Victor Sen Yung
|Died||October 31, 1980 65) (aged|
|Resting place||Greenlawn Memorial Park, Colma, California|
|Other names||Sen Yung|
Victor Sen Young
Victor Sen Yung (traditional Chinese : 揚 森 ; simplified Chinese :扬森; pinyin :Yáng Sēn; Jyutping :Joeng4 Sam1; October 18, 1915 – c. October 31, 1980), born Sen Yew Cheung, was an American character actor, best known for playing Jimmy Chan in the Charlie Chan films and Hop Sing in the western series Bonanza . He was born in San Francisco, California to Gum Yung Sen and his first wife, both immigrants from China.
When his mother died during the flu epidemic of 1919, his father placed Victor and his younger sister, Rosemary, in a children's shelter, and returned to his homeland to seek another wife. He returned in 1922 with his new wife, Lovi Shee, once again forming a household with his two children.
During his acting career, Victor was given billing under a variety of names, including Sen Yung, Sen Young, Victor Sen Young, and Victor Young.
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Sen Yung made his first significant acting debut in the 1938 film Charlie Chan in Honolulu, as the Chinese detective's "number two son," Jimmy Chan. In this movie, Sidney Toler replaced the recently deceased Warner Oland as Charlie Chan and Sen Yung replaced Oland's "number one son" Lee, who had been played by Keye Luke. Sen Yung played Jimmy Chan in 10 Charlie Chan films between 1938 and 1942. He played the crucial role of lawyer's clerk Ong Chi Seng alongside Bette Davis in The Letter (1940).
In common with other Chinese-American actors, Sen Yung was cast in Japanese parts during World War II, such as his role as the treacherous Japanese-American Joe Totsuiko in the 1942 Humphrey Bogart film Across the Pacific .
During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. During his military service, he was replaced in the Charlie Chan series by Benson Fong, who played "number three son", Tommy Chan. Yung's military service included work in training films at the First Motion Picture Unit and a role in the Army Air Forces' play and film Winged Victory .
After the war, Sen Yung resumed his Hollywood career. The Charlie Chan series was now in the hands of Monogram Pictures, with Sidney Toler continuing in the leading role. Toler's health was failing by 1946; Monogram was conserving Toler's waning energy and shooting around him wherever possible, even reusing two-year-old footage of Toler to finish Toler's last film. To relieve the burden on Toler, Monogram hired his original screen foil, Sen Yung (now billing himself as Victor Sen Young). He and Mantan Moreland shared much of the footage in Toler's final three films, Dangerous Money, Shadows over Chinatown, and The Trap. Following Toler's death in 1947, Victor Sen Young appeared in five of the remaining six Charlie Chan features. His character "Jimmy" was renamed "Tommy" (author Scott MacGillivray contends that "Jimmy" was so closely associated with Sidney Toler that audiences would miss seeing Toler opposite him, resulting in Monogram making the change).
Sen Yung continued to work in motion pictures and television, usually playing affable or earnest Asian characters.
Sen Yung was cast as the compassionate Chinese restaurant owner "Quong Kee" in Tombstone, Arizona, in the 1957 episode, "Quong Kee", of the syndicated television anthology series Death Valley Days , hosted by Stanley Andrews. In the story, an aging Quong Kee recalls how in 1881 he brought together the Bostonians Art Gresham (Walter Kelley) and his mother (played by Mary Newton) with the saloon musician Ann Bailey (Eugenia Paul), who after a topsy-turvy romance became Mrs. Art Gresham.
Sen Yung is probably best remembered as "Hop Sing," the cook on the long-running television series Bonanza , appearing in 107 episodes between 1959 and 1973.Bonanza series creator David Dortort told the Archive of American Television that the "Hop Sing" character generated massive fandom - "Victor was just absolutely delightful. He loved the part; he loved doing it. In fact, he began to develop fans, to the extent that I wrote him in as the feature part in a number of shows.”
In Bachelor Father (American TV series) (1957-62), Sen Yung had a recurring role as the scheming "Uncle Charlie," a character that Asian rights activist Guy Aoki commends as "a slick, Americanized character. I thought it was great that way back in the ’50s, audiences saw a Chinese American who acted just like anyone else."
In the early 1970s, Sen Yung had a recurring role in seven episodes of the tv series Kung Fu , which starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk, also in the Old West.
Sen Yung was also an accomplished and talented chef. He frequently appeared on cooking programs, and authored The Great Wok Cookbook in 1974.
In 1972, Yung was on Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 710, which was hijacked. The FBI stormed the plane, and in the ensuing gunfire Sen Yung was shot in the lower back. He and another wounded passenger survived, but a third passenger and the two hijackers were killed.
In 1975, he appeared on Garry Moore's To Tell The Truth and related the events of the hijacking. With Yung dressed in a sport coat and flanked by two dissimilar imposters, none of the four panelists was able to choose him as the character actor.
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Sen Yung died in his North Hollywood home in 1980. The actor, who ran a small mail-order Chinese pottery business, was creating clayware and curing the items with an oven, and died of natural gas poisoning from a gas leak. His body was found November 9, but he had reportedly been dead at least ten days, from possibly around October 31.
Some reports suggested that the actor was murdered,but police ultimately ruled the death accidental. The eulogy at Sen Yung's funeral was given by fellow Bonanza actor Pernell Roberts, who also paid the funeral expenses.
The Victor Sen Yung memorial scholarship is awarded each year by the Chinese Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley, where Sen Yung majored in animal husbandry.
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Charlie Chan in Honolulu is a 1939 American film directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, starring Sidney Toler as the fictional Chinese-American detective Charlie Chan. The film is the first appearance of both Toler as Chan and Victor Sen Yung as "number two son" Jimmy.
The Trap is a 1946 crime film directed by Howard Bretherton and starring Sidney Toler and Victor Sen Yung. The main premise is that two members of a show troupe are murdered, and detective Charlie Chan is called in to solve the case. The title credit mentions "Charlie Chan" as appearing in the film, as if he were an actor and not a fictional character portrayed by Toler.
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