Reference Entry

Lee Tung Foo

Krystyn R. Moon

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print November 2013 |
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI:

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[Frank Lee; Lee Tung Fook; Lee Sing]

(b Watsonville, CA, 1875; d Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 1966). American singer, vaudevillian, and film actor. Lee was a Chinese American music pioneer who helped to open the vaudeville stage to other Asian American performers. He began to study voice and music theory in 1897, relatively late in life, with Margaret Blake Alverson, a prominent music teacher in the Bay Area. After eight years of studying and performing in local churches, he received his first vaudeville contract to sing at the Empire Theater in Oakland, California in January 1905. For the next 14 years, he toured the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Belgium. Based on theater reviews and correspondence with his music teacher, it is clear that Lee’s act consisted of light operatic and popular songs as well as ethnic send-ups, which included Irish, Scottish, and Chinese caricatures. Of particular significance were his Chinese numbers, in which he made fun of stereotypes of Chinese immigrants and wore elaborate costumes. His Scottish routines, which were based on Harry Lauder’s Highlander caricature, were also popular. With the decline of vaudeville, Lee moved in the late 1920s or early 1930s to Hollywood where he performed minor and walk-on roles in at least 39 films....

Reference Entry.  242 words. 

Subjects: Romantic Music

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