Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Tsai Chin

I finished Tsai Chin's autobiography, Daughter of Shanghai, this week and I thoroughly loved the book.

The actress' life would itself make a wonderful film and the story of her life is told with an economy that is refreshing; where an other actress would devote pages and pages to the famous people -- especially the male ones! -- in her life, Tsai Chin spends more time on her production of Shakespeare's The Tempest in Beijing in 1982. As someone who took 5 consecutive semesters of Shakespeare in college by design, I enjoyed this section of the book the most.

There is some mention of the 5 Fu Manchu films that Tsai Chin did with Christopher Lee, as well as a nice little anecdote about turning down work with Benny Hill, despite admiration for the comedian, for fear that the comedy would be stereotypical and offensive.

Interestingly enough, the book was written a good 6 years before the triumphs of Tsai Chin in the film version of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club.

And, another bit of trivia, the actress mentions her sister, Susan, and a few visits to Washington, D.C. suburb Silver Spring, the town in which I've worked for the past 5 years and where I've shopped at various book/record/comic book stores for a good 30 more.

This picture is so great that I had to post it. It speaks of a different era, and Western styles making themselves felt in the East, but the younger version of the actress is recognizable and her expression reveals so much of her personality with one glance.