Philip Ahn

1905 - 1978

Korean-American character actor Philip Ahn played hundreds of Chinese and Japanese characters during a long career. He was born in Los Angeles in 1905 (though 1911 is the year usually given, U.S. government records confirm that Ahn was born in 1905), the son of a Korean diplomat. He attended the University of Southern California at Los Angeles. Ahn got his first film acting job in 1935 and quickly made a place for himself playing Asians of many ethnicities. Although his kindly demeanor made him perfect for sympathetic roles, he could excel in the occasional villainous "Yellow Peril"-type role. Condemned, like most Asian actors of the period, to stereotypical roles, Ahn nevertheless brought a dignity to even the most subservient of characters. In his later years he achieved his greatest fame as the wise Master Kan on the television series Kung Fu (1972). Ahn was also a successful Los Angeles restaurateur. He died in 1978. Not to be confused with his brother, actor Philson Ahn.

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