The First Myanmar/Burmese Actress to Star in Hollywood Film, 1955

The First Myanmar/Burmese Actress to Star in Hollywood Film, 1955

559324_297981866967467_794889861_nDaw Win Min Than, the first Myanmar actress to star in Hollywood film, grew up in Rangoon when Burma was part of the British Raj. She was the daughter of a government official. When the Japanese occupied Burma during World War II, the family fled to India. Until she was 14 years old, she attended a convent school, where she learned English.

In 1951, the family sent her to London, where she Marie Rambert’s dance school, but she quickly realized she was no dancer and soon returned to Burma, where she married the famous politician Bo Setkya (Thakin Aung Than), who was almost 20 years her senior.

In 1954, a friend of American director Robert Parrish visited her home and took a photograph of her, which he sent to Parrish. Parrish was at the time planning the filming of H.E. Bates’ novel “The Purple Plain” and needed an Asian actress for the lead role. Seeing her picture, he realized she would be perfect and flew to Burma to convince her to accept the role, although she had no previous acting experience. After the UK premiere in September 1954, she was convinced to come to the US in the spring of 1955 to help promote the film. While there, she received several offers of film roles, but declined them all, stating that a film career would conflict with her role as wife; and after a few weeks she returned to Burma and her husband and never acted again. The military coup in 1962 forced the couple to flee to Bangkok, Thailand, where her husband died in 1969.


The Purple Plain movie, Win Min Than and Gregory Peck

Information provided by: Nyein Chan from Myanmar



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