Ming Chu was born in Florida in 1914 and moved to New York City to stay with an uncle who ran a laundry and soon get swept up in the world of show business. At age fifteen, she moved downtown to live in a house sponsored by the Rockefellers for young women looking to catch a break and started modeling and dancing at clubs to pay the bills. She caught her lucky break when she was scouted by a Parisian director and contracted to perform in London. Her career skyrocketed in Europe after her run as “Miss China-America” in the Miss Universe pageant, and she soon became a headlining solo act under the name “Princess Ming Chu, Flower of the Orient.” She performed across the continent, graced the cover of newspapers, and met the likes of the King and Queen of Belgium, Prince Wilhelm of Germany, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Orson Welles, and Jackie Gleason.
When World War II broke out, Ming Chu reluctantly returned to New York. She continued performing at the Roxy Theatre in NYC and subsequently in Las Vegas then again in Europe to entertain the troops. She would also act in several movies and released two rock and roll songs. Ming Chu’s career echoes that of her predecessor Anna Mae Wong more than her “chop suey circuit” contemporaries for the worldwide fame she was able to find in Europe, outside of the US’ more racially-charged confines.