Mr. Wong (fictional detective)

James Lee Wong, known simply as Mr. Wong, is a fictional Chinese-American detective created by Hugh Wiley (1884–1968). Mr Wong appeared in magazine stories and a series of films.


In his story "No Witnesses", Wiley describes Mr. Wong as six feet tall, educated at Yale University and "with the face of a foreign devil-a Yankee".[1] In the stories he is an agent of the United States Treasury Department and lives in San Francisco.

Short storiesEdit

Twelve stories were published in Colliers Magazine from 1934 to 1938.[2]

  • "Medium Well Done" (March 10, 1934, Collier's)
  • "The Thirty Thousand Dollar Bomb" (July 28, 1934, Collier's)
  • "Ten Bells" (August 4, 1934, Collier's)
  • "Long Chance" (December 15, 1934, Collier's)
  • "A Ray Of Light" (May 25, 1935, Collier's)
  • "Jaybird's Chance" (July 20, 1935, Collier's)
  • "Scorned Woman" (September 14, 1935, Collier's)
  • "Three Words" (November 2, 1935, Collier's)
  • "No Witnesses" (February 15, 1936, Collier's)
  • "Seven Of Spades" (September 5, 1936, Collier's)
  • "The Bell From China" (March 26, 1938, Collier's)
  • "The Feast Of Kali" (June 25, 1938, Collier's)

These were all collected in the volume Murder by the Dozen in 1951.

An additional eight stories were published in Collier's but never collected.

  • "In Chinatown" (June 30, 1934, Collier's)
  • "Too Much Ice" (June 29, 1935, Collier's)
  • "Hangman's Knot" (February 13, 1937, Collier's)
  • "No Smoking" (November 6, 1937, Collier's)
  • "The Eye of Heaven" (January 8, 1938, Collier's)
  • "The Heart of Kwan Yin" (February 17, 1940, Collier's)
  • "Footwork" (Match 2, 1940, Collier's)
  • "The Room of Death" (April 13, 1940, Collier's)


The Mr. Wong character was featured in a series of films for Monogram Pictures. The first five starred Boris Karloff and were directed by William Nigh. All the films co-starred Grant Withers as Wong's friend, Police Captain Street. Karloff also played the Chinese character Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) and General Wu Yen Fang, in West of Shanghai (1937), just prior to the first Mr. Wong movie. There is also a 1935 movie starring Bela Lugosi featuring a title character named Mr. Wong, The Mysterious Mr. Wong.

The sixth Mr. Wong film featured Chinese-American actor Keye Luke in the title role, the first time an American sound film used an Asian actor to play a lead Asian detective. Luke had formerly played one of Charlie Chan's sons in the Chan mysteries and Kato in The Green Hornet 1939 serial. In the reboot of the Mr. Wong series, the young "Jimmy Wong" (Luke) was introduced to Police Captain Street, whom Karloff's character worked with in the previous films. A 1940 article, Keye Luke Sleuths on his Own, in the Hollywood Citizen News, announced that Luke had been signed for four Mr. Wong pictures a year.[3] But due to the departure of Karloff, film exhibitors lost interest in the Mr. Wong series and it was ended.[4]

Film title Starring Directed by Released Notes
Mr. Wong, Detective Boris Karloff William Nigh 1938
The Mystery of Mr. Wong Boris Karloff William Nigh 1939
Mr. Wong in Chinatown Boris Karloff William Nigh 1939
The Fatal Hour Boris Karloff William Nigh 1940 Also known as Mr. Wong at Headquarters
Doomed to Die Boris Karloff William Nigh 1940
Phantom of Chinatown Keye Luke Phil Rosen 1940


From 1939 a comic of the film The Mystery of Mr Wong appeared in four consecutive issues of Popular Comics.

Popular Comics (Dell, 1939–40) Issues 38-41


  1. ^ p.120 Brunsdale, Mitzi Icons of Mystery and Crime Detection: From Sleuths to Superheroes ABC-CLIO, 26/07/2010
  2. ^ "James Lee Wong (Mr. Wong)". Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  3. ^ p. 117 Fuller, Karla Hollywood Goes Oriental: CaucAsian performance in American Film Wayne State University Press, 2010
  4. ^ p.82 Everson, William K. The Detective in Film Citadel Press, 1972

See alsoEdit

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