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Keye Luke of ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘Charlie Chan’ Fame Dies

January 15, 1991

WHITTIER, Calif. (AP) _ Keye Luke, Charlie Chan’s No. 1 son in the movies and the gentle Zen master in the TV series ″Kung Fu″ who dispensed wisdom to a student he addressed as ″Grasshopper,″ has died at age 86.

The Chinese-born actor died Saturday at the Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital after suffering a stroke. His final role was that of Mia Farrow’s acupuncturist in the Woody Allen film ″Alice,″ released last month.

Luke appeared in more than 150 films, playing detective Charlie Chan’s oldest son in 13. Other credits included ″The Good Earth,″ ″Love is a Many Splendored Thing″ and, more recently, ″Just You and Me, Kid″ and ″Gremlins.″

TV audiences knew him as Master Po, the blind monk in ″Kung Fu,″ which ran from 1972 to 1975. Po guided a fugitive monk and martial-arts expert played by David Carradine. Luke said in a 1986 interview it was his favorite role.

″He was the example of the Buddhist Zen sect, which I think is the best development in that physical thought of China,″ he said. ″And given those sayings out of old ancient Chinese philosophy from Confucius, from Mencius, and actually saying them in English for a world audience ... where do you get an opportunity like that?″

″I’m going to miss the hell out of him,″ Carradine said. He added, ″When we’d go into makeup in the morning every time he’d say, ’Well, Grasshopper.‴

Luke was born in Canton, China, and was raised in Seattle, Wash. He settled in Hollywood in 1930 and became one of the industry’s most successful Asian- American actors.

He made his feature debut opposite Greta Garbo in the 1934 film ″The Painted Veil.″ ″I actually got to shake Garbo’s hand in one scene and was on cloud nine for weeks after,″ Luke once recalled.

Survivors include a daughter.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


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