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Wood Moy, who starred as the cab driver in the acclaimed Wayne Wang noir film Chan Is Missing (1982), died Nov. 8, his family announced. He was 99.
In the movie, Moy portrayed Jo, who is out to buy a taxi license with his nephew, Steve (Marc Hayashi). When Steve’s friend Chan disappears with the cash they need to purchase their license, he and his uncle become amateur detectives as they set about San Francisco’s Chinatown trying to locate the missing man and their money.
The low-budget, black-and-white Chan Is Missing, believed to be the first Asian-American indie film, was named for inclusion into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1995 for its cultural, historical or aesthetic significance.
Roger Ebert called it “a small, whimsical treasure of a film. … The title Chan Is Missing is almost a pun, because Charlie Chan is missing, and what replaces him is a warm, low-key, affectionate and funny look at some real Chinese-Americans.”
A longtime member of the Asian American Theatre Company in San Francisco, Moy also appeared in such features as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Howard the Duck (1986), Class Action (1991) and Final Analysis (1992) and on the TV show Knight Rider.
Moy was born in Canton City, China, and first came to the U.S. in 1921. He earned his bachelor’s degree from New York University in 1941 and during World War II served in the U.S. Army’s 987th Signal Company, one of two all-Chinese-American outfits.
In 1947, Moy came to San Francisco with his future wife and future brother-in-law to expand their magazine East Wind, which chronicled the Chinese-American experience. They later opened East Wind Printers in Chinatown.
His wife of 60 years, Mamie, died in 2007. Survivors include his children Lincoln, Kenneth and Cynthia and his grandchildren Brian, Matthew, Jacqueline, Travis and Quentin.
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