"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sessue Hayakawa

in The Honor of His House

This 1918 poster by James William Farrah for the movie The Honor of His House, featuring Sessue Hayakawa, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Sessue Hayakawa, whose restrained acting style was inspired by Zen Buddhism, Kabuki Theater, and martial arts, captivated international audiences as one of Hollywood's first male sex symbols. During a performance in San Francisco's Little Tokyo, in the 1910s, Hayakawa caught the eye of producer Jesse L. Lasky (1880-1958)1 who paved the way for his success as a silent film star.

This poster advertises Hayakawa's portrayal of a sensitive villain in Cecil B. DeMille's The Honor of His House (1918). Regularly cast as an exotic lover or as a self-effacing outsider, Hayakawa grew frustrated with the racial stereotyping of Asian actors and launched his own movie studio to reshape public bias. In the 1930s, Hayakawa's popularity declined with the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. and the advent of sound pictures. He completed stints in Europe and Japan and remained abroad through World War II. Upon his ·return to Hollywood, Hayakawa made a comeback. He garnered widespread acclaim for his role as Colonel Saito in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. -- National Portrait Gallery

The Poisoned Locket

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