All About James Hong, 94-Year-Old Everything Everywhere Star Who Got Standing Ovation at SAG Awards


Kelsey McNeal/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty James Hong

James Hong is a living Hollywood legend.

On Sunday, Michelle Yeoh dedicated the Everything Everywhere All at Once team's SAG Awards 2023 win for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture to costar Hong, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday.

During a rousing speech following the cast's big win, Hong told the audience of the time when he began his screen career almost 70 years ago, "Back in those days, I have to tell you that the leading role was played by these guys with eyes taped up like this and they talk like this, because the producer said the Asians were not good enough and they are not box office."

"But look at us now, huh?" he added, as the crowd cheered.

Read on to learn more about the prolific actor, who boasts more than 600 credits to his name.

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James Hong
James Hong

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty James Hong in a scene from The Carey Treatment (1972)

RELATED: Daniel Dae Kim Starts GoFundMe to Nominate James Hong for Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Hong was born on Feb. 22, 1929, in Minneapolis to Frank W. Hong and Lee Shui Fa, who immigrated from the United States from China. According to an IMDb biography, Hong initially studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, but eventually quit his job as a Los Angeles city engineer to pursue acting full time.

His credits include close to 500 TV roles, more than 150 feature films, 30-plus short films and 20-plus video games. He has appeared in SeinfeldThe Big Bang TheoryChinatown and Big Trouble in Little China. He has also starred in several animated films, notably voicing Mr. Ping in the Kung Fu Panda series and villain Chi-Fu in Disney's Mulan.

According to his IMDb biography, Hong is one of the founders of the East-West Players, the oldest Asian American theater in Los Angeles. He has also served as president and a charter member of the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists, per IMDb.

The actor has been married twice: first to Pearl Huang, whom he divorced in 1973 after nearly six years of marriage, and then to current wife Susan Hong, with whom he tied the knot in 1977. He and Susan, 70, share daughter April Hong, 44, who is an actress.

Despite racking up hundreds of acting credits since beginning his Hollywood career in the early 1950s, Hong had yet to secure a star on the notable Hollywood Walk of Fame as of 2020. (He was later made the oldest person to accept the honor, during his ceremony in May 2022.)

RELATED VIDEO: James Hong Comments on Lack of Asian Actors During SAG 2023 Win: "Look at Us Now!"

Back in August 2020, Daniel Dae Kim started a fundraising campaign to get Hong a star, calling him "the most prolific actor in Hollywood history."

"This man epitomizes the term 'working actor,' and that's not even taking into account all he's done to help further representation for actors of color," Kim, 54, wrote in the description on his GoFundMe, which ended up raising more than $55,000.

"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 with fellow pioneers like Mako and Nobu McCarthy, just to name a few," the Lost alum continued.

"Let's show this man the respect and love his career has merited by getting him a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame!" Kim added. "We all know what an important part of Hollywood lore the Walk of Fame has been over the years. Tourists from around the world flock to these star-studded blocks stretching across Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. If you're reading this you probably agree that James deserves to be among them."

"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," the former Hawaii Five-0 star concluded.

James Hong (center) at the 2023 SAG Awards
James Hong (center) at the 2023 SAG Awards

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images James Hong (center) at the 2023 SAG Awards

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Michelle YeohKe Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis all won individual acting trophies at the SAG Awards on Sunday, but Yeoh, 60, made sure to acknowledge Hong on stage as the actors accepted their collective honor for the biggest award of the night.

RELATED VIDEO: Stars Celebrate Their SAG Wins

After reflecting on getting his SAG card 70 years ago, Hong went on to joke about Curtis's name — "We are not all Chinese but Jamie Lee, Lee is a good Chinese name" — before acknowledging others who played a role in the Everything Everywhere All At Once's success, including the Daniels directors (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and a "bald guy" producer.

"SAG is a wonderful organization," Hong added.

The 2023 SAG Awards ceremony aired live on Netflix's YouTube Channel Sunday night from the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles.