to his family's native Hong Kong for his earliest education, but returned to the US at age 10 and later studied engineering at USC. An interest in acting led to study with famed teacher Jeff Corey, and in the early 1950s Hong began appearing on such celebrated TV anthologies as "CBS Playhouse" and "Playhouse 90." His earliest feature appearances include Henry King's sudsy interracial romance, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" (1955). From then on, whenever a film or TV show required a large number of Asian or Pacific Islander small-part players (e.g. "Flower Drum Song" 1961, "The Sand Pebbles" 1966, "The Hawaiians" 1970, TV's "Hawaii Five-O"), one could safely bet the rent that Hong would be among them.
Slender and long-faced, of modest height and most typically clean-shaven, Hong has conveyed an ascetic, perennially middle-aged image which led to his being cast as vicious ganglords, quiet servants and other stereotyped roles including a Japanese general in "Airplane!" (1980), Charlie Chan's "number one" son on the syndicated TV series, "The New Adventures of Charlie Chan" (1957-58), and Wang the bar cook on the CBS sleuth show "Switch" (1975-78). Hong, though, has always brought not only a relaxed conviction to such roles but also a dignity and presence that frequently makes them memorable, as with his role as Faye Dunaway's butler in "Chinatown" (1974) and the sequel, "The Two Jakes" (1990), or one of his best-remembered parts, that of Chew ("I only make the eyes!") in the sci-fi epic "Blade Runner" (1982). As Asians became increasingly visible in American culture in the 80s and 90s, Hong only seemed to get busier: three different guest roles on both "Tour of Duty" and "MacGyver," among dozens of other TV assignments; six feature films in 1992 alone (a number of them martial arts extravaganzas), and even a shot at directing with "The Vineyard" (1990). High-profile Hollywood films which used him in the 90s were typically of a somewhat cartoonish nature: "Wayne's World 2" (1993), "The Shadow" (1994), "Tank Girl" (1995).
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Returned to the U.S. at age 10 (date approximate)
Earliest Hollywood feature film appearances included minor roles in Henry King's "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" and "Soldier of Fortune"
Played Barry Chan, Charlie's "number one" son on the syndicated detective series "The New Adventures of Charlie Chan"
An original founding member of East West Players, one of the first Asian American theatre organizations
TV-movie debut, "The Forgotten Man" (ABC)
TV miniseries debut, "Vanished" (NBC)
Made recurring appearances on ABC television series "Kung Fu"
Played Faye Dunaway's butler in "Chinatown"
Played recurring role of Wang the bar cook on the CBS detective series "Switch"
Played Hannibal Chew, the genetic designer in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner"
Appeared in the martial arts films "Missing in Action" and "Ninja III - The Domination"
Played the immortal ghost sorcerer Lo Pan in John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China"
Recreated role of Khan the butler from "Chinatown" (1974) for the sequel "The Two Jakes"
First feature producing credit, as an associate producer of "Caged Fury"
Feature writing and directorial debut, "The Vineyard"; also played a leading role
Played the maître d' on the famous "The Chinese Restaurant" episode of "Seinfeld" (NBC)
Appeared in the six-part interview documentary "Naked Hollywood"
Played Cassandra's father, martial arts expert Mr. Wong in "Wayne's World 2"
Provided voice for character of Chi Fui in Disney animated feature "Mulan"
Voiced Daolon Wong, an evil wizard on the Kids' WB animated series "Jackie Chan Adventures"
Provided voice for Professor Chang on the Cartoon Network's "Teen Titans"
Voiced Mandarin on the ABC family series "Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!"
Appeared in the sci-fi feature "The Day the Earth Stood Still"
Voiced Mr. Ping in animated feature "Kung Fu Panda"
Reprised voiceover role in the sequel "Kung Fu Panda 2"
Cast in action thriller "Safe," Jason Statham