Documentary | DVD | Closed Captioning
Director/Writer/Producer: Jeff Adachi
Ethnicities: Chinese, Japanese
Subjects: Art & Performance, Assimilation, Chinese, Culture Clash, Japanese, Japanese American Internment, Media, Personal Stories, Stereotypes
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK tells the fascinating story of pioneering American entertainer, Jack Soo, an Oakland native who became the first Asian American to be cast in the lead role of the television series Valentine’s Day (1963), before later starring in the popular comedy show Barney Miller (1975-1978).
Featuring rare footage and interviews from Soo’s co-stars and friends, including actors George Takei, Nancy Kwan and Max Gail, comedians Steve Landesberg and Gary Austin, and producer Hal Kanter, the film traces Jack’s early beginnings as a nightclub singer and comedian, to his breakthrough role as Sammy Fong in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway play and film version of The Flower Drum Song.
The film also explores why Soo, a former internee who was actually born Goro Suzuki, was forced to change his name in the post WWII era, in order to perform in clubs in the mid-west. Soo’s life experiences and acting resume caused him to speak out against negative ethnic portrayals and even led him to refuse roles that were demeaning to Asian Americans.