Born and educated in Los Angeles, Anna May Wong began playing small parts in her preteen years. Her first role of consequence was as a slave girl in Douglas Fairbanks' lavish The Thief of Baghdad (1924); shortly afterward, she played Tiger Lily in the first film version of Peter Pan (1924). While she had several large roles in subsequent Hollywood films, it wasn't until Wong went to Europe in 1929 that she was taken seriously as an actress. Once back in Hollywood, however, it was back to exotic oriental stereotypes, with little opportunity for romantic roles, as there were still many taboos against racial intermingling in films of the 1930s. Her best film assignments included Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (1932), the Sherlock Holmes opus A Study in Scarlet (1933), and a string of Paramount second features in the late-'30s, notably Dangerous to Know (1937) and Daughter of Shanghai (1937). Wong retired from films in 1942, thereafter making occasional stage appearances in the Los Angeles area. Anna May Wong died of heart failure at the age of 56, just before she was to begin work on the screen version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway hit Flower Drum Song.