Besides the beautiful KUKAN lobby card, blogger Durian Dave also sent this evocative photo of Li Ling-Ai.
She is caught debarking a United Airlines plane in Los Angeles, arriving from New York where she had moved in 1939 or 1940. She was in town for the Los Angeles premiere of KUKAN at the Esquire Theater on Fairfax.
Sadly, the Esquire Theater was purchased In 1953 Canter’s Deli purchased the theater. The wonderful marquee is missing, but supposedly you can still see remnants of the old theater in the interior while eating your sandwhich (an activity I have yet to do). The caption on the back of the photo quotes Li Ling-Ai as saying “No matter how long nor how hard the struggle, China will win its undeclared war with Japan. It is gravely concerned at the threat to the Burma Road contained in Japanese occupation of Indo-China, but nonetheless confident.”
It is great proof of the part that Li Ling-Ai played in helping to publicize the film KUKAN and keep the general public aware of what was going on in China at the time.
Ling-Ai’s early affinity for airplane travel and her desire to learn to fly a plane was one of the first things that impressed me about her. Prior to finding KUKAN I hadn’t heard of any Chinese women taking to the skies ala Amelia Earhardt. While researching the era, however, I’ve discovered that there were several Chinese women who were noted pilots in the 30’s — Lee Ya Ching, Maggie Gee and Hazel Ying Lee to name a few.
Thanks to Durian Dave’s blog– I’ve discovered another Chinese American woman who by the looks of this photo was not only an early flyer but an early movie director as well.
Olive Young is better known as an actress who left her birthplace of Missouri to become a film star in China. Unfortunately she seems to have had a tragic end and little is known about her fimmaking career.
Still I can’t help but be inspired by the photographs of these early Chinese groundbreaking women. And I wonder what was in the air at the time that caused them to jump in cockpits and take up cameras and attempt countless other daring feats that had never been attempted by women before? Thanks to the blogosphere for making it easier to explore that time period and find other time-traveling souls.