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PHILIP AHN - A SHINING STAR
A GREAT ACTOR AND PIONEER
Written by Philip (Flip) Ahn Cuddy


Philip Ahn, Anna May Wong, and others surround the ailing Akim Tamirov in this publicity still for the German release of King of Chinatown Philip Ahn was cast in dozens of propaganda films that stirred up hate for the Japanese during World War II. He played many roles as the cruel Japanese officer who tortured American flyers and soldiers for information. He once said making people hate the Japanese was a way for him to actively participate in the Independence Movement of Korea, in which his father had been a great leader against imperialism. He played his roles so well that he was personally attacked by people who took the movies seriously. Hate mail, threats on his life, and other manifestations of his unpopularity soon convinced Ahn one way to stop it was to quit acting and join the Army. He served the United States with distinction.

PHILIP AHN'S
Filmography

  • One-Eyed Jacks
  • The Great Impostor
  • Fair Wind to Java
  • China
  • Back to Bataan
  • Love's a Many Splendored Thing
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie
  • Shock Corridor
  • A Girl Named Tamiko
  • The Karate Killers
  • The Story of Dr. Wassell
  • Battle Circus
  • Daughter of Shanghai
  • Battle Hymn
  • The Left Hand of God
  • His Majesty O'Keefe
  • Never So Few
  • God Is My Co-Pilot
  • Paradise Hawaiian Style
  • The World's Greatest Athlete
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull
  • Yesterday's Enemy
  • Hong Kong Confidential
  • The Adventures of Smilin' Jack
  • Macao
  • Barricade
  • Betrayal From the East
  • China Venture
  • The Shanghai Story
  • Blood on the Sun
  • Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture
  • Buck Rogers
  • Charlie Chan in Honolulu
  • China Corsair
  • China Girl
  • China Passage
  • China Sky
  • The Chinese Ring
  • The Cobra Strikes
  • The Creeper
  • Disputed Passage
  • Don Winslow of the Coast Guard
  • Confessions of an Opium Eater
  • Battle Zone
  • The Big Hangover
  • Diamond Head
  • The General Died at Dawn
  • I Was an American Spy
  • Intrigue
  • Japanese War Bride
  • The Keys of the Kingdom
  • King of Chinatown
  • Let's Get Tough
  • The Miracle of the Bells
  • Hawaii Calls
  • Halls of Montezuma
  • Hell's Half Acre
  • Red Barry
  • Red Snow
  • Roaring Timber
  • Secrets of Monte Carlo
  • Something to Sing About
  • State Department - File 649
  • Submarine Raider
  • Target-Hong Kong
  • Thank You, Mr. Moto
  • They Got Me Covered
  • The Way to the Gold
  • Women in the Night
  • A Yank on the Burma Road
  • Ahn was asked many times about his playing the role of Japanese "heavies." People who interviewed him wondered about how the death of his father at the hands of the Japanese in 1938 affected his emotions during his portrayal of a Japanese character. "True I hated the Japanese, but I told myself that if I was going to play the enemy, I was going to play him as viciously as I could. In Back to Bataan (RKO, 1945) I slapped little children and went so far as to hang a teacher from an American flagpole. I took pride in being the most evil man alive."

    It wasn't always the heavy role for Philip Ahn. His role of Ping, the sympathetic assistant to Gary Cooper in The Story of Dr. Wassell, the romantic lead opposite beautiful Anna May Wong in Daughter of Shanghai, which he said was his most favorite film, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing with William Holden and Jennifer Jones, Around the World in Eighty Days, Thoroughly Modern Millie with Julie Andrews and Carol Channing, and Paradise Hawaiian Style with Elvis Presley offered him roles of compassion, humor, and warmhearted wisdom. Philip also made an appearance in an episode of Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone."

    In the late 1950s, along with his movie career, he helped his sister Soorah Ahn open a Chinese restaurant in Panorama City. The restaurant was in business at 8632 Van Nuys Boulevard for thirty years. It was one of the very first Chinese restaurants in the San Fernando Valley. Philip's popularity and naming it "Phil Ahn's Moongate" brought in the crowds for three decades. On the weekends there would be a long line to get a table. A lot of kids thought he was a real bad guy and were scared to meet him. But many happy customers got a great meal and an autographed photo. The food was very well prepared and even received a good comment from famous taste tester Elmer Dills. Today many people still have fond memories of the Moongate.

    Philip Ahn was very involved in the community's affairs as well as entertaining them. In May of 1962 at the first annual Panorama City Chamber of Commerce Day, Philip Ahn was installed as Honorary Mayor of Panorama City. Philip had always found a way to cross lines that others could not. He used his confidence and intelligence to gain acceptance. this appointment added great esteem to the Chamber because of Philip's stature as a well-known international motion picture and television actor. Members from the State Assembly, the County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles City Council, and Mayor Sam Yorty's office participated in this event to welcome Philip to the political community. Actually, Philip Ahn was a great diplomat and liked to be involved with lots of people. The political community was another stage on which Philip found it comfortable to perform.

    During Tom Bradley's era of running Los Angeles, Philip gave his assistance. He was responsible for giving Korean Americans and the Korean nation some visibility and identity. Two the projects he led were the establishment of Los Angeles as a sister city to Pusan, Korea, and the Korean Friendship Bell. Among Philip's belongings were hundreds of letters from politicians, both Republican and Democratic, and community leaders from all ethnic and mainstream communities thanking him for his participation and support for a wide variety of causes. Philip Ahn definitely gave more than he took.

    Philip Ahn and Anna May Wong in a publicity still for Daughter of Shanghai His early involvement in international affairs at USC came in handy during this facet of his life. His acting made him a great public figure and excellent speaker. He was the honorary mayor of Panorama City for almost twenty years. He was a strong spokesperson for the Korean community and his ability has never been matched, and most likely never will.

    By the 1960s, Philip Ahn had worked with many great stars such as Bing Crosby, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Key Luke, Richard Loo, Madeline Carroll, Anna May Wong, Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple, and Mae West, to name a few. He had worked for Desilu, Four Star, Screen Gems, Warner Brothers, MGM, Universal International, Paramount, 20th Century, RKO, Columbia, and all the other major studios. Ahn got to travel the world to filming locations in Hawaii, Fiji, Hong Kong, and Europe, to list a few. He worked hard at developing his skills. He played his parts well. His great success was a product of his determination to be one of the best.


    To continue the article, click HERE

      Part 1: His early years and parents
      Part 2: Education background and beginning years in the film industry
      Part 3: Details on his movie career, restaurant and community involvement
      Part 4: His commitment to the U.S. troops, his last roles and his concern for APA actors
      Part 5: Legacy of his achievements



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