Nancy Kwan was catapulted from her native Hong Kong at 18 to become an
international star in such famed American Films as The World of Suzie Wong and
Flower Drum Song.
Kwan, the daughter of a prominent architect, was born in Hong Kong and educated
in England, where she also studied dancing at the Royal Ballet School. By
chance, while on vacation from school in Hong Kong, she was spotted by famed
American producer Ray Stark, who was searching for an Oriental beauty to star
in the film version of The World of Suzie Wong. After a number of screen tests
in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and London, Kwan finally got the part, starring
opposite William Holden. For this role, she was nominated for Best Actress and
International Star of Tomorrow by the Hollywood Foreign Press.
Kwan’s second starring role, which allowed her to display her dancing talents,
was in Flower Drum Song, based on the acclaimed Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway
Musical. Following completion of The Main Attraction, Kwan married. After her son, Bernie,
was born, Kwan divided her time between Europe and the United States, starring
in such films as The Wild Affair and Honeymoon Hotel, opposite Robert Goulet
and Robert Morse; Tamahine; Fate is the Hunter, opposite Glenn Ford; Lt.
Robinson Crusoe USA, with Dick Van Dyke; The Wrecking Crew, opposite Dean
Martin; Arrivederci Baby, opposite Tony Curtis; Nobody’s Perfect, with Doug
McClure; and The McMasters, with David Carradine, Brock Peters, and Jack Palance.
During the 1970s, Kwan moved back to Hong Kong, along with her son. There, she
entered film production, as Managing Director of Nancy Kwan Films. Her company
specialized in television commercials for the Southeast Asia market. In addition
to running the business, which included a recording studio and motion picture
equipment rental division, Kwan took time out to direct a number of commercials.
Also, during those years, Kwan continued her acting career, starring in numerous
films made in Southeast Asia, among them, Wonder Woman, The Pacific Connection,
Fortress in the Sun, Project Kill, and Fear. She also starred in, a film made in Hong Kong, for which Kwan received rave reviews.
During this time, she appeared on television in the pilot for Hawaii 5-0, with
Jack Lord: and the two-part Cenotaph episode of Kung Fu, with David Carradine.
Since returning to the United States in 1980, Kwan has appeared in such series
as Fantasy Island, Trapper John, Knots Landing,
Partners In Crime, and in such
movies as Chicago Story, The Last Ninja,
Blade in Hong Kong, James Clavell’s Noble House,
Miracle Landing for CBS and Babies for NBC.
Her films include Walking the Edge, with Robert Forster; Night Children, with
David Carradine; Cold Dog Soup, with Randy Quaid; Keys to Freedom, with Jane
Seymour and Omar Sharif; Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, with Jason Scott Lee.
Kwan starred in For Life or Death and Mr. P’s Dancing Sushi Bar, a project that
was developed at Sundance.
Stage plays are The Quartered Man at LATC; Love Letters, at the English Theatre
in Vienna, Austria; originated the role of Leila in the award winning Arthur
Leila at the Bayfront Theatre in San Francisco and the East-West Players in Los
Angeles, and as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and reprising the role
of Melissa in Love Letters at the Singapore Repertory Theatre in Singapore.
Dove Books on Tapes-Nancy Kwan Reads When Heaven and Earth Changed Places,
Farewell to My Concubine, Katherine, and
The Red Azalea.
As a writer, Kwan has collaborated on a number of screenplays. Murder Within,
Journey to the West Gate of Heaven, Jade: Investigator. She developed the
concept for T’ai Chi Ch’uan-Touching the Clouds, her instructional videotape on
this ancient Chinese exercise.
Ms. Kwan produced the feature film, The Biker Poet, and played the role of Kwan
Yin in the television pilot The Zee Team. She recently guest starred in the
television series “ER”.
In 2002 Ms. Kwan was appointed Hong Kong’s Film Ambassador.
Ms. Kwan recently appeared in, and narrated My Hong Kong, a Television Special.
The show won two Telly Awards.
In 2005, Ms. Kwan appeared in Murder on the Yellow Brick Road a feature film.
And Love Letters with James Shigeta at the East West Players.
Ms. Kwan recently completed the narration for the Anna May Wong- Frosted Yellow
Willows: Her life, Times and Legend documentary film.
2006, Love Letters with James Shigeta- Herbst Theatre in San Francisco.
2006, Ms Kwan starred in the feature film, Ray of Sunshine.
2007, Hollywood Chinese, Arthur Dong’s documentary selected for the Toronto
International Film Festival.
2007, McKnight’s Memory, an Audio Novel by Paul Kyriazi. Written and directed by
Paul Kyriazi. Produced by Larry Metzger.
2009, To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen’s Journey, a feature documentary film produced
and directed by Brian Jamieson.
East West Visionary Award – April 28, 2003
Excellence in the Performing Arts - Chinese American Museum, 2003
County of Los Angeles - Performing Arts for Asian Americans – October 17, 2004
City of San Francisco – Recognition for her acting career, and political
activism with the Asian American Voters’ Coalition. July 7, 2006
UCLA Asian American Studies Center, for her work in Theater and Cinema – January
Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii – April 2, 2008
The House of Representatives of Hawaii for her many contributions to the Film
OCA National Convention Washington, DC. Asian Pacific American Pioneer Award
August 2, 2008
In 2006 Ms Kwan served on the International jury for the Bangkok International
In 2008, she served as jury on The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
December 2008, Ms Kwan served as Jury Chairperson for The Women’s International
Film and Television Showcase Film Festival in Los Angeles.
June 27 2009, Chinatown 71st Anniversary. Ms. Kwan was honored with a Lifetime
Achievement Award by City of Los Angeles.
December 4th, 2009, Los Angeles. Ms Kwan received TheWIFTS Foundation Lifetime
Tribute Award For Her Outstanding Contribution To The World Of Cinema.