Stereotyping in Hollywood

Stereotyping: the Chinese Detective who was not Chinese, the Irishman who never played an Irishman and the woman who was Black and was viewed as White

Born April 28, 1874
Warrensburg, Missouri, U.S.
Died February 12, 1947 (aged 72)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, playwright, theatre director
Years active 1903–1947
Spouse(s) Vivian Marston (1907-1943) (her death)
Viva Tattersall (1943-1947) (his death)

Sidney Toler (April 28, 1874 – February 12, 1947) was an American actor, playwright, and theatre director. Of primarily Scottish ancestry, he was the second non-Asian actor to play the role of Charlie Chan on screen.

Yeah, I know, he is not Chinese but for some reason he was my favorite Charlie Chan.  He nailed it for me.  Was he an affront to the Asian community.  Probably.  But there are a lot of old actors who played all sorts of roles.

J Carroll Naish in Hit The Deck (Trailer).png

from the trailer for Hit The Deck (1955)
Born Joseph Patrick Carroll Naish
January 21, 1896
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died January 24, 1973 (aged 77)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Cause of death Emphysema
Resting place Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles
Nationality American
Other names Carol Naish
Carroll Naish
Carrol Naish
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926–1971
Spouse(s) Gladys Heaney (m. 1929–73)
Children 1
Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture (1944)


Of Irish descent, he rarely played an Irishman, explaining, “When the part of an Irishman comes along, nobody ever thinks of me.”[a] He portrayed numerous other ethnicities including Southern European, Eastern European, Latin American, Native American, Middle Eastern, South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander—even African American, which earned him the moniker “Hollywood’s one-man U.N.”.[3]

An Irish actor who never played anyone from Ireland.  Yet he pulled it off in so many pictures.  I always thought he was Italian.

And then there were these people.

2.  Merle Oberon (1911-1979)

Merle Oberon earned an Oscar nod for her acting in 1935’s “The Dark Angel” and earned additional recognition for playing Cathy in 1939’s “Wuthering Heights.” But off screen, Oberon feared that her secrets would be exposed. She wasn’t solely white nor was she born in Tasmania like actor Errol Flynn, as she told people. Instead, she was born in India to an Indian mother and an Anglo father. Rather than disown her mother, Oberon passed her parent off as a servant. When the actress visited Tasmania later in life, the press hounded her for details about her upbringing, forcing her to admit that she wasn’t born there. Still, Oberon did not confess to being Indian. The 2002 documentary “The Trouble with Merle” examines Oberon’s deceit about her origins.

Imagine passing off your mother as a servant to hide the secret.  Wow!

Allen Warren/Wikimedia Commons
Carol Channing.

  Carol Channing (born 1921)

When Broadway sensation Carol Channing was 16, her mother let her in on a secret. Channing’s paternal grandmother was black. With this knowledge in tow, Channing went on to win accolades for her performances in “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.” Known for being a gay rights advocate, Channing didn’t reveal her African-American ancestry to the world until 2002, when she released her memoir, Just Lucky I Guess, at the age of 81. Today Channing says she never felt ashamed of her black roots. Rather, she believed her black ancestry made her a good performer because of the common stereotype about blacks being naturals at singing and dancing. “

Now this is a shocker.  Hello, Dolly is a Black Women.

In the end does it really matter.  These people pulled it off.  Would a person that fit the description be just as good.  Maybe and maybe not.  Either way it was the dark days and now we are more in the light.


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