CNN profiles 91-year-old James Hong, whose imdb filmography counts 439 roles, making him a top candidate as the most prolific actor in Hollywood. Hong says the true count is even higher: he's to be seen in at least 600 movies stretching back nearly 70 years.
Realizing that Hollywood wouldn't be able to provide the roles Asian Americans deserved, Hong set out to carve his own space. Along with actor Mako Iwamatsu, Hong helped organize an Asian American acting group in Los Angeles. Their first production was "Rashomon," a stage play based on two short stories written by Japanese author Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and adapted into film by Akira Kurosawa.
"That started the industry noticing who we were," Hong said. "We weren't just extras, or gimmick people. We were in a play that we organized. We were the main, lead people. We were the actors. And we commanded attention."
That acting group turned into the legendary theater group, East West Players.
"East West Players were formulated to showcase works by Asians, who wrote the play, who designed the stage, who act in the play," Hong said. "It was all done by Asian people, professional people."