Who was Sammee Tong?
Sammee Tong was an American actor and comedian, who was best known for his role as Peter Tong, the witty and loyal houseboy of John Forsythe’s character in the sitcom Bachelor Father. He was born in San Francisco in 1901, and graduated from Stanford University. He started his career as a tap dancer and a nightclub performer, and later moved to Hollywood, where he appeared in several films and TV shows. He was one of the few Asian American actors who had a prominent role in a mainstream TV series in the 1950s and 1960s. He was described by his co-stars and friends as a funny, generous, and professional person, who enjoyed making people laugh.
How did Sammee Tong die?
Sammee Tong died of an apparent suicide by barbiturate overdose in his apartment in Los Angeles on October 27, 1964. He was 63 years old. He was found by his friend, who had gone to check on him after he failed to show up for work. Police found an empty bottle of sleeping pills by his body and several notes addressed to his landlady, his attorney, and police. According to one of the notes, he wrote, “I have taken my own life. No one is to blame.”
The exact motive for his suicide is unknown, but some sources suggest that he was depressed and in debt. According to Mickey Rooney, who starred with Tong in the sitcom Mickey, Tong was a compulsive gambler and owed money to the Mafia. He said that Tong had received death threats from his creditors, and that he was afraid for his life. He also said that Tong had confided in him that he was unhappy with his career and felt typecast as a stereotypical Asian servant
What are the reactions to Sammee Tong’s death?
Sammee Tong’s death was a shock and a sorrow to many people who knew and admired him. His family, friends, and colleagues expressed their condolences and tributes to him. His fans and viewers also mourned his loss and remembered his talent and humor. His funeral service was held on November 2, 1964, at the Little Church of the Flowers in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
Why is Sammee Tong’s death important?
Sammee Tong’s death is important because it reveals the dark side of the entertainment industry and the challenges faced by minority actors. His death also raises awareness about the issues of mental health, addiction, and suicide, and the need for more support and prevention. His death also reminds us of the legacy and influence of a pioneering and versatile actor, who had broken barriers and stereotypes with his performance and personality.
Sammee Tong was a talented and charismatic actor and comedian, who had a successful career as a tap dancer, a nightclub performer, and a TV star. He died of suicide by overdose in his apartment in Los Angeles in 1964, leaving behind a mystery and a tragedy. His death was a tragic loss for the entertainment industry and the society, but his legacy lives on in his films and shows. Sammee Tong’s cause of death was suicide, but his cause of life was comedy.
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