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Obituary: Alvin Ing Dies at 89


Ing performed in more productions of FDS in the role of Wang Ta than any other actor

Obituary: Alvin Ing Dies at 89

Legendary Asian American actor and singer, Alvin Ing passed away at the age of 89 due to COVID-19 complications on Saturday, July 31, 2021 at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. Honolulu native and American Army veteran with a gift to serve, he felt a duty to himself and his fellow citizens to be fully vaccinated. Although he was fully vaccinated, Ing was first diagnosed with pneumonia in mid-July then confirmed to have COVID-19 a few days later. After two weeks of battling COVID-19, Ing passed away due to cardiac arrest.

Ing was an advocate for the AAPI community in the entertainment industry including being an active member of the Theater for Asian American Performing Artists. He was known for his roles in Broadway musical's Pacific Overtures and Flower Drum Song. Ing also appeared in films such as The Gambler, The Final Cutdown, Stir Crazy, Troop Beverly Hills, and Smilla's Sens of Snow. No stranger to the small screen, he had recurring roles on the soap operas The Doctors and Falcon Crest, and numerous guest starring roles on Benson, How the West Was Won, Charlie's Angels, Quincy, M.E., All-American Girl, Dallas, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hawaii Five-0.

Fellow actress Lea Salonga who starred in Flower Drum Song comments "His voice was glorious and filled the room with its flawless sound, but beyond that, his sound was steeped in joy. Alvin was a joyful presence to be around at every rehearsal and performance. Beyond that his voice always sounded incredible, he brought a sweetness and kindness everywhere and to everyone. There was always a gentleness to him, but also a sassy sense of humor. He was a gift to everybody that got to work with him, and I'm only extremely blessed to have had that opportunity."

Co-star Jodi Long who also was in Flower Drum Song mentions "Alvin Ing was a consummate theater person, a pioneer and my friend. Most people would say Alvin was sweet, and he was. The Alvin I knew and loved was mischievous, with a wicked sense of humor. But I guess I must have a wicked sense of humor too because he got my humor better than anyone. Whenever we got together, whether it was a "blue" comment or not, we laughed and laughed and laughed. I shall truly miss Alvin, for his theater knowledge, for his New Year's vegetarian Jai, for all the songs he sang and most importantly all the laughs."

Flower Drum Song playwright David Henry Hwang states "He was the beloved link between generations of AAPI performers who had found employment and sometimes even stardom during a time when other opportunities were virtually non-existent. As an AAPI actor of his generation, Alvin faced terrible racist exclusion, yet survived as an artist with his joy and talent (not to mention, his high notes) intact."

Director of Flower Drum Song Robert Longbottom mentions "He was our spiritual guide throughout and I adored working with him every day of that long process."

Fellow actress Yuka Takara who starred in Flower Drum Song and Pacific Overtures comments " We traveled the world together singing, eating and laughing and he was loved everywhere we performed. We are forever two peas in a pod. He is my best friend, mentor, confidant, soulmate and now angel. I know he's dancing with his Mom and belting up there entertaining his friends and family."

BD Wong, fellow star in Pacific Overtures comments "Since forever, the reputation of Asian American actors has been defiled by a well known, but rarely spoken, sentiment: we will never be as good as our colleagues of other colors, never mind better. One day Alvin Ing sang for me, and I finally knew, for keeps, that anyone who thought this was pitifully mistaken."

Pacific Overtures playwright John Weidman also comments "So Alvin was a gifted, skilled, accomplished professional. But the aspects of Alvin which I feel most fortunate to have had access to were those things which made Alvin extraordinary not onstage, but off. His wit, his kindness, his gentleness, and most of all his extraordinary generosity of spirit."

Pacific Overtures director Amon Miyamoto states "Alvin gave us too much love, which is maternal, paternal, and human love."

Pacific Overtures composer Stephen Sondheim mentions "Alvin was a lovely fellow, a fearsome Mother, and a first-rate mahjong player."

Ing's manager at Shushu Entertainment, Anthony Leones aka. actor Evan D'Angeles mentions "Now in my new career as a talent manager, my mission has been to not just rep actors, but to advocate for amazing storytellers who are even more incredible human beings. Alvin Ing embodied that mission for me and it has been an honor that he entrusted me with the privilege of managing him at the sunset of his career. His humility and professionalism will continue to inspire me."

Ted Chapin, previous President of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization comments "When I saw a rehearsal of the David Henry Hwang Flower Drum Song I realized there was song cut in 1958 that would fit the new character that was written for Alvin in a scene that seemed to call out for a song. I passed it on to David and the director, and everyone agreed. Alvin was forever grateful and way too gracious to me."

Two celebrations for the beloved Asian American trailblazer are being produced by his Flower Drum Song revival cast members, Yuka Takara and Lainie Sakakura. An online memorial titled "Old Friends" will take place on Sunday, August 15, 2021 for close friends and family. A live memorial concert titled "A Celebration of Alvin Ing's Life and Legacy" will take place in New York and will also be streamed online. The link will be provided to the public closer to the date of the event.

In lieu of flowers, Abingdon Theatre Company is accepting donations for Alvin Ing's New York Memorial Celebration and the newly created Alvin Ing Scholarship Fund. Click here to donate.

Photo: Lia Chang

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