Victor Sen Yung

Victor Sen Yung (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: 扬森; pinyin: Yáng Sēn; Jyutping: Joeng4 Sam1; October 18, 1915 – c. October 31, 1980),[1] born Sen Yew Cheung,[2] was an American character actor, best known for playing Jimmy Chan in the Charlie Chan films and Hop Sing in the western series Bonanza. He was born in San Francisco, California to Gum Yung Sen and his first wife, both immigrants from China.[3]

Victor Sen Yung
Born(1915-10-18)October 18, 1915
DiedOctober 31, 1980(1980-10-31) (aged 65)[1]
Resting placeGreenlawn Memorial Park, Colma, California
Other namesSen Yung
Sen Young
Victor Sen Young
Victor Young
Years active1937–1980

When his mother died during the flu epidemic of 1919, his father placed Victor and his younger sister, Rosemary, in a children's shelter, and returned to his homeland to seek another wife. He returned in 1922 with his new wife, Lovi Shee, once again forming a household with his two children.[4]

During his acting career, Victor was given billing under a variety of names, including Sen Yung, Sen Young, Victor Sen Young, and Victor Young.


Sen Yung made his first significant acting debut in the 1938 film Charlie Chan in Honolulu, as the Chinese detective's "number two son," Jimmy Chan. In this movie, Sidney Toler replaced the recently deceased Warner Oland as Charlie Chan and Sen Yung replaced Oland's "number one son" Lee, who had been played by Keye Luke. Sen Yung played Jimmy Chan in 10 Charlie Chan films between 1938 and 1942. He played the crucial role of lawyer's clerk Ong Chi Seng alongside Bette Davis in The Letter (1940).

In common with other Chinese-American actors, Sen Yung was cast in Japanese parts during World War II, such as his role as the treacherous Japanese-American Joe Totsuiko in the 1942 Humphrey Bogart film Across the Pacific.

During World War II, he joined the U.S. Army Air Forces. During his military service, he was replaced in the Charlie Chan series by Benson Fong, who played "number three son", Tommy Chan. Yung's military service included work in training films at the First Motion Picture Unit and a role in the Army Air Forces' play and film Winged Victory.[5]

After the war, Sen Yung resumed his Hollywood career. The Charlie Chan series was now in the hands of Monogram Pictures, with Sidney Toler continuing in the leading role. Toler's health was failing by 1946; Monogram was conserving Toler's energy and shooting around him wherever possible, even reusing two-year-old footage to finish Toler's last film. To relieve the burden on Toler, Monogram hired his original screen foil, Sen Yung (now billing himself as Victor Sen Young). He and Mantan Moreland shared the spotlight in Toler's final two films, Shadows over Chinatown and The Trap. Following Toler's death in 1947, Victor Sen Young appeared in five of the remaining six Charlie Chan features. His character "Jimmy" was renamed "Tommy" (author Scott MacGillivray contends that "Jimmy" was so closely associated with Sidney Toler that audiences would miss seeing Toler opposite him, resulting in Monogram making the change).

Victor Sen Young continued to work in motion pictures and television, playing affable or earnest Asian characters. He is probably best remembered as Hop Sing, the cook on the long-running television series Bonanza, appearing in 102 episodes between 1959 and 1973.

Sen Yung was cast as the compassionate Chinese restaurant owner Quong Kee in Tombstone, Arizona, in the 1957 episode, "Quong Kee", of the syndicated television anthology series Death Valley Days, hosted by Stanley Andrews. In the story, an aging Quong Kee recalls how in 1881 he brought together the Bostonians Art Gresham (Walter Kelley) and his mother (played by Mary Newton) with the saloon musician Ann Bailey (Eugenia Paul), who after a topsy-turvy romance became Mrs. Art Gresham.[6]

In the early 1970s, Sen Yung had a recurring role in seven episodes of the tv series Kung Fu, which starred David Carradine as a Shaolin monk, also in the Old West.

Sen Yung was also an accomplished and talented chef. He frequently appeared on cooking programs, and authored The Great Wok Cookbook in 1974.

Plane hijacking

In 1972, Yung was on Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 710, which was hijacked. The FBI stormed the plane, and in the ensuing gunfire Sen Yung was shot in the lower back. He and another wounded passenger survived, but a third passenger and the two hijackers were killed.[7]

In 1975, he appeared on Garry Moore's To Tell The Truth and related the events of the hijacking. With Yung dressed in a sport coat and flanked by two dissimilar imposters, none of the four panelists was able to choose him as the character actor.

Death and legacy

Sen Yung died in his North Hollywood home in 1980. The actor, who ran a small mail-order Chinese pottery business, was creating clayware and curing the items with an oven, and died of natural gas poisoning from a gas leak. His body was found November 10, but he had reportedly been dead at least ten days, from possibly around October 31.[8]

Some reports suggested that the actor was murdered,[9] but police ultimately ruled the death accidental.[10] The eulogy at Sen Yung's funeral was given by fellow Bonanza actor Pernell Roberts, who also paid the funeral expenses.

The Victor Sen Yung memorial scholarship is awarded each year by the Chinese Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley, where Sen Yung majored in animal husbandry.

