Suzanne Whang, the former host of popular HGTV show House Hunters and an actress who appeared in dozens of other TV shows, including Las Vegas and Arrested Development, has died after a long struggle with breast cancer. She was 56.
Whang’s partner Jeff Vezain, known for playing in actor Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band, shared the sad news: “A lifetime of love, adventure, humor and bliss now lives in our memories. On Tuesday evening (September 17th) around 7:20pm, Suzanne breathed her last breath here at home, as I knelt beside her and caressed her. For thirteen years she confronted cancer with courage, humor, determination and optimism.”
Whang hosted both House Hunters, from 1999 to 2000 and again in 2008 until 2011, as well as its spinoff, House Hunters International, from 2009 to 2012. She was also an actress, whose mostly TV credits date back to the early ‘90s. She worked on shows from the gritty NYPD Blue to sitcom Two and a Half Men and General Hospital, the long-running, daytime soap opera.
Whang was born in Virginia to Korean parents and studied at Yale University and Brown University. She was studying for her doctorate in cognitive psychology when she decided to become an actress and comedian instead after working as an extra on Spenser: For Hire.
In the comedy world, Whang often used her stand-up routines to talk about her heritage, and she notably embraced Asian stereotypes with her character Sung Hee Park.
She explained why she wanted to perform such a character in her act in a 2003 interview with UCLA.
“What happens is I make fun of all races: my own race, other races, racism, and ignorance. I'm just making fun of it. It's a satire in the same way that Carroll O'Connor who played Archie Bunker on All in the Family played this bigoted character that was also multi-dimensional and endearing,” Whang said. “People would be horrified by what he said but they’d laugh and they also cared about him. It made people laugh and it made them think.”
After such a diverse career, Whang’s circle of friends included many from the entertainment industry. Vanessa Marcil, her co-star on both Las Vegas and General Hospital, chose Whang to be the godmother to Kassius, the now-teenage son she shares with BH90210 actor Brian Austin Green. In June, Marcil was on the planning committee for a fundraiser to support Whang.
Marcil paid tribute to her close friend on social media in the wake of her death.
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