Leonard Strong (actor)

Leonard Clarence Strong (August 12, 1908 – January 23, 1980) was an American character actor specializing in playing Asian roles.

Leonard Strong
Leonard Strong Twilight Zone 1960.jpg
Strong in Twilight Zone episode, "The Hitch-Hiker" (1960)
Leonard Clarence Strong

(1908-08-12)August 12, 1908
DiedJanuary 23, 1980(1980-01-23) (aged 71)
Years active1942–1968
Irene Richards
(m. 1935)


Strong was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beginning with Little Tokyo, U.S.A in 1942, he played a gamut of roles as Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Thais, etc. in films such as Dragon Seed (1944), Up in Arms (1944), Jack London (1943), Salute to the Marines (1943), Behind the Rising Sun (1943), Night Plane from Chungking (1943), Bombardier (1943), Underground Agent (1942), and Manila Calling (1942). He played the Thai interpreter in both Anna and the King of Siam and its musical remake The King and I. He played Clem in The Lone Ranger (TV series) episode (1/16) "Cannonball McKay" (1949). Strong also appeared in the movie Shane (1953) as homesteader Ernie Wright.

Leonard Strong c. 1953

Strong achieved some pop culture notoriety for his role on television as "The Claw" on Get Smart, where Agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) is unable to understand Strong as he announces his evil nickname of “The Claw”; confused, Smart calls the villain “The Craw”, causing Strong to continuously correct him.

He appeared in a season-five episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1960) "The Cure" written by horror writer Robert Bloch. Set deep in an Amazon jungle, Strong plays Luiz, a loyal native who speaks broken English and saves his employer, an oil explorer, from the attempted murder of his supposedly mentally ill and unfaithful wife. Something gets lost in the translation when his employer wants Strong to take her to a psychiatrist 200 miles down river, and he takes her instead to a native headshrinker. The denouement comes when Strong returns alone to the shock of his employer. He says, "I do what you tell me. I take her to my people. The best headshrinkers in the world". Then, pulling his employer's wife's now shrunken head out of a bag, he says, "Best job in the world."

Another notable television role was his haunting and mostly silent portrayal of the title character in the original Twilight Zone episode, "The Hitch-Hiker", which is often listed as one of the ten best episodes of the series. With his thumb extended, seeking a ride, and stating "I believe you're going...my way," Strong is seen in one of the half-dozen, seconds-long scenes used at the start of every one of the 30 DVDs in the CBS DVD five-season collection, "The Twilight Zone, The Definitive Edition." He died in Glendale, California.

Selected FilmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1942 Little Tokyo, U.S.A. Fujiama
1942 Manila Calling Japanese Officer Uncredited
1942 Underground Agent Count Akiri
1943 Bombardier Japanese Officer
1943 Night Plane from Chungking Lieutenant Karuma Uncredited
1943 Behind the Rising Sun Tama's Father
1943 Salute to the Marines Karitu Uncredited
1943 Jack London Captain Tanaka
1944 Up in Arms Japanese Interrogator in Cave Uncredited
1944 Dragon Seed Japanese Official Uncredited
1944 The Keys of the Kingdom Mr. Chia
1945 Blood on the Sun Hijikata
1945 Back to Bataan Gen. Homma
1945 First Yank Into Tokyo Major Nogira
1946 Anna and the King of Siam Interpreter Uncredited
1946 Dangerous Millions Bandit Chieftain
1947 Backlash The Stranger / Willis - the Caretaker
1948 Jewels of Brandenburg Marcel Grandet
1948 Sword of the Avenger Ming Tang
1949 We Were Strangers Bombmaker Uncredited
1949 Malaya Half-witted Malay Uncredited
1950 Backfire Lee Quong Uncredited
1950 Cargo to Capetown Singh
1952 Carbine Williams Robak Uncredited
1952 The Atomic City Donald Clark
1953 Destination Gobi Wali-Akhun
1953 Shane Ernie Wright
1953 Scared Stiff Shorty
1954 Hell's Half Acre Ippy
1954 The Naked Jungle Kutina
1954 Prisoner of War Col. Kim Doo Yi
1954 Bengal Brigade Mahindra
1955 Cult of the Cobra Daru
1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Fortune Teller Uncredited
1956 The King and I Interpreter Uncredited
1956 The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu Professor Hugh Yan
1957 This Could Be the Night Mr. Bernbaum Uncredited
1958 Jet Attack Maj. Wan (North Korean)
1959 The Big Fisherman Zebedee, Father of James & John Uncredited
1962 Escape from Zahrain Ambulance Driver


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