A Hollywood Chinese Album

Book-in-Progress by Arthur Dong

A Hollywood Chinese Album will be a lushly illustrated pictorial that explores the power of images and their impact. Originating from Arthur Dong’s documentary Hollywood Chinese, which chronicled the 100-year history of the Chinese in American feature films, the book will spotlight archival material selected from some 1,500 pieces of ephemera the filmmaker collected since childhood and during the ten-year research for his documentary.

“The Cat’s Paw” lobby card, front (l-r):Harold Lloyd and Alyn Warren (1934).

This singular treasure trove of rare artifacts includes posters, lobby cards, stills, press kits, and other memorabilia that reflect social and cultural attitudes on race over the past century, and how those attitudes played out in Hollywood. A Hollywood Chinese Album will layout this material as a visual journey to trace ways the film industry has ingrained a particular cinematic imagination of the Chinese into American culture and consciousness. Although A Hollywood Chinese Album centers on the Chinese, its analysis will be relevant to other ethnic and marginalized groups as well, challenging prejudiced assumptions about minorities in America.

“The Curse of Quon Gwon” with Violet Wong (1916).

As a countermeasure to fabricated portrayals, a key component in A Hollywood Chinese Album will illuminate Chinese American film artists, presenting stories of resistance that will empower readers with alternative narratives that inspire. These stories range from contemporary filmmakers and actors that were interviewed for the documentary, to pioneers like Marion Wong who directed the earliest feature film by an Asian American in 1916.

A Hollywood Chinese Album will be written by Arthur Dong, author of the American Book Award-winning Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs 1936-1970.

Anticipated publication date: 2019. Hardcover. Approximately 350 pages. Over 400 illustrations.

Can’t wait? Limited copies of the Hollywood Chinese exhibition catalogue are still available for purchase here.