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


Although he was born in the U.S. and was one of America's great citizens, Philip Ahn was a true son of Korea. He upheld his Confucian role of filial piety. He honorably upheld his father's dignity and dedication to bring independence to Korea. He cared for his mother and family. He never denied his Korean heritage. He worked for the Korean people and helped them throughout his life.

Every house Philip Ahn called home was open to all kinds of people. The Victorian houses, the house above the Hollywood Bowl, the beautiful Northridge home. . . . The pioneer Korean American community was centered on the Ahn family's residences in the early 1900s. And, many of the Koreans coming from Korea in the 1960s and early 1970s came to Philip and his mother for advice and assistance. Once, an entire crew from a Korean navy ship docked in Long Beach came for dinner. Korean businessmen and politicians came to Philip's home for support and introductions. American politicians sought Philip's fame to enhance their campaigns and raise funds. American businessmen sought his endorsements of their products and contacts in Korea. And the Hollywood crowd made their appearances as well. The Ahn family always gathered here for the holidays. If only the walls could tell the great things we don't know.

Memorial in Riverside California honoring Philip Ahn's father One of Philip's greatest projects was the building of a memorial park and burial site for his father and mother. Philip's father had been buried in the hills far from Seoul under orders of the Japanese, who wanted Koreans to forget the greatness of their nationalist leader. After years of planning and many trips to Korea, Philip Ahn's dream came true in November 1973. Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Park was dedicated and opened in Seoul, Korea. Philip brought his mother from Los Angeles to be buried next to Dosan at their final resting place. Dosan had left America in 1926 for the last time. He never saw his family again and never had the chance to see or hold his youngest son, Ralph.

Helen Lee, Philip's mother, had only returned to Korea once, in 1963, after leaving in 1902. Philip convinced President Park Chung Hee and others that this was the right thing to do. And it was. Today, twenty-six years later, the park is one of the most beautiful spots in Seoul. The ten acres are covered with beautiful foliage and monuments. Each weekend hundreds of brides and grooms take their wedding photos there. Children play, lovers walk, and people exercise. In a sense, Dosan Ahn Chang Ho and Helen Lee still give their home to others. This was one of Philip's greatest acts.

Dosan Heritage Society

This is a study group for undergraduate students devoted to Dosan Ahn Chang Ho (Philip Ahn's father).

Specifically to explore the ideas and his historical legacy, as Dosan is known as the eminent independence activist and educator.

The Dosan Heritage Society Inauguration Dinner featured Susan Ahn Cuddy and Philip Ahn Cuddy (Dosan's daughter and grandson,respectively) as special guest speakers. Philip Ann Cuddy is the writer of this article.

Click HERE for more info.

Philip Ahn died on February 28, 1978. He died from complications of a biopsy for lung cancer which led to pneumonia. He went to the hospital thinking he would be out in a few days. He knew he had problems from his daily smoking of cigarettes for most of his life. But he did not feel like he would not make it through this simple operation. He had many noble plans in the works. There was a documentary film about his father to be made and the memorial hall at the park in Seoul to be finished. He never married. Maybe it was the toll of raising his brothers and sisters in place of his father. Or, maybe his heart never overcame his love for Anna May Wong. His life was filled with fame and accomplishment, but he did have his full share of difficulty and tragedy. He had no will and left no instructions to the family bout what to do with their great legacy. It was an untimely death and a painful one. Philip Ahn was honestly one of the best, a shining star.

Such a great man and still Philip appears to be a forgotten man. He did receive a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. On November 14, 1984, family members and about 400 people gathered to pay their tribute to one of the most famous Asian actors in the history of motion pictures. His star found its place at 6211 Hollywood boulevard near Argyle Avenue. Mayor Tom Bradley proclaimed November 14th Philip Ahn Day and Korean Day for the City of Los Angeles.

The first Korean American born in the United States became quite a citizen. Thinking about all of his accomplishments, he earned and deserved more recognition than one star. And Philip Ahn is definitely a tough act to follow.


To return to the beginning of 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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