Episode 71 – Playing the Part

This week, we’re going to to talk about the life of Yamaguchi Yoshiko, the Chinese-born actress turned politician who went from propaganda actress to one of the most moving voices for Sino-Japanese reconciliation (yes, I know I said we’d be doing Tokugawa Ieyasu — don’t worry, he’s up next week).

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

The New York Times obituary for Yamaguchi Yoshiko.

A Review of Yamaguchi Yoshiko’s autobiography, Ri Koran wo Ikite (My Life as Li Xianglan) hosted by the Japan Society of the UK. She also wrote a second autobiography, Ri Koran — Watashi no Hansei (Li Xianglan — Half My Life).

The obituary for Yamaguchi Yoshiko in the People’s Daily, the English-language newspaper of the Communist Party of China.

Media

A clip from China Nights, one of the propaganda films in which “Li Xianglan” appeared.

Yamaguchi Yoshiko singing in Japanese (the song is called “Arukimashou,” or “Let’s Walk”) after the war.

Yamaguchi Yoshiko.
Yamaguchi Yoshiko.
"Li Xianglan" during the height of her career in China.
“Li Xianglan” during the height of her career in China.
The poster for the 1940 film China Nights, in which "Li Xianglan" starred.
The poster for the 1940 film China Nights, in which “Li Xianglan” starred.
Yamaguchi Yoshiko with Zhang Ailing (better known in the US as Eileen Chang), one of the most famous writers of modern China. Zhang was forced to flee China after the rise of the Communists.
Yamaguchi Yoshiko with Zhang Ailing (better known in the US as Eileen Chang), one of the most famous writers of modern China. Zhang was forced to flee China after the rise of the Communists.
Yamaguchi with her first husband, the Japanese-American sculptor Noguchi Isamu.
Yamaguchi with her first husband, the Japanese-American sculptor Noguchi Isamu.
The American noir film House of Bamboo (1955) starred "Shirley Yamaguchi" in one of her American appearances.
The American noir film House of Bamboo (1955) starred “Shirley Yamaguchi” in one of her American appearances.
A scene from House of Bamboo. From the New York Times.
A scene from House of Bamboo. From the New York Times.
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