Selected filmography


  • Terry and the Pirates 2 episodes (Oriental in "Little Mandarin") (Taiwan in "The Randall Affair") (1953)
  • Adventures of Superman 1 episode (Harry Wong in "The Riddle of the Chinese Jade") (1953)
  • Chevron Theatre 1 episode (Yin Yun in "Black Lead") (1953)
  • Waterfront 1 episode (Cecil Imai in "Fog Bound") (1954)
  • Biff Baker, U.S.A. 1 episode (Yin Yun in "Black Lead") (1954)
  • Stories of the Century 1 episode (Chang (uncredited) in "Black Bart") (1954)
  • Your Favorite Story 1 episode ("The Man Trap") (1954)
  • Captain Midnight 1 episode (Ling in "The Lost Moon") (1954)
  • Medic 1 episode (Dr. Nagano in "Flash of Darkness") (1955) as Victor Sen-Yung
  • The Star and the Story 1 episode (Peng in "The Back to Beyond") (1955)
  • Crusader 1 episode (Lu Chen in "A Little Friend") (1956)
  • The Lone Ranger (ABC) 1 episode (Lee Po in "The Letter Bride") (1956) as Victor Sen Young
  • Crossroads 1 episode (Sam Lu in "Big Sombrero") (1957)
  • Richard Diamond, Private Detective 1 episode (Magan in "Chinese Honeymoon") (1958)
  • Navy Log 1 episode (Red Officer in "One Grand Marine") (1958)
  • Broken Arrow 1 episode (Ling Tang in "Courage of Ling Tang") (1958)
  • Death Valley Days 1 episode (Quon Lee in "Quon Lee") (1958)
  • Mike Hammer 1 episode ("The Last Aloha") (1959)
  • Yancy Derringer 1 episode (Hon Lee in "The Quiet Firecracker") (1959)
  • Man Without a Gun 1 episode (Ho Wang in "Daughter of the Dragon") (1959)
  • Bronco 1 episode (Mr. Fong in "Game at the Beacon Club") (1959)
  • Shotgun Slade 1 episode (Willy Sing - Tong man in "Sudden Death") (1960)
  • Thriller 1 episode (Bartender in "The Twisted Image") (1960)
  • Checkmate 1 episode (Han in "Terror From the East") (1961)
  • Hong Kong 2 episodes (Yang in "Blind Bargain") (1960) (Tung Poy in "Nightcry") (1961)
  • The Rifleman 1 episode (Wang Chi in "The Queue") (1961)
  • Perry Mason (CBS) 2 episodes (Mickey Fong in "The Case of the Garrulous Gambler") (1959) (Sheng in "The Case of the Malicious Mariner") (1961)
  • Bachelor Father 6 episodes (Cousin Charlie Fong/Lee) (1960–1961)
  • The Jack Benny Program 1 episode (Chinese cafeteria employee in "Jack Goes to Cafeteria") (1961)
  • Follow the Sun 1 episode (Wong in "Annie Beeler's Place") (1962)
  • Ensign O'Toole 1 episode (Shopkeeper in "Operation Kowana") (1962)
  • Hawaiian Eye 3 episodes (Archibald Chu Sin in "Secret of the Second Door") (1959) (Al in "Vanessa Vanishes") (1960) (Sam in "Blow Low, Blow Blue") (1963)
  • Mickey 1 episode (Fu Chu man in "The Way the Fortune Cookie Crumbles") (1964)
  • Kraft Suspense Theatre 1 episode (Captain Fong in "Jungle of Fear") (1965)
  • Mister Ed 1 episode (Waiter in "Coldfinger") (1965)
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 1 episode (Servant in "The Abominable Snowman Affair") (1966)
  • The F.B.I. 2 episodes (Joseph Sakanishi in "The Hiding Place") (1966) (Mayor Eto in "The Death Wind") (1966)
  • Gomer Pyle, USMC 1 episode (Businessman in "You Bet Your Won Ton") (1967)
  • I Spy 2 episodes (Li Wing in "Weight of the World") (1965) (Han in "Pinwheel") (1968)
  • The Wild Wild West 1 episode (Baron Kyosai in "The Night of the Camera" (1968)
  • Hawaii Five-O 1 episode (Dr. Leo Kuh in "Face of the Dragon") (1969)
  • Here's Lucy 2 episodes (Waiter in "Lucy's Birthday") (1968) (Murphy in "Lucy and the Generation Gap") (1969)
  • Get Smart 2 episodes (Yamasaki in "A Tale of Two Tails") (1968) (Abe Fu Yung in "I Am Curiously Yellow") (1970)
  • Night Gallery 1 episode (Joseph the butler in "Rare Objects") (1972)
  • Bonanza 106 episodes Hop Sing (1959–1973)
  • The Paul Lynde Show 1 episode (Mr. Fong in "Back Talk") (1973)
  • The Red Pony (TV movie) (Mr. Sing/Carni man/Mr.Green) (1973)
  • Kung Fu 7 episodes (1972–1974)
  • Police Woman 1 episode (Ah Choy in "Nothing Left to Lose") (1975)
  • Barbary Coast 1 episode (Soong in "Guns for a Queen") (1975)
  • Isis 1 episode (Mr. Chen in "Year of the Dragon") (1976)
  • How the West Was Won 1 episode (Hospital attendant in "China Girl") (1979)


  1. Wisconsin State Journal, November 10, 1980, Section 1, Page 10
  2. Brumburgh, Gary. "Victor Sen Yung: Biography". IMDB (Internet Movie Database)., Inc. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  3. His father's name is given in the dedication to the Great Wok Cookbook.
  4. United States Census, 1930, Household of Gum Young Sen, San Francisco (Districts 251-409), San Francisco, California. NARA Publication: T626, roll 209; Enumeration District Number: 0393; Family Number: 584; Sheet Number and Letter: 30B; Line Number: 59
  5. San Antonio Light, September 29, 1944, p. 8-C
  6. "Quong Kee on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  7. Ada Evening News, July 6, 1972, p. 1
  8. "'Bonanza's' Hop Sing found dead". Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. November 10, 1980. p. 11-A. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  9. Valley Independent, November 11, 1980, page 8
  10. Indiana (Pennsylvania) Gazette, November 10, 1980, page 4
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