Chester Gan

Chester Gan was an American character actor of Chinese descent who worked in Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1950s.

Chester Bue Gan
Born(1908-07-04)July 4, 1908
Grass Valley, California, USA
DiedJune 29, 1959(1959-06-29) (aged 50)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Years active1932–1959
Spouse(s)Mei Heong Lee


Chester Gan was born in Grass Valley, California, to Wing Hong Gan and Wong Shee. He went to China for university, where he developed an interest in acting.[1] Upon his return to the United States, he headed to Los Angeles, where he worked as an engineer.[1]

In 1932, Gan's acting career in Hollywood began as a Chinese guard in Secrets of the French Police. Gan played almost a hundred roles, typically portraying Asian stereotypes, from the Chinese cook or waiter to the Japanese enemy soldier. (He once joked that as an actor, he was responsible for hundreds of on-screen deaths.) He also worked as an interpreter and a consultant on Chinese culture and customs on Hollywood films like The Good Earth.[2][3]

Aside from his acting career, owned a slipper store and a restaurant in Los Angeles's Chinatown neighborhood.[4] World War II put a pause on his career as an actor, as he joined the navy.[5][6] He died in San Francisco—where he operated a photography business—in 1959 after a brief illness. He was survived by his wife, his four children, and his father.[7]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1931PrestigeSoldier in Indo-ChinaUncredited
1932War CorrespondentBanditUncredited
1932Secrets of the French PoliceChinese GuardUncredited[8]
1933The World Gone MadAlpha Delta - Houston's ServantUncredited
1933Meet the BaronChinese ManUncredited
1934Lazy RiverSam Kee's HenchmanUncredited
1934Monte Carlo NightsLarry's ValetUncredited
1934The Red RiderWingSerial, Uncredited
1934Fighting ThroughWong
1934Tailspin TommyFlapjack - the CookSerial, Ch. 1, Uncredited
1934The Mysterious Mr. WongTung's Secret Service AgentUncredited
1935The Case of the Curious BridePing - Perry's Servant at PartyUncredited
1935Vagabond LadyJapanese FishermanUncredited
1935Shadows of the OrientChinaman at Canton HouseUncredited
1935China SeasRickshaw BoyUncredited
1935Wanderer of the WastelandLing
1935The Bishop MisbehavesChinese Man SmokingUncredited
1935Moonlight on the PrairieChinese CookUncredited
1935East of JavaCrewmanUncredited
1935Last of the PagansChinese CookUncredited
1936The Adventures of Frank MerriwellLumber Camp CookSerial, Uncredited
1936Drift FenceClarenceUncredited
1936Klondike AnnieShip's CookUncredited
1936Sutter's GoldCharlie - Chinese WaiterUncredited
1936Small Town GirlWingUncredited
1936The Country BeyondChinese CookUncredited
1936San FranciscoJowl LeeUncredited
1936Sea SpoilersOil
1936Ace DrummondKai-ChekSerial
1936Mad HolidayVendorUncredited
1936Hideaway GirlChinese cook
1936Arizona MahoneyChinese Man at Sing-a-LongUncredited
1936Crack-UpHouse BoyUncredited
1936StowawayChinese MerchantUncredited
1936After the Thin ManChinese WaiterUncredited
1937The Mighty TreveChang
1937The Good EarthTeahouse SingerUncredited, (credited as Chester Gann)
1937China PassageRooftop MarauderUncredited
1937Slave ShipCrew MemberUncredited
1937Wild West DaysWong, 1st CookSerial, (Ch's. 4-5)
1937West of ShanghaiKung Nui
1937MannequinChinese WaiterUncredited
1937Thank You, Mr. MotoWingUncredited
1937Wells FargoChinese WorkmanUncredited
1938Love Is a HeadacheLouie, Peter's ButlerUncredited
1938International SettlementGreen Dragon ProprietorUncredited
1938Gold Is Where You Find ItWong - McCooey's ServantUncredited
1938Air DevilsHotel WaiterUncredited
1938Speed to BurnChungUncredited
1938The Mexicali KidMo Cort - Chinese Cook
1938Too Hot to HandleChinese SergeantUncredited
1938Shadows Over ShanghaiLun Sat Li
1939North of ShanghaiPoliceman 'C'
1939Blackwell's IslandWong, Prison LaundrymanUncredited
1939Nancy Drew... ReporterWaiterUncredited
1939The Mystery of Mr. WongSing, the Butler
1939King of ChinatownMr. Foo
1939Torchy Runs for MayorLing - Ward's AssistantUncredited
1939No Place to GoChengUncredited
1939BarricadeMongol Bandit LeaderUncredited
1939Westbound StageCharlie
1940My Little ChickadeeChinese Train PassengerUncredited
1940'Til We Meet AgainHong Kong PolicemanUncredited
1940Pals of the Silver SageLing
1940The Carson City KidWong Lee
1941Ellery Queen's Penthouse MysteryHenchmanUncredited
1941Man-Made MonsterWong
1941Singapore WomanWaiter at Crow's NestUncredited
1941The Get-AwaySam
1941They Met in BombayWoo Tau WooUncredited
1941Rawhide RangersSing Lo - the Cook
1941Passage from Hong KongChung
1941The Maltese FalconBit PartUncredited
1941Burma ConvoyKeela
1942All Through the NightGloves' Rescuer at Nazi MeetingUncredited
1942A Yank on the Burma RoadDoctorUncredited
1942To the Shores of TripoliChinese Man Watching ParadeUncredited
1942MoontideHenry Hirota[9]


1942The Tuttles of TahitiEmily's servantUncredited
1942Escape from Hong KongTamoto
1942Submarine RaiderYoshiwaraUncredited
1942Busses RoarYamanito
1942Across the PacificCaptain Higoto
1942Flying TigersMike the Mechanic[11]
1942Heart of the Golden WestChinese CookUncredited
1942China GirlJapanese OfficerUncredited
1943The Amazing Mrs. HollidayYoung FarmerUncredited
1943ChinaJapanese General[12]
1943Crash DiveLee WongUncredited
1943Salute to the MarinesJapanese OfficerUncredited
1959Blood AlleyFerry Boat CaptainUncredited


  1. "Chinese Comic in New Role at the Cameo". The Bristol Herald Courier. 30 Jun 1940. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  2. "Gan Chinese Teacher". Chattanooga Daily Times. 24 Dec 1935. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  3. "Gelatin Gleanings". The Baltimore Sun. 15 Mar 1936. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  4. "Gan Just Kidding When He's Killing". The Pittsburgh Press. 15 Apr 1941. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  5. "Buck Private Almost Becomes Japanese General". The Dispatch. 6 Feb 1943. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  6. Naval Aviation News. Chief of Naval Operations and Naval Air Systems Command, Navy Department. 1956.
  7. "Chester Gan, Filmland Character Actor, Dies Here". The San Francisco Examiner. 30 Jun 1959. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  8. "Secrets of the French Police (1932)". IMDb. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  9. "Moontide (1942)". IMDb. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  10. Crowther, Bosley (April 30, 1942). "Review1 -- No Title". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  11. "Flying Tigers". NNDB. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  12. "China (1943)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
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