KEYE LUKE

Born June 18, 1904 (Guangzhou, formerly Canton, China)
Died January 12, 1991 (Whittier, California)

Keye Luke played Lee Chan, #1 son. Luke came to the U.S. with his family at an early age, and was raised in Seattle, Washington. After graduation from high school, Luke then went to the University of Southern California. A talented artist, his initial work in the film industry was on that side of the camera. His film acting debut came in 1934's "The Painted Veil," which also featured Warner Oland.

   

His first appearance as Lee Chan came in 1935, in "Charlie Chan in Paris."

Keye Luke idolized Warner Oland and called him "Pop" in real life. During an interview forty years later, Keye Luke would fondly recall in warm relationship with Oland. After Oland died, Luke also left the series. Fox went with Sidney Toler as Chan and Victor Sen Yung as #2 Son. But Luke would reprise his role in several of the later Monogram pictures.

When Oland died during the filming of Charlie Chan at the Ringside, Fox salvaged some of the footage for Mr. Moto's Gamble, where you can see Keye Luke as Moto assistant Lee Chan.

Luke was drafted into military service during World War II. He went back to college to learn Mandarin Chinese for the Marines.

Keye Luke appeared later in five films in the Dr. Kildare series, and later still, in the "Kung Fu" TV series as "Master Po".

   

Besides acting, Luke often served as a technical adviser on films with Chinese themes. In 1986, he won the first Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the Association of Asian/Pacific American Artists, and he was honored with a sidewalk star in the Hollywood Hall of Fame in December 1990.

A month later though, Keye Luke died from a stroke at the age of 86 on January 12, 1991.

He was survived by a daughter, Ethel Longenecker, whom he adopted in 1942 when he married Ethel Davis.




   
From Alice, Keye Luke's last role

VICTOR SEN YUNG

Born October 18, 1915 (San Francisco, Chinatown, California)
Died November 9, 1980 (North Hollywood, California)

   

At the age of twelve, Sen Yung (whose original name was Sen Yew Cheung) took a job as a houseboy for a family on Nob Hill to help finance his future education. He majored in animal husbandry at the College of Agriculture at the University of California, Berkeley, and later did graduate work with a major in economics at UCLA and USC.

He began acting in 1938 under the name Victor Yung. At that time he had been working for a chemical company and brought some samples of a new flame retardent to 20th Century Studios to sell. Instead of buying the chemicals, they tested him for the part of Charlie Chan's #2 son.

Victor Sen Yung debuted as Jimmy Chan in "Charlie Chan in Honolulu." Toler was debuting in his role as well. Sen Yung would appear in 19 Chan movies.


Sen Yung (right) with Sidney Toler

Sen Yung was a captain in intelligence for the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He would later play the Chinese cook "Hop Sing" on "Bonanza". In real life, he was an accomplished Cantonese cook, and penned the book "Great Wok Cookbook" in 1974.

Sadly, Sen Yung may have been the only cast member not to have prospered from the Charlie Chan series. He died in poverty at the age of 65 in a tenement apartment in North Hollywood, California on November 9, 1980, as a result of asphyixiation from a gas leak in a stove. He buried in Greenlawn Memorial Park at Colma, California.


Victor Sen Yung, Roland Winters & Keye Luke

BENSON FONG

Born October 10, 1916 (Sacramento, California)
Died August 1, 1987

Although Lee and Jimmy were the primary Chan onscreen offspring in the better Chan films, several other siblings made appearances.

Benson Fong appeared in several of the Toler Monogram pictures as #3 son Tommy. In the Monograms with Roland Winters as Chan, Sen Yung suddenly became Tommy Chan. In one film, Charlie Chan in the Secret Service, Tommy was joined by Iris, a Chan daughter, played by Marianne Quon. In Charlie Chan in Black Magic, daughter Frances Chan was played by actress Frances Chan.


Benson Fong with Marianne Quon as Iris Chan

Born the son of a well-to-do businessman, Benson Fong went to study in China after high school but eventually returned to Sacramento to open a grocery store.

Fong went on to great success in establishing the chain of popular California Chinese restaurants, Ah Fong's. The first cafe opened in 1946 on Vine Street in Hollywood at the suggestion of his friend Gregory Peck, who made a casual remark which appealed to Fong. After appearing together in "Keys of the Kingdom," Fong later recalled, Peck suggested they start a restaurant together.

In time there were to be four more -- in Encino, Beverly Hills, Anaheim, and one on Sunset Boulevard. The Ah in the Ah Fong's name is a term of respect in Chinese, he said. But actually, Fong said, he thought up the name while looking at the wrapper of an "Oh Henry!" candy bar.

In interview given shortly before his death, Fong summed up his life in this way: "Whatever I am ... is what I've wanted to be, nothing more and nothing less. Call me a happy man and you call me by my rightful name."

Benson Fong died August 1, 1987 at age 70 from complications of a stroke and was survived by his wife Gloria, five children and three grandchildren. Included in his five children are actresses Pamela Kwong and Lisa Fong, and popular Christian musician Preston 'Oden' Fong (of the Maranatha Music group and "Mustard Seed Faith" Christian band).


Benson Fong (right) with Sidney Toler

EDWIN LUKE

Born July 23, 1911 (Seattle, Washington)
Died January 18, 1986 (San Diego, California)

Not totally confused yet? Let's see if this can push you over the edge ...

In order of sibling seniority, the Chans' #4 son is Eddie Chan. The character appears in only one film, The Jade Mask (1945), and is played by Edwin Luke, Keye Luke's real-life younger brother.

Compared to his other siblings, Eddie is the intellectual one - a "very expensively educated bookworm," in Charlie's words. Eddie is also sensitive about his name, as when he admonishes Charlie, "Please father, call me Edward. Eddie is so juvenile." In one scene Charlie tells Eddie, who always has something to say, "My boy, if silence is golden, you are bankrupt."

LAYNE TOM, JR


Layne Tom, Jr., Warner Oland & Keye Luke

Earlier in the series, Layne Tom, Jr. first appeared in "Charlie Chan at the Olympics," as young Charlie Chan, Jr., then played the first incarnation of Tommy Chan, in "Charlie Chan in Honolulu." In "Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise," he played son Willie Chan.


Layne Tom, Jr., Warner Oland & Keye Luke