Philip Ahn

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Philip Ahn Trivia

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  • Trivia

    • Philip provided the voice for Chang, the wisest of seagulls, in Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973).

    • Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles declared November 14 "Philp Ahn and Korean Heritage Day" in 1984, the day Philip's star was placed on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

    • Studied electrical engineering at Polytechnic High School.

    • He helped bring the Korean Friendship Bell to San Pedro, California.

    • His youngest brother, Ralph, is a film and television actor, and appeared with him in Confessions Of An Opium Eater (1962).

    • He joined the Army to downplay the image of him as an evil Japanese soldier from films he had played the part in, after receiving many death threats from moviegoers, during World War II.

    • He worked to make Los Angeles a sister city of Pusan, Korea.

    • He served as honorary mayor of Panorama City, California, for twenty years.

    • He had a younger sister, Soorah.

    • He joined the Army in World War II, but was forced out because of a bad ankle.

    • He was offered a screen test and a role in "The Thief Of Bagdad" by Douglas Fairbanks, but his mother wouldn't allow him to participate.

    • He was an elevator operator before starting his acting career.

    • He spent most of his later life trying to get the Korean government to bury his parents together, and succeeded in getting a park and memorial for his father and mother built, to remind people of the sacrifices they made in their struggle against the Chinese occupation of the 1930s.

    • He did a USO tour of Vietnam for most of 1968, visiting many troop bases. The announcer introduced him as "the man you love to hate," and he entertained the audiences with his own story as well as impersonations/acting-out of roles.

    • Son of a Korean diplomat who was also a leader in the dissident movement against the Chinese occupation of Korea during the 1930s.

    • Believed to be the first person of Korean heritage born in United States. His parents were the first Korean married couple allowed citizenship and his mother was the second Korean woman given citizenship, in 1902.

    • His younger brother, Philson Ahn, had an acting career as well. He is best known for playing Prince Talien in the Buck Rogers serial (1939) that starred Buster Crabbe.

    • A life-long Presbyterian, took the role of Master Kan on "Kung Fu" because he felt the Buddhist sayings on the show did not go against his own religious beliefs.

    • He was a successful restaurateur.

    • Mistakenly listed in the credits of the 1943 film, "Five Graves To Cairo" due to confusion of his name with another actor, Philip Ahlm.

    • He has a star on Hollywood Walk Of Fame, located at 6211 Hollywood Boulevard near Argyle Avenue. It was dedicated on Novemeber 18, 1984, the ceremony making special citation of his work in "China Sky." (1945)

  • Quotes

    • (about his playing Japanese villains in WWII films)
      Philip Ahn: True, I hated the Japanese, but I told myself that if I was going to play the enemy, I was going to play him as viciously as I could. In 'Back To Bataan' I slapped little children and went so far as to hang a teacher from an American flagpole. I took pride in being the most evil man alive.

    • (about people believing he really lived like Master Kan from "Kung Fu")
      Philip Ahn: I was raised a Presbyterian and I'll always be a Presbyterian. I'm an actor, who is paid to read the lines as they have been written. Have I ever questioned their authenticity? I prefer to think the philosophies Kan expresses are genuine, that they are taken from the Tao religion, which teaches everyone to do good and which preaches non-violence until you are backed up a tree and must defend yourself. That is where kung fu becomes justified in our stories. Hence a TV series.