These Nightclub Entertainers Paved The Way For Asian-Americans In Showbiz

March 14, 2015 11:35 AM

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These Nightclub Entertainers Paved The Way For Asian-Americans In Showbiz

As a kid growing up in San Francisco, filmmaker Arthur Dong often walked by a nightclub just outside of Chinatown. "I remember distinctly looking at the marquee and looking at the glass display case [with] all these wonderful black and white photos of Chinese people, but dressed in zoot suits and 1940s kind of gowns and tuxedos," he says. "And I had never seen Chinese dressed like that."

The club was called Forbidden City, after the Ming Dynasty imperial palace, and in 1989 Dong released a documentary about it. The film, Forbidden City, USA, captured a little-known chapter of entertainment history: the Chinese-American nightclub scene that flourished in San Francisco in the 1940s an...

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