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James Hong makes history with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

James Hong, the ubiquitous veteran actor who found a champion in “Lost” star Daniel Dae Kim, accepted his fan-funded star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a burst of drums, cymbals and Chinese lion dancers, all omens of joy and good. fortune.

“I’m here! I’m alive!” the energetic 93-year-old said Tuesday as he accepted the 2,723rd star on the Walk of Fame, located between Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and TCL Chinese Theatre. And Hong He just made history as the oldest person to receive a star on the Walk of Fame.

Noting that he didn’t have a speech planned, “because I’m not that kind of person,” Hong said he preferred to enjoy seeing familiar faces and take in the moment as it happened.

His speech came after he joked and improvised snippets on speeches from those who introduced him, including Kim, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” co-star Jamie Lee Curtis and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, the last of whom he conceded an elaborate, handwritten proclamation from the City of Los Angeles.

The lion dancers and musicians stepped on Hong’s words a bit, but that didn’t discourage the actor from rushing to where the dance was taking place and adding some traditional and non-traditional dance steps between the drums and cymbals. Hong then invited friends and hosts to dance with him as well, seeming to fully enjoy the moment of him under the bright Los Angeles sun.

Hong, who is Chinese-American, was born in Minnesota and served in the US Army during the Korean War. He joins other Asian artists like Anna May Wong, Mako, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu on the Walk of Fame.

Over the course of four days in August 2020, Kim raised the not-insignificant sum needed to pay for Hong’s star and then took on the process of submitting an application. On the GoFundMe page, the “Hawaii Five-0” actor wrote that Hong “embodies the term ‘working actor,’ and that doesn’t even take into account everything he’s done to help more representation of actors of color.” “.

(In 1965, Hong co-founded the East West Players, the first theater in the US committed to “increasing the visibility of the Asian-American experience,” according to the group’s website. At one point, Kim said, the 70% of Asian American and Pacific Islander actors had ties to the group, which is now based in Little Tokyo).

Kim noted that AAPI artists make up less than 1% of the names represented among the stars on Hollywood Boulevard and nearby streets.

An actor holds up a paper fan with his own snarling face and growls playfully.

James Hong jokes with a fan, a paper fan, not a human, before being honored Tuesday in Hollywood.

(Mark J Terrill/Associated Press)

“Although that number is too low,” Kim said, “it highlights the fact that we should celebrate each one of us who has been lucky enough to be recognized, and that includes the other three AAPIs. [performers] who will be admitted this year. So let’s quit Ming-Na Wen, Jason Momoa and (founding member of the Black Eyed Peas) apl.de.ap.”

But Kim noted that no one had “blazed a trail” like Hong had. “Thank you, James, for your work, the quality of your work and the strength of your character,” she said.

The actor then made a few jokes about Hong’s habit of sending emails in all caps, saying that it was hard not to feel like Hong was yelling at you even when he said the nicest things. But he urged Hong to listen to her next words as if they were in all caps, and in bold and italics just in case.

“YOU TRULY DESERVE THE HONOR YOU ARE ABOUT TO RECEIVE,” Kim said calmly, “AND IT MAKES US VERY, VERY PROUD.”

“I want to thank DDK for their incredible advocacy on behalf of James Hong,” Curtis said earlier in the ceremony as he took the stage to help introduce Hong.

“He is a passionate artist. He is a hilarious presence on set. … But I also think we share a commitment to ambition, to hustle and flow,” he said of his co-star, adding later that Hong had created a path for others to follow in his footsteps.

Additionally, Curtis said, “It’s about time we were here honoring James Hong with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

The assembled crowd roared their approval.

Hong’s career began in the early 1950s and he has referred to himself as “probably the only man alive to have worked with Groucho Marx”. He also shared the screen with Clark Gable, as a Chinese cop in 1955’s “Soldier of Fortune.” His longevity has translated to credits in 469 television shows, 149 feature films, 32 short films and 22 video games, according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. .

Other notable credits include “Chinatown,” “Blade Runner,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” the “Kung Fu Panda” movies and TV shows, the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, and the upcoming “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai” and “Patsy Lee & the Guardians of the Five Kingdoms”.

Hong’s Walk of Fame star, in the motion picture category, was dedicated at 6931 Hollywood Blvd.

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