Toshia Mori

Toshia Mori (としあ もり) was a Japanese actress who had a brief career in American films during the 1930s. Born as Toshiye Ichioka (としえ いちおか)[1] in Kyoto, Mori moved to the United States when she was 10.

Toshia Mori
Born
Toshiye Ichioka

(1912-01-01)January 1, 1912
DiedNovember 26, 1995(1995-11-26) (aged 83)
Other namesToshia Ichioka, Toshi Ichioka, Toshi Mori, Tashia Mori, Shia Jung
OccupationActress
Years active1927–1937
Spouse(s)Allen Jung (m. 1934)

Early life and career

Mori began her film career in silent films in the late 1920s. In Mr. Wu (1927) she was credited as Toshia Ichioka. In Streets of Shanghai (1927), she was credited as Toshiye Ichioka. In The Man Without a Face[2] she was also credited as Toshiye Ichioka, her birth name. (The film is presumed lost.)[3] Finally, she entered the sound era as Toshia Mori.

Mori played Miss Ling, in The Hatchet Man (1932).[4] In the same year, she played another Chinese character, "Butterfly", in Roar of the Dragon, an action-melodrama produced by David O. Selznick. The storyline consisted of a group of Occidentals turning to an alcoholic riverboat captain Chauncey Carson (Richard Dix) for help when they are trapped at a hotel in a Mandarin town under siege.[5]

In 1932, Toshia became the only Asian and non-Caucasian actress to be selected as a WAMPAS Baby Star, an annual list of young and promising film actresses.[6] WAMPAS may have led to the most significant film role of her career, for shortly afterward, she appeared in Frank Capra's film The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), a role that was originally scheduled for Anna May Wong. The story involved the erotically charged relationship between a missionary (Barbara Stanwyck) and a Chinese warlord (Nils Asther). The script also featured a vital character, Mah-Li, a concubine whose scheming throws a spanner into the plots of those around her. Capra and Columbia Pictures, both extremely happy with Mori's work, awarded her third billing. Time's favorable review read: "Stanwyck is satisfactory … but the most noteworthy female member of the cast is Toshia Mori, a sloe-eyed Japanese girl…"[7]

Mori returned to minor characters in her subsequent films, in The Painted Veil (1934), starring Greta Garbo, she materializes as the centerpiece of "The Moon Festival" sequence. In Chinatown Squad (1935) she played "Wanda".[8] In Charlie Chan on Broadway in 1937, Lee (Keye Luke) becomes involved with Ling Tse (Toshia Mori), an employee of the Hottentot Club.

Post-cinema life

In 1930, Mori married Allen Jung, a Chinese-American from San Francisco.[9] After her film career ended, Mori worked as a researcher for Robert Ripley on his short films, Ripley's Believe It or Not. She died in The Bronx, New York, aged 83. She is interred at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.[10]

Filmography

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1926The House Without a Key
  • uncredited
1927Mr. Wu
  • credited as Toshia
1927Streets of Shanghai
  • credited as Toshyie
1928The Man Without a Face
  • credited as Toshiye Ichioka.
  • Film serial Presumed lost.

1932 in film Tiger Shark

1932The Secrets of Wu Sin
1932The Hatchet ManMiss Ling, Secretary
1932Roar of the DragonButterfly
1933The Bitter Tea of General YenMah-Li, Concubine
1933Blondie JohnsonLulu
1934The Painted VeilCentrepiece
  • centrepiece of "The Moon Festival" sequence
1935Chinatown SquadWanda
1936Charlie Chan at the CircusSu Toy, contortionist

credited as Shia Jung

1937Charlie Chan on BroadwayLing Tse, receptionist

Further reading

  • The Wampas Baby Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1922–1934 (ISBN 0-7864-0756-5) includes biographies of every actress selected, including lists of films in which she appeared.

References

  1. "Ancestry Library Edition". Ancestrylibrary.com. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  2. The Man Without a Face (1928). IMDb.com; accessed December 6, 2017.
  3. "Man Without a Face". Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved 2008-02-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), silentera.com; accessdate December 6, 2017.
  4. Hall, Mordaunt. (1932-02-04) Review of ''The Hatchet Man''. Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-30.
  5. Review of ''Roar of the Dragon''. Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2013-09-30.
  6. The WAMPAS Baby Stars, b-westerns.com; retrieved 2013-09-30.
  7. Cinema: The New Pictures: Jan. 23, 1933. (Review of The Bitter Tea of General Yen) Time.com (1933-01-23); retrieved 2013-09-30.
  8. At the Mayfair. New York Times (1935-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-09-30.
  9. A conference of Japanese America Actors, Artists, Activists and Interested Critics. resisters.com.
  10. Toshia Mori, Find A Grave; retrieved 2013-09-30.
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