James Wong Howe Google doodle honors influential cinematographer behind more than 100 US films

Today’s doodle pays homage to the influential cinematographer James Wong Howe, whose career spanned from the 1920s through 1974.

Howe immigrated to the US from Guangzhou, China, at the age of five. According to Google, he boxed professionally throughout his teenage years, worked odd jobs, and then began working in Hollywood delivering films for the studios.

During the more than five decades he spent doing cinematography, Howe filmed over 130 films. He was the cinematographer for the classic film, “The Thin Man,” released on this date in 1934. Howe took home the Oscar for cinematography in 1955 for “The Rose Tattoo” and again in 1963 for “Hud.” He was also named one of the 10 most influential cinematographers by the International Cinematographers Guild.

His last film, in 1974, “Funny Lady,” earned him his 10th Oscar nomination.

The doodle leads to a search for “James Wong Howe” and includes imagery that highlights Howe’s use of lighting and framing within a scene. Google says it originally planned to post the doodle in the US last year but held off after Hurricane Harvey struck.

From the Google Doodle Blog:

Though we don’t usually run Doodles more than once, Howe left such a unique and indelible mark on American cinema that we decided to run the Doodle this year on the anniversary of the release of one of his most notable works, The Thin Man (1934) — and also just in time for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month!

Google says even though Howe was widely recognized and honored for his work, he still faced significant racial discrimination during his life as a Chinese-American: “He became a US citizen only after the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act; due to anti-miscegenation laws, his marriage was not legally recognized in the US until 1948.”


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