Victor Sen Yung

Victor Sen Yung was an Asian-American actor at a time when Asian actors were, more often than not, relegated to playing cooks, servants, peasants, or sadistic villains with inscrutable plans for worldwide domination. For many minority actors who wished to move beyond the stereotypes, maintaining employment in Hollywood came with making difficult choices, since those types of roles were sometimes the only thing available. Sen Yung is probably best known for his role as the Cartwright family's cook, Hop Sing, on the classic Western television program "Bonanza." The role was that of a stereotypical "Oriental"--hair-triggered, and always ready to chase the character of Hoss around with a cleaver whenever the big guy came near the soup. He is also well-known, especially by crime buffs, for his role as Jimmy, the Number Two son in a series of Charlie Chan mysteries produced in the 1930s for 20th Century Fox and later, after World War II, for the poverty row studio Monogram. Sen Yung served proudly in the U.S. military during the war, but when it came to the movies he played a U.S. traitor in the Humphrey Bogart war picture "Across the Pacific." In 1972, the actor found himself embroiled in an airline hijacking and was shot (but survived) when FBI agents and hijackers opened fire. He died at the age of 65 of asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning while baking clayware in his oven.