Most actors and actresses understand that they face a competitive industry when they enter the world of motion pictures and television, but actor-producer Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “New Amsterdam”) is changing the rules while also helping a fellow actor gain long-awaited recognition.
Realizing that pioneering actor James Hong, 92, had never received a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Kim was determined to make it happen.
On Aug. 3, 2020, CNN aired a segment featuring Hong as the person with the most TV and movie credits of anyone living or dead — nearly 700 over a career that began in the mid-1950s. Inspired by the CNN piece, Kim launched a GoFundMe campaign two days later to raise the $50,000 fee required by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. The campaign generated $55,307 in just four days.
“It brings me immense joy,” Kim, who is also executive producer of ABC’s drama series “The Good Doctor,” stated as he announced Hong would receive a star on the Walk of Fame, thanking all who donated to the campaign.
Hong’s film credits include “Flower Drum Song,” “Blade Runner,” “Big Trouble in Little China,” “The Two Jakes,” “Mulan,” “R.I.P.D.” and the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise. His early credits include the English-dubbed version of “Godzilla” (1956) and the 1957-58 TV series “The New Adventures of Charlie Chan.” His subsequent TV credits include “Kung Fu,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “All in the Family,” “MacGyver,” “Martial Law,” “The X Files,” “The West Wing,” “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “The Big Bang Theory.” He appeared in the PBS adaptation of Genny Lim’s play “Paper Angels” and helped to establish East West Players, the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific American theater company.
Earlier this week, the Hollywood Chamber announced that Hong has been selected among the newest honorees for the coveted sidewalk recognition, Class of 2022. Three others of Asian descent were also chosen, Jason Momoa (“See,” “Aquaman,” “Game of Thrones”), Ming-Na Wen (“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” “The Mandalorian,” “Yasuke”), and the multi-racial musical group Black Eyed Peas, featuring a Filipino member known as Apl.de.ap.
The announcement signals a banner year for Asian American performers and the Walk of Fame. In November 1960, the City of Los Angeles dedicated the Walk of Fame with Anna May Wong, Sessue Hayakawa, and Sabu among the honorees in that inaugural year.
However, in the 61 years since the storied Walk of Fame was launched, just 12 more Asian Americans have received stars among the 2,697 laid into the sidewalk to date. They are Philip Ahn (1984), George Takei (1986), Keye Luke (1990), Bruce Lee (1993), Mako (1994), Pat Morita (1994), Jackie Chan (2002), Keanu Reeves (2005), Ben Kingsley (2010), Toshiro Mifune (2016), and Lucy Liu (2019). Godzilla, a fictional character, was a 2004 inductee.
Liu (“Elementary,” “Why Women Kill”) was just the second Asian American actress honored with a star on the Walk of Fame in 2019. In her acceptance speech, she paid tribute to Wong, a legendary silent film actress.
“Sometimes people talk about my mainstream successes as groundbreaking for an Asian, but Asians have been making movies for a long time,” she said. “They just weren’t making them here because we weren’t yet invited to the table. I was lucky that trailblazers, like Anna May Wong and Bruce Lee, came before me. if my body of work somehow helped bridge the gap between stereotypical roles, first given to Anna May, and mainstream success today, I am thrilled to have been part of that process.”