Friday, July 27, 2018

Former Child Actor Dan Chang is Still Stealing Scenes at Wesley Palms


‘The talk of Hollywood’ appeared with Reagan, Gable, Wayne and Bogart in 1950s Hollywood Films

In the early 1950s, a Hollywood trade publication called Wesley Palms resident Dan Chang, a “four-year-old scene stealer” while another called him “the talk of Hollywood.”

“I guess a lot of people thought I was cute back then,” Dan says with a laugh. “The studio gave me some good publicity, that’s for sure.”
Between the ages of four and 11, Dan appeared in a little over a dozen movies and TV shows. His first role was that of a young Chinese refugee in the 1952 movie Hong Kong, a comedy-adventure-drama about a stolen golden idol, staring Ronald Reagan and Rhonda Fleming.

“There was a casting call for the movie and my father took me to the studio,” Dan said. “I got the part. I was only four years old and just remember following directions. I got to drive a car in the studio parking lot and remember learning to use chop sticks for one scene. I remember learning a lot of odd things on movie sets. In one film I was taught how to peel potatoes.”

He appeared with the likes of Clark Gable, Roy Rogers, Rhonda Fleming, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and June Allison, just to name a few of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time.
“Many of my roles were small so I didn’t really get to know the actors except for Ronald Reagan,” Dan remembers. “Reagan was really nice both on and off the set. He treated me well. We took a lot of publicity shots for Hong Kong. The studio really played up our relationship. I also remember getting to sit on Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger.”

Although his acting career had been successful for almost a decade, just before his teen years his father asked Dan an important question.
“When I was about 11, my dad asked me if I wanted to continue acting or just go to school,” Dan said. “I’m not sure why he asked me but I said I just want to go to school. While making movies there is a lot of sitting around waiting and I would have rather been playing with my friends. I don’t regret quitting. It was fun while it lasted.”

Although he no longer acts, Dan jokes that his life and Ronald Reagan’s life will always be connected. “I was an engineering professor at UC Davis, a California public university, when Ronald Reagan was governor and I was in the Air Force when he was president and commander and chief, so technically he was my boss a few times since working with him on Hong Kong,” Dan said with a big grin.

Wesley Palms recently screened Hong Kong for residents. “Cute was the word everyone used when they saw me,” Dan said. “I got some good-natured ribbing.”

When Dan is not reminiscing about his acting career, he enjoys exercising and using the cycling equipment at the Wesley Palms fitness center. He and his wife enjoy their beautiful new patio home overlooking the Pacific.

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