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Barbara Jean Wong (March 3, 1924 – November 13, 1999) was an American actress and primarily a radio actress.

Barbara Jean Wong
Barbara Jean Wong, 1942 (cropped).jpg
Barbara Jean Wong in 1942.
Born(1924-03-03)March 3, 1924
DiedNovember 13, 1999(1999-11-13) (aged 75)
Other namesBarbara Jean Lee
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
Columbia University
Years active1937–1965
Spouse(s)Robert Wah Lee (? - 1988, his death)


Early life and careerEdit

Wong was a fourth-generation Chinese-American born in Los Angeles, California, to produce market owners Thomas and Maye Wong. She attended the Fanchon and Marco School of the Theater.[1]

She began her performance career at the age of five,[2] as she could read and had a clear voice, and was soon dubbed the Chinese-American Shirley Temple because of her long black hair curled into ringlets and her charming persona.

As a youngster, Wong was also a dancer, performing at events such as a fashion show for charity in 1932[3] and a Hollywood Women's Club costume party in 1935.[4]

Wong appeared in films as early as 1934, when she had "a featured bit" in The Painted Veil.[5] In 1937, as a voice actress, she began performing in programs for CBS. She played Judy Barton, one of the twins in the children's Christmas old time radio show The Cinnamon Bear.[6] She was heard on several episodes of the Lux Radio Theatre, Hallmark Playhouse, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Cavalcade of America, Three Thirds of a Nation,[7] and many other shows.

Her biggest radio role was on the comedy show Amos 'n' Andy, in which she played Amos' daughter Arbadella.[8] In October 1938, she began portraying the detective's oldest daughter in a new Charlie Chan radio series.[9] She also played P.Y., a Chinese character, in I Love a Mystery on radio.[10]

She attended the University of Southern California, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in speech and drama,[11] and Columbia University, where she gained a master of arts degree.[12] After college, Jean (she used her middle name) began working in the movies and worked in 20 films, including The Good Earth, The Man from Button Willow, and Charlie Chan in Honolulu,[13] in which she played the part of Charlie Chan's Number Three daughter. Wong also played a key supporting role in The Trap in 1946 which was the last Charlie Chan movie that featured Sidney Toler.[14] Her last role was uncredited, a nurse[15] in the motion picture Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. Her featured-part movie career lasted from 1938 to 1955. In most of her movies, she was a backdrop, serving only as part of the scenery.[citation needed]

Later yearsEdit

After Wong married, she retired from acting and earned her teaching credentials from Cal State Los Angeles. For 23 years, she taught elementary school before retiring in 1992.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Wong was married to Robert Wah Lee, who died in 1988. They had four children.[17]


Wong died of respiratory illness on November 13, 1999, in Tarzana, California, aged 75.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1938 Charlie Chan in Honolulu Chan Daughter Uncredited
1943 China Nan Ti
1943 Behind the Rising Sun Chinese Girl Given Opium Uncredited
1944 Babes on Swing Street Chinese Girl Uncredited
1945 God Is My Co-Pilot Chinese Nurse Uncredited
1945 The Red Dragon Iris Ling
1946 The Trap San Toy
1946 That Brennan Girl Nightclub Singer Uncredited
1947 Calcutta Mrs. Smith's Manicurist Uncredited
1947 The Chinese Ring Princess Mei Ling
1948 The Golden Eye Minor Role (scenes deleted)
1949 Chinatown at Midnight Betty Chang
1951 China Corsair Croupier Uncredited
1955 Soldier of Fortune Haka Girl Uncredited
1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Nurse Uncredited
1965 The Man from Button Willow Stormy Voice, animated film


  1. ^ "Radio Recording Device Installed". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. March 11, 1934. p. 44. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  2. ^ a b Lentz, Harris M. III (2000). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 1999: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 238. ISBN 9780786452040. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Sorority Women Plan Charity Bridge Party". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. November 13, 1932. p. 30. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  4. ^ "Hollywood Club To Give Chinese Costume Party". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. March 11, 1935. p. 29. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  5. ^ "New Routines in Dance Offered". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. September 10, 1934. p. 13. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  7. ^ American Women
  8. ^ McLeod, Elizabeth (2013). The Original Amos ’n’ Andy: Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll and the 1928–1943 Radio Serial. McFarland. p. 195. ISBN 9781476609713. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Charlie Chan In New Series". The Honolulu Advertiser. Hawaii, Honolulu. October 2, 1938. p. 28. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  10. ^ "(photo caption)". The Anniston Star. Alabama, Anniston. June 21, 1942. p. 2. Retrieved February 1, 2018 – via  
  11. ^ "'Charlie Chan' Has Reunion At Studio". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawaii, Honolulu. September 11, 1946. p. 10. Retrieved February 3, 2018 – via  
  12. ^ "Chinese Actress Engaged to Wed UCLA Student". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. July 3, 1950. p. 14. Retrieved February 3, 2018 – via  
  13. ^ The Who's Who of Charlie Chan's Family Archived October 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Complete Cast List - 'W'
  15. ^ Barbara Jean Wong Filmography (NY Times)
  16. ^ "Barbara Jean Wong; Movie Actress, Teacher". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. November 22, 1999. p. 20. Retrieved February 3, 2018 – via  
  17. ^ "Lee, Barbara Jean (Wong)". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. November 21, 1999. p. 43. Retrieved February 3, 2018 – via  

External linksEdit