The Weirdest Portrayals of Asians In Movie History

Categories: Film

Hollywood used to have a habit of putting slanty-eye makeup on non-Asian stars and passing them off as from "the Orient."

Here are some of the more egregious examples:

Mickey Rooney as the buck-toothed Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961. "Miss Go-rightry!" Oy.

Jennifer Jones as a Eurasian doctor in Hong Kong in Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, 1955. The movie is so cloying, it's like one big crumbling fortune cookie.

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Katharine Hepburn as a very mannered Chinese woman named Jade in 1944's Dragon Seed, based on the Pearl S. Buck novel. Guess Who's Coming to Chinese Dinner?

Luise Rainer and Paul Muni as a Chinese farming couple in 1937's The Good Earth, also based on a Buck book. Shoot me, but I actually liked their performances, despite the obvious problems. Rainer copped the Oscar.

Rex Harrison, a Brit with a Thai noodle, in Anna and the King of Siam

Russian-born Yul Brynner in the musical version, The King and I. He won the Oscar and made hairlessness (and drop earrings) hot.

Latina spitfire Rita Moreno in the same Thailand-via-Hollywood epic. East Side Story?

John Gielgud as Chang, who came from the "lamasery" in the musical Lost Horizon, 1972. He should have stayed there. And Charles Boyer should have, too; he played the High Lama!

Robert Donat (left) gave his last screen performance, sadly, as the mandarin in Inn of the Sixth Happiness, 1958. He was better remembered for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Jerry Lewis in 1981's Hardly Working. I love Jerry, but this thing hardly worked. And the teeth outdid Mickey Looney's, I mean, Rooney's!

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Peter Sellers in 1980's The Fiendish Plot of Fu Man Chu. The plot was fiendish, all right. I was hungry again an hour later.

John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. Filmed near a nuclear testing site. Almost everyone in the movie died of cancer years later.

Charlie Chan. And don't forget his "number-one son."

African-American Juanita Hall starred in Flower Drum Song and played Bloody Mary in South Pacific. She was the all-purpose ethnic for Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.

Before The Odd Couple, Tony Randall was the odd septet in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Oscar winner for Best Makeup.

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