Kintaro Hayakawa (June 10, 1886 – November 23, 1973), known professionally as Sessue Hayakawa, was a Japanese actor. He was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the silent film era of the 1910s and 1920s. Hayakawa was the first actor of Asian descent to achieve stardom as a leading man in the United States and Europe. His “broodingly handsome” good looks and typecasting as a sexually dominant villain made him a heartthrob among American women during a time of racial discrimination, and he became one of the first male sex symbols of Hollywood.
After being expelled from the Japanese naval academy and surviving a suicide attempt at 18, Hayakawa attended the University of Chicago, where he studied political economics and quarterbacked the school’s football team. Upon graduating, he traveled to Los Angeles in order to board a scheduled ship back to Japan, but decided to try out acting in Little Tokyo. There, Hayakawa impressed Hollywood figures and was signed on to star in The Typhoon (1914). He made his breakthrough in The Cheat (1915), and thereafter became famous for his roles as a forbidden lover. Hayakawa was one of the highest paid stars of his time, earning $5,000 per week in 1915, and $2 million per year through his own production company from 1918 to 1921.
His life story is amazing!