Was the actor Anna May Wong a Christian Scientist?

May 22, 2023

Portrait of Anna May Wong looking up and to her right

Anna May Wong stars as Liu Chang in the 1934 film Tiger Bay.
Hulton Archive/Stringer/Moviepix/Getty Images.

In 2022 Anna May Wong (1905–1961) became the first Asian American featured on United States currency, as part of the American Women Quarters Program.

Born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles, to immigrant parents, Wong had a decades-long film career. As the first Chinese-American movie star, she faced racism and sexism that limited her screen roles. Nevertheless in spite of this, she became well-known in North America, Europe, and Asia.1 

We are sometimes asked if Wong was a Christian Scientist. Her biographer, Graham Russell Gao Hodges, states that she was “raised in a combination of Presbyterian and neo-Confucian faiths.” According to Hodges, Wong was indeed a Christian Scientist for some time as an adult. We do not yet know how she first came in contact with the religion, or the extent of her involvement.2 

Wong was not a member of The Mother Church (The First Church of Christ, Scientist). But this would not have prevented her from attending a Christian Science branch church or studying the religion’s teachings.

According to Hodges, Wong’s interest in Christian Science waned by the mid-1950s. She began participating in classes at a Unity church, a part of the New Thought movement, and continued that interest until the time of her death.3 

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  1. Graham Russell Gao Hodges, Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004).
  2. Hodges, From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend.
  3. Hodges, From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend.