Howe, James Wong, 1899-1976

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From the description of Reminiscences of James Wong Howe : oral history, 1971. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122481335


James Wong Howe was born Wong Tung Jim on August 28, 1899 in Kwantung (Canton), China. He moved to the United States at age 5. After pursuing a career as a professional boxer in the Northwest, Howe moved to Los Angeles and became a delivery boy for a commercial photographer. In 1917 Howe entered the Hollywood film industry and soon became an assistant cameraman, working with such notable directors as Cecil B. DeMille. In 1922 he became a director of photography and quickly established a reputation as an inventive and meticulous craftsman. Initially known as James Howe, his Chinese name was added by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in hopes that a more exotic-sounding name appearing on film credits would enhance publicity for both Howe and the studio. In industry circles, Howe acquired the nickname of Low Key Hoe for his distinctive application of low-key photography. Howe also pioneered the use of deep focus and the hand-held camera. Howe won Academy Awards for his cinematography for The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Hud (1963). Throughout his career Howe was also active as a still photographer. James Wong Howe died in 1976.

Other notable films featuring the cinematography of Howe include Peter Pan (1924), The Thin Man (1934), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), They Made Me a Criminal (1939), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Body and Soul (1947), He Ran All the Way (1951), Come Back Little Sheba (1953), Picnic (1956), The Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Old Man and the Sea (1958), and Funny Lady (1975).

From the guide to the Photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown, Taken by James Wong Howe, 1944, (The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.)

Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Wong Tung Jim National Archives at Seattle
Relation Name
honoredBy Association of Asian Pacific American Artists corporateBody
spouseOf Babb, Sanora, 1907-2005 person
associatedWith California Heritage Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Chin, Frank, 1940- person
associatedWith Combined Asian American Resources Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Cundey, Dean, 1945-... person
associatedWith DeMille, Cecil B. (Cecil Blount), 1881-1959 person
associatedWith Fuller, Samuel, 1912-1997 person
associatedWith Hawks, Howard, 1896-1977 person
associatedWith Higham, Charles, person
associatedWith Howard, William K., 1899-1954 person
associatedWith Mackendrick, Alexander, 1912-1993 person
associatedWith Mann, Daniel, 1912-1991 person
associatedWith Marshall, Charles A. person
employeeOf Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. corporateBody
associatedWith Online Archive of California Project. corporateBody
correspondedWith Traven, B. person
employeeOf University of California, Los Angeles corporateBody
employeeOf University of California, Los Angeles. School of Theater, Film, and Television corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Hollywood CA US
Guangzhou 30 CN
Motion picture producers and directors
Motion picture industry
Motion picture producers and directors


Birth 1899-08-28

Death 1976-07-12





Ark ID: w69p3bxw

SNAC ID: 5477772