Richard Loo

Last updated
Richard Loo
Portrait of Richard Loo (retouched).jpg
Born(1903-10-01)October 1, 1903
DiedNovember 20, 1983(1983-11-20) (aged 80)
Resting place San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles, California
Years active1931–1983
(m. 1929;div. 1960)

Hope Loo
(m. 1964)

Richard Loo (October 1, 1903 – November 20, 1983) was a third-generation Chinese-American [1] film actor who was one of the most familiar Asian character actors in American films of the 1930s and 1940s. He appeared in more than 120 films between 1931 and 1982.


Early life

Chinese by ancestry and Hawaiian by birth, Loo spent his youth in Hawaii, then moved to California as a teenager. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and began a career in business.


The stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent economic depression forced Loo to start over. He became involved with amateur, then professional, theater companies and in 1931 made his first film. Like most Asian actors in non-Asian countries, he played primarily small, stereotypical roles, though he rose quickly to familiarity, if not fame, in a number of films.

His stern features led him to be a favorite movie villain, and the outbreak of World War II gave him greater prominence in roles as vicious Japanese soldiers in such successful pictures as The Purple Heart (1944) and God Is My Co-Pilot (1945). Loo was most often typecast as the Japanese enemy pilot, spy or interrogator during World War II. In the film The Purple Heart he plays a Japanese Imperial Army general who commits suicide because he cannot break down the American prisoners. [2] According to his daughter, Beverly Jane Loo, he didn't mind being typecast as a villain in these movies as he felt very patriotic about playing those parts. [1] He was also considered an "atmosphere" player along with Spencer Chan, Willie Fung and Frank Chew. [3]

In 1944 he appeared as a Chinese army lieutenant opposite Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom . He had a rare heroic role as a war-weary Japanese-American soldier in Samuel Fuller's Korean War classic The Steel Helmet (1951), but he spent much of the latter part of his career performing stock roles in films and minor television roles.

In 1974 he appeared as the Thai billionaire tycoon Hai Fat in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun , opposite Roger Moore and Christopher Lee.

Loo was also a teacher of Shaolin monks in three episodes of the 1972–1975 hit TV series Kung Fu and made a further three appearances as a different character. His last acting appearance was in The Incredible Hulk TV series in 1981, but he continued to act in Toyota commercials into 1982. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on November 20, 1983.

Personal life

Loo's first wife, Bessie Sue, was a well-known Hollywood agent. They had twin daughters Angela Marie Loo [4] and Beverly Jane Loo. [5] Beverly Loo was prominent in publishing, while Angela Loo Levy was a Hollywood agent and accomplished ski patroller. Richard Loo remained with his second wife, Hope, until his death in 1983 at the age of 80. [6] He had a stepdaughter, Christel Hope Mintz.



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  1. 1 2 "Obituary: RICHARD LOO, ACTOR 5 DECADES". The New York Times . November 22, 1983. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  2. Milberg, Doris. (2010). World War II on the big screen : 450+ films, 1938-2008. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN   978-0-7864-5574-4. OCLC   607553739.
  3. Slide, Anthony. (2012). Hollywood unknowns : a history of extras, bit players, and stand-ins. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN   978-1-61703-475-6. OCLC   777251346.
  4. "Angela Marie Loo, Born 06/28/1931 in California -". Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  5. "Beverly Jane Loo was born on June 28, 1931 in Los Angeles County, California. Her father's last name is Loo, and her mother's maiden name is Sue. If Beverly is still alive, she's now eighty-six years old. Her potential siblings include Angela (born 1931)". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  6. Devine, Elizabeth (November 1984). Annual Obituary 1983. St. James. p. 552. ISBN   978-0-912289-07-6 . Retrieved July 2, 2011.