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Getting the Role of Gwennie in The World of Suzie Wong

Well during that time that I was married, I did a show on Broadway called The World of Susie Wong, and I played – originated the role of Gwennie: sweet girl, not much sex appeal. But my mother-in-law was appalled – first of all, I’d been to audition originally for Flower Drum Song, and it’s so silly, you know, you don’t get all dressed up to go to audition for these things, but she let – she wanted me to wear her fur jacket. I looked like I was some wealthy girl going in to audition, and they wanted me to be the understudy for Yoshio Miyaki and Pat Suzuki, but then I heard about this other audition playing the prostitute. And then I had a regular part, where I would get to originate the role. So I turned down the “Flower Drum Song” to originate the role of Gwennie, so that was the beginning of it.

Date: November 8, 2018

Location: California, US

Interviewer: June Berk

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Takayo Fischer, born in November 1932, is a Nisei American stage, film, and TV actress. During World War II, as a young child, she and her family were forcibly evacuated from the West Coast and spent time in the Fresno Assembly Center before being relocated to Jerome and Rohwer concentration camps. Fischer later lived in Chicago, Illinois, where, as a young adult, she won the crown of “Miss Nisei Queen.” She has appeared in dozens of major Hollywood films, including Moneyball (2011), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). She also appeared in the stage production of The World of Suzie Wong in New York in 1958 and many productions with East West Players in Los Angeles. (June 2018)