Victor Wong died! Not today, not this weekend, not last week, but back in September. September 12th. And nobody told me. He died of a stroke (his second) after spending all of September 11th watching the news and trying to reach his sons in New York.
Wong appeared in numerous b-movies through the 80s and 90s (most notably to me, Big Trouble in Little China, Prince of Darkness, and The Golden Child), usually (in the movies I saw, at least) as a gruff and wizened yet mischievous old man — rarely as anything besides an embodiment of the Wise Oriental Mystic. I liked him anyway. Until I saw Big Trouble in Little China again this weekend, I had last seen him in a PBS documentary about Asian Americans called My America, where my esteem for him grew as I learned about his remarkable life as a Christian, a Zen Buddhist, a beatnik friend of Kerouac and Ferlinghetti, a pupil of Martin Buber, a pupil of Mark Rothko, a civil rights activist, the first Asian American television journalist, and so on — his life was often described as Zelig-like; that is to say, he had been everywhere, known everybody, and done everything.
And that was an epistrophe! Sorry for the late news. By the way, happy new year!