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After seven decades in show business, Minneapolis-born actor James Hong finally was presented a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame Tuesday. 

Actor Daniel Dae Kim, who started a crowdfunding campaign in 2020 to raise the $55,000 needed for the star, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis spoke at Hong's ceremony. Hong didn't prepare any speech for the afternoon, saying he wanted "to feel the moment."

"I'm not that kind of person. I just want to feel the moment, you know what I mean?" he said to an audience Tuesday afternoon. "Just be here and see all of you people that I haven't seen in a long time."

Kim's crowdfunding campaign took only four days to reach its monetary goal. Curtis applauded Kim's efforts at the ceremony, saying "without Daniel, none of this is gonna happen." She also let loose an expletive in expressing how much Hong deserved this honor. 

"It's about f***ing time that we are here honoring James Hong with a star on the Hollywood Walk to Fame!"

Curtis also addressed why Hong chose her to speak at his ceremony, calling each other "survivors." She says they first met on the set of the critically acclaimed movie, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, and made a connection.

"James and I were drawn to each other that first day — we bonded," she said, with Hong sitting beside her. "We held hands, we laid on the floor, and we looked into each other's eyes and found mutual respect and real trust [towards one another]."

Kim pointed out during the ceremony that only 0.69% of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame belong to Asian Americans. 

"Officially... 2,723 stars are on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nineteen of them are for Asian-Americans," Kim said.

Prior to the ceremony, Hong told Variety Magazine that he was overwhelmed by the honor. 

"I want to thank all the fans and friends who donated their money. It boggles my mind to think that there's enough people out there who would do that," he said. "And I don't know who they are, so I'll just have to thank them through [Variety Magazine's] article."

Background

James Hong was born the son of Chinese immigrants in Minneapolis, but was moved to Hong Kong at the age of 5 years old, according to Variety.

He later returned to the United States at the age of 10. Hong graduated from Minneapolis Central High School in 1947. 

When Hong reached his college years, he studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota in the early 1950s, per the University of Minnesota Alumni Association

He later got a degree from the University of Southern California, and then worked in Los Angeles County for about 18 months as a road engineer, taking sick leave and PTO to work in movies, eventually quitting to become a full time actor.

Hong also served time for the United States Army in the Korean War. He reflected on his experience with China Insight, saying he was caught between a rock and hard place at times.

"I do not know if I would have liked to go to war in Korea but let's admit it that with a G.I. cap and this face charging at the Korean army, the Koreans would try to kill me. But then if we were to retreat and I turned around and ran back, the Americans would try to kill me too because they would think I am an enemy in disguise. I definitely think I would have been shot from one side and the other," he remarked.

Filmography

Hong got his breakthrough when he appeared on Groucho Marx's game show You Bet Your Life in 1950. He did impersonations of Groucho, James Cagney and others, which led to a "flood of fan mail" and helped land Hong an agent, according to IMDb.

The actor started his career in 1952, seven decades ago. He discussed his early career with Deadline, saying there weren't any "roles as a principle person in American society" as a Chinese American actor. 

"I am a Chinese American actor and there was nothing for me, and how can you take that slap in the face back and forth each year?” he told the publication in 2018. “Being from Minnesota, I’m a fighter, you know. I was an artist and wanted something more because it’s a lifetime of work. You just don’t want to get a paycheck to become a cliché person."

"In the beginning, I played all those roles, but they were all houseboys, laundry men, railroad workers and villains, always the bad guy or always the persecuted Chinaman, always being saved by a white person. There were no roles as a principle person in American society.”

As of 2022, Hong has appeared in over 650 works of film and plays, and is recognized as one of the most "prolific and well-recognized Asian-American character actors of movies and television," according to IMDb.

Hong appeared in four films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Chinatown (1974) and Bound for Glory (1976). 

Other notable movies and shows Hong has played a role in include: Turning Red (2022), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), the Kung Fu Panda films, short films and animated series (2008-present), Mulan (1998), Balls of Fury (2007), Wayne's World 2 (1993) and many more.

Hong is one of the founders of the East-West Players, known as the oldest Asian American theater in Los Angeles. He also served as the president and charter member of the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists.

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