James Hong isn’t just an actor. He’s basically the most epic version of the “Hey, it’s that guy!” to ever exist. His career spans over 70 years, with parts in nearly 700 different productions.
That’s 469 TV shows, 149 feature films, 32 short films, and 22 video games.
A few highlights: He was the eyeball maker in Blade Runner, Chi-Fu in Mulan, and Evelyn’s Butler Khan in Chinatown. He’s been on Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, The X-Files, and West Wing.
He was on Hawaii Five-O in the 1970s and 2018.
And yet, the 91-year-old actor doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Actor Daniel Dae Kim and friends are planning to change that. Kim started a GoFundMe page to raise cash to pay for a star to honor the man who inspired generations of Asian American Hollywood hopefuls.
“This man epitomizes the term ‘working actor,’” Kim writes on the GoFundMe page, “and that's not even taking into account all he's done to help further representation for actors of color. Not only was he one of the few who worked steadily when there were even fewer roles than there are now, but he also served the Asian American community by co-creating the legendary East West Players theater company.”
The page raised over $55,000 in three days, and #StarForJamesHong has been trending on Twitter, with celebs like Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, Randall Park, George Takei, John Cho, and Ming Na giving shout-outs to Hong and the fundraiser.
Guys, we did it! Stage 1 is complete. Over 1700 people came together in 3 days to fully fund our campaign to get a #StarForJamesHong. We’ve closed off further donations & now the money goes into an account until we apply for the nomination in the spring.— Daniel Dae Kim (@danieldaekim) August 9, 2020
The next step will be submitting an application to the Walk of Fame selection committee, which accepts 30 recipients a year out of a pool of around 200. That competition is kinda stiff, but Hong seems like a shoo-in.
"It's time James Hong was honored in the way he deserves, and it's time to show him how much he -- and all the actors of color of earlier generations -- have done to pave the way for us today," says Kim.
As for his connection to Minnesota? Hong was born in Minneapolis in 1929 to Chinese immigrants. He grew up on Third Avenue South, where his father ran a grocery store.
"It's all gone now, of course,” he explained to City Pages in 2014 when he was in town for Comic Con. “All those little stores when I was born, the department stores. [My childhood home] was on the second story of my father's Chinese grocery store on Third Avenue and Seventh. We were a big family -- seven children -- and I was right in the middle."
Hong grew up in the Twin Cities, graduating from Minneapolis Central High School and then heading to California for college and eventually breaking into show business.