Sunday, July 5, 2015

7/5/1928 Charlie Chan's two fathers meet

July 5, 1928.  The first time Earl Derr Biggers visited Hawaii he was just a young man seeing the world.  By the time he returned in 1928 he was a famous author.  What happened in between was that on a visit to a public library he picked up a newspaper from Hawaii and read an article about the most famous officer on the Honolulu Police Force, a detective named Chang Apana. 

This inspired him to write The House Without A Key, starring Charlie Chan.  After decades of Asians being portrayed as sinister villains suddenly there was a Chinese detective who was smarter, braver, and more resourceful than the Caucasians around him. 

On this date Biggers got to meet and shake hands with Apana, who he acknowledged as the inspiration for Chan.  They both died in 1933.  Charlie Chan lived on for many years in movies, radio, and TV, but by the seventies changing standards made him unacceptable. 

Most of this information comes from Yunte Huang's Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendevous with American History.


  1. Another reminder. This book is on my list to read ... my husband has read it and recommends it. Yunte Huang lives in Santa Barbara and teaches at UC Santa Barbara.

  2. In the books I've read, Chan comes off as the multi-cultured, sharp fellow who laments that his kids don't appreciate their heritage. I know people like that!!