Thursday, May 10, 2018

Victor Sen Yung - a remarkable life

Victor Sen Yung made his name on the screen by playing Jimmy Chan, the son of detective Charlie Chan, in that series of movies, and also cook Hop Sing on the long-running television series Bonanza. So, his is a very familiar face to my generation.

What most of his fans probably do not know, however, are the facts that made his life fairly unique in Hollywood. He was born to Chinese immigrants. His mother died when he was about four years old in the influenza epidemic that decimated the population during the World War I years. His father traveled to China to remarry, then returned with his wife to re-establish the household.

Yung majored in animal husbandry at the University of California. He joined the Army Air Force during World War II and was involved in the production of several training films.

His role as Hop Sing was no fluke, for he was a very accomplished chef, and appeared in several cooking shows on television. He also authored The Great Wok Cookbook in 1974.

The circumstances of Yung's death were unusual. He ran a small mail-order Chinese pottery business in his home, and used an oven to cure the items. He died of a natural gas leak from the oven, and he had been dead at least ten days before his body was found. Actor Pernell Robert, who portrayed Adam on the Gunsmoke program, delivered the eulogy and paid for his funeral expenses.


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