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October 16, 2020

The "Chinese Bardot": 40 Glamorous Photos of Nancy Kwan in the 1960s

Born 1939 in Hong Kong, Chinese-American actress, philanthropist, and former dancer Nancy Kwan began filming the movie The World of Suzie Wong in London with co-star William Holden in 1960.

Owing to Kwan’s perceptible Eurasian appearance, the film’s make-up artists endeavored to make her look more Chinese. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper wrote that  the “scattering of freckles across her tip-tilted nose give her an Occidental flavor”.

The World of Suzie Wong was a “box-office sensation”. Critics lavished praise on Kwan for her performance. She was given the nickname “Chinese Bardot” for her unforgettable dance performance. Kwan and two other actresses, Ina Balin and Hayley Mills, were awarded the Golden Globe for the “Most Promising Newcomer–Female” in 1960.

Designed by London hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, Kwan”s bob cut in the film drew widespread media attention for the “severe geometry of her new hairstyle”. Sassoon’s signature cut of Kwan’s hair was nicknamed “the Kwan cut”, “the Kwan bob”, or was plainly known as “the Kwan”; photographs of Kwan’s new hairstyle appeared in both the American and British editions of Vogue.

Kwan’s success in her early career was not mirrored in later years, due to the cultural nature of 1960s America.

Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of young Nancy Kwan in the 1960s.


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