Irene Tsu

Irene Tsu(born November 4, 1944) is a Chinese American actress who started in the film adaptationFlower Drum Songin 1961 and has had many subsequent roles in TV and films. She was featured playing the wiki wiki girl in theWiki wiki dollaradvertising campaign for Chevron Corporation in the 1960s.She speaks English and three different varieties of Chinese .

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 Irene Tsu's Early life and career

Her father was a banker and her mother a painter. After political changes in China in the 1940s, the family left for Taiwan , then Hong Kong . Her father remained behind in Taiwan while in 1957 she and the rest of her immediate family (sister and mother) emigrated to Larchmont, New York , a suburb of New York City, where her aunt lived. Irene attended Mamaroneck Elementary School in Mamaroneck, New York and studied ballet.

The choreographer Hermes Pan brought Irene to Hollywood and she was a teenage dancer in the film Flower Drum Song (1961), directed by Henry Koster .He gave her her first speaking role as a teenage prostitute in his next film,Take Her, She's Mine(1963) starring James Stewart and Sandra Dee , which started her acting career.

UCLA Film School , and California State University, Los Angeles .

In 1961, Tsu entered the Miss Chinatown USA beauty pageant on behalf of New York and won first place.

was aired on CBS , as she played the role of defendant Juli Eng in "The Case of the Floating Stones." She made guest appearances on most of the other popular '60s-70s television shows such asI Spy,The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,Mission: Impossible, andThe Wild Wild West. She was tested for, but didn't get the female lead ofThe Sand Pebbles.

In the 1960s, Tsu met Frank Sinatra in Miami , Florida where she was filming the "Chevron Island" commercials and Sinatra was filming " Tony Rome ". They dated for over two years.

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 Irene Tsu's Later career

From 1978 until 1989, Tsu was Chief Operating Officer and head designer for her own leisure apparel company, The IT Company/Irene Tsu Designs.

She teaches weekly yoga classes at the Bikram HQ in Los Angeles and for the Beverly Hills Department of Parks.

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 Irene Tsu's Selected filmography


  • Flower Drum Song (1961)
  • Take Her, She's Mine(1963)
  • How to Stuff a Wild Bikini(1965)
  • Paradise, Hawaiian Style(1966)
  • Women of the Prehistoric Planet(1966)
  • Seven Women (1966)
  • Caprice (1967)
  • The Green Berets(1968)
  • The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go(1970)
  • Airport 1975(1974)
  • Three the Hard Way (1974)
  • Paper Tiger(1975)
  • Hot Potato(1976)
  • Down and Out in Beverly Hills(1986)
  • Steele Justice (1987)
  • Unbecoming Age(1992)
  • Mr. Jones(1993)
  • Snapdragon(1993)
  • Comrades: Almost a Love Story(1997)
  • Golden Chicken(2002)
  • The Heart Specialist(2006)


  • Perry MasonTV series, episode: The Case of the Floating Stones (21 November 1963) as Juli Eng
  • My Favorite MartianTV series, Season 2 Episode 9 - Double Trouble (1964) as Leilani
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.TV series, episode: The Hong Kong Shilling Affair (15 March 1965) as Jasmine
  • I SpyTV series, episode: A Cup of Kindness (22 September 1965)
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaTV series, episode: The Peacemaker (November 21, 1965) as Su Yin
  • My Three Sons, TV series, episode: Robbie and the Slave Girl (20 January 1966) as Terry
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.TV series, episode: The Five Daughters Affair: Part II (7 April 1967) - Reikko
  • The Wild Wild WestTV series, episode: The Night of the Samurai (13 October 1967) - Reiko O'Hara
  • Mission: ImpossibleTV series, episode: Double Dead (12 February 1972) as Penyo
  • Hawaii Five-OTV series, episode: Engaged to Be Buried (27 February 1973) as Alia
  • Future CopTV series (1977) as Doctor Tingley
  • The Rockford Files, TV series, episode: Irving the Explainer (18 November 1977) as Daphne Ishawaharda
  • Trapper John, M.D., TV series, episode: Heart and Seoul (28 January 1986) as Dr. Julie Lok
  • Noble House(1988) all four episodes
  • Tell Me No Secrets, (1997) TV movie
  • Star Trek: Voyager, TV series, episode: Author, Author (April 18, 2001) as Mary Kim
  • Cold Case, TV series, episode: Chinatown (22 November 2009) as Da Chun Lu
  • Law & Order: LATV series, episode: Angel's Knoll (25 May 2011) as Christina Yu

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 Irene Tsu's References

  1. Cf. Lisanti & Paul (2002), p.293
  2. Although some sources quote (1943-04-05) April 5, 1943 (age 73) as her birthdate.
  3. "Actress Irene Tsu, an LACC Alum, Talks to LACC Cinema Students About her Film Career", Los Angeles City College News, December 1, 2006
  4. Cf. Lisanti & Paul (2002), p.295
  5. "Attorney Profile: Florence S. Philips", Luscutoff, Lendormy & Associates law firm
  6. Cf. Lisanti (2001), p.158
  7. "Profile: Irene Tsu", Glamor Girls of the Silver Screen, website
  8. Irene Tsu at the Internet Movie Database
  9. Realtor: Irene Tsu - webpage
  10. Lisanti, Tom, "How Actress Irene Tsu Lost the Female Lead in The Sandpebbles",
  11. Beck, Marilyn, "Hollywood Hotline: Frank Sinatra Works on TV Special and Off-Beat Movie", Friday, September 26, 1969
  12. Irene Tsu: Salesperson License #00975925 issued 12/21/87, State of California, Department of Real Estate
  13. Bikram Yoga - Encinitas, California
  14. Cf. Lisanti (2001), p.167

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 Irene Tsu's Further reading

  • "My life: Irene Tsu" , Post magazine, South China Morning Post , interview with Kate Whitehead, January 26, 2014

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