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During World War II, Mom Chung's was the place to be in San Francisco. Soldiers, movie stars, and politicians gathered at her home to socialize, to show their dedication to the Allied cause, and to express their affection for Dr. Margaret Chung (1889-1959). The first known American-born Chinese female physician, Chung established one of the first Western medical clinics in San Francisco's Chinatown in the 1920s. She also became a prominent celebrity and behind-the-scenes political broker during World War II. Chung gained national fame when she began "adopting" thousands of soldiers, sailors, and flyboys, including Ronald Reagan, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. A pioneer in both professional and political realms, Chung experimented in her personal life as well. She adopted masculine dress and had romantic relationships with other women, such as writer Elsa Gidlow and entertainer Sophie Tucker.
This is the first biography to explore Margaret Chung's remarkable and complex life. It brings alive the bohemian and queer social milieus of Hollywood and San Francisco as well as the wartime celebrity community Chung cultivated. Her life affords a rare glimpse into the possibilities of traversing racial, gender, and sexual boundaries of American society from the late Victorian era through the early Cold War period.
PART 1: RELIGION AND MEDICINE
1. “The Medical Lady Missionary”
2. Living Their Religion
3. Where Womanhood and Childhood Meet
PART 2: A SEARCH FOR BELONGING
4. “A Noble Profession”
5. “The Beginning of a New Era”
6. “The Ministering Angel of Chinatown”
7. A Sister Lesbian?
PART 3: ORIENTALIZED MOTHERHOOD
8. Becoming Mom Chung
9. A Model Family at War
10. Creating WAVES
11. “I’ll Wait on You Forever”
Epilogue: “There Will Never Be Another Mom Chung”
Judy Tzu-Chun Wu is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Ohio State University.
“The most socially conscious, rigorously researched celebrity biography to be published by a university press in a long while. Wu’s book transcends the university-syllabi pigeonhole because her scholarship equals the task of essaying its broader topic: the culture of celebrity.”—East Bay Express