American actor, producer and director James Hong was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 22, 1929. Of Chinese descent, he has been seen in over 500 television shows and films in so many different roles and in many other types of productions in American media since the 1950’s. He is best known as the immortal ghost sorcerer Lo Pan in John Carpenter’s cult classic Big Trouble in Little China (1986), as the eye manufacturer Chew in Blade Runner, as Evelyn Mulwray’s loyal and vigilant butler in Chinatown and The Two Jakes, and as the low-rent private eye in Black Widow. He would then appear in the 1989 film The Vineyard. James Hong is also a former President of the Association of Asian/Pacific American Artists (AAPAA).
James Hong was a student at the University of Minnesota where he studied civil engineering, but at some point in time he became interested in acting. He did graduate from the University of Southern California and he worked as a road engineer with the County of Los Angeles for a 7 and a half years, but he used his sick leave and vacation time making movies. He finally quit engineering and became a full time actor, training with Jeff Corey.
James also served in the U.S. Army at Fort McClellan and Camp Rucker with the Special Services and of course, during the Korean war he would entertain the soldiers. He was so popular that he was asked to stay at Camp Rucker and take charge of the live entertainment for the soldiers.
Hong is one of the founders of the East-West Players, the oldest Asian American theater in Los Angeles. He served as president and charter member of the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists.
James Hong is one of the most prolific and well-recognized Asian-American character actors of movies and television. James is a wonderful supporter of the Asian community and of the martial arts and has often worked with young martial artists who want to break into the entertainment industry. He also can be seen as a very popular figure at Comic-Cons and martial arts events.
James Hong lives in Los Angeles where he continues working as will as planning, producing and directing his own films.