WASHINGTON — The U.S. Mint has announced that actress Anna May Wong will be recognized as part of its American Women Quarters series, authorized by Public Law 116-330,
The Anna May Wong Quarter, to be issued in 2022, is the fifth coin in the American Women Quarters Program. Wong (1905-1961) was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. She left a legacy for women in the film industry.
Wong appeared in more than 60 movies throughout her career. In addition to her roles in silent films, television, and stage, she landed a role in one of the first movies made in Technicolor. She achieved international success despite racism and discrimination.
During the silent film era, she acted in “The Toll of the Sea” (1922) and in Douglas Fairbanks’ “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924). Wong was featured in films of the early sound era, such as “Daughter of the Dragon” (1931), “Daughter of Shanghai” (1937), and with Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express (1932).
In 1935, Wong was dealt the most severe disappointment of her career, when MGM refused to consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film version of Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth.” Instead, Luise Rainer was cast to play the role in yellowface.
The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington. The design was originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser as a candidate entry for the 1932 quarter, which honored the bicentennial of Washington’s birth.
The reverse (tails) features a close-up image of Wong with her head resting on her hand, surrounded by the bright lights of a marquee sign.
The coin is designer by Emily Damstra, AIP designer, and sculpted by John P. McGraw, medallic artist.
Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the U.S. Mint will issue up to five new reverse designs each year. The obverse of each coin will maintain a likeness of Washington, but is different from the design used during the previous quarter program.
The quarters may feature contributions from a variety of fields, including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts. The women honored will be from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds. The law requires that no living person be featured in the coin designs.
Also honored in 2022 will be: Maya Angelou, celebrated writer, performer, and social activist; Dr. Sally Ride, physicist, astronaut, educator, and first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; and Nina Otero-Warren, a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools.
“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” said U.S. Mint Acting Director Alison L. Doone. “Generations to come will look at coins bearing these designs and be reminded of what can be accomplished with vision, determination and a desire to improve opportunities for all.”