Nancy Kwan

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Born

5/19/1939 , Hong Kong

Birth Name

Kwan Ka Shen

Gender

Female

Biography:

Nancy Kwan was born on May 19, 1939 in Hong Kong. The daughter of a successful Chinese architect and a Scottish/English fashion model, she spent her early years in Hong Kong, but travelled to England at age thirteen to finish her schooling. Rather than pursuing acting, she became dancer in the Royal Ballet in London.

While on holiday in Hong Kong Nancy was discovered by an American producer, who signed her to a contract and sent her to Hollywood for acting lessons. She won the title role in the c romantic drama The World of Suzie Wong, opposite popular leading man William Holden. The successful (and somewhat controversial) film made her an international star.

She followed up the next year with a starring role in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song. The film was unusual not only because it was the first American movie with an all-Asian cast, but also because it portrayed Chinese-Americans in a positive light.

Nancy went on to star in many more films from the sixties onward. Given her Eurasian features, and the limited number of roles for Asian actors, she often played non-Asian or non-traditional characters.

In addition to her work for the big screen, Nancy Kwan has made many television and stage appearances, and recorded several audiobooks. She has managed her own film production company, created her own cosmetics line, and became a spokesperson for the Asian-American Voters Coalition. She remains active in her career today, and most recently, has been involved with tourism promotion for her native Hong Kong.