Sessue Hayakawa was one of the earliest silent film stars, known especially for his Academy Award-nominated role as Colonel Saito in Bridge on the River Kwai.

His “broodingly handsome”[2] good looks and typecasting as a sinister villain with sexual dominance made him a heartthrob among American women, and the first male sex symbol of Hollywood, several years in advance of Rudolph Valentino.[3][4] During those early years, Hayakawa was as well known and as popular as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, although today his name is largely unknown to the public.[5][6] His popularity, sex appeal, and extravagant lifestyle (e.g., his wild parties and his gold-plated Pierce-Arrow) may have fed tension within segments of American society and led to discriminatory stereotypes and the desexualization of Asian men in American productions, something that continues to today in Modern Hollywood[.]