Entertainment

Broadway star Alvin Ing dies aged 89 due to Covid-19 complications

Alvin Ing has died after suffering cardiac arrest (Picture: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Broadway star Alvin Ing has died aged 89 due to complications from Covid-19.

The actor died on Saturday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, with his reps confirming that Ing died from breakthrough Covid-19 complications.

A rep said: ‘Honolulu native and American Army veteran with a gift to serve, he felt a duty to himself and his fellow citizens to be fully vaccinated.

‘Although he was fully vaccinated, Ing was first diagnosed with pneumonia in mid-July then confirmed to have Covid-19 a few days later. After two weeks of battling Covid-19, Ing passed away due to cardiac arrest.’

Vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections, but in most cases, vaccinated people who test positive will experience mild symptoms or be asymptomatic.

Breakthrough cases are rare, and the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths have occurred with unvaccinated people.

Ing was best known for playing Wang Ta and Uncle Chin in numerous productions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show Flower Drum Song, including its 2002 Broadway revival.

Lea Salonga, who starred alongside him, said: ‘His voice was glorious and filled the room with its flawless sound, but beyond that, his sound was steeped in joy. Alvin was a joyful presence to be around at every rehearsal and performance. 

‘Beyond that his voice always sounded incredible, he brought a sweetness and kindness everywhere and to everyone. There was always a gentleness to him, but also a sassy sense of humour. He was a gift to everybody that got to work with him, and I’m only extremely blessed to have had that opportunity.’

Ing was best known for his performances in Flower Drum Song (Picture: Djamilla Rosa Cochran/Getty Images)

His co-star Jodi Wong said: ‘Alvin Ing was a consummate theatre person, a pioneer and my friend. Most people would say Alvin was sweet, and he was. The Alvin I knew and loved was mischievous, with a wicked sense of humour.

‘I shall truly miss Alvin, for his theatre knowledge, for his New Year’s vegetarian Jai, for all the songs he sang and most importantly all the laughs.’

David Henry Hwang, who revised the plot of Flower Drum Song for Broadway, called Ing the ‘beloved link between generations of AAPI performers who had found employment and sometimes even stardom during a time when other opportunities were virtually non-existent.’, adding: ‘As an AAPI actor of his generation, Alvin faced terrible racist exclusion, yet survived as an artist with his joy and talent (not to mention, his high notes) intact.’

Ing was also known for starring in productions of Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures.

In addition to his stage career, Ing starred in TV series including Falcon Crest, The Doctors, Charlie’s Angels and the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, and films including The Gambler and Stir Crazy.

He even auditioned for The X Factor US in 2013 and made it through the auditions. 

Ing was also known as an advocate in the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) community, and spoke about the racism aimed at Asian American actors in the industry. 

Ing came out publicly as gay at the age of 84  at a cabaret event in 2016, and later explained: ‘Lainie Sakakura, who put my act together, she convinced me that I was old enough not to be so reticent about it. In a way, it was very satisfying, but I really would like to do it for the gay community…Because, number one, I’m old, I’m Asian, and I’m gay, so maybe it would be, I don’t know, an inspiration for other people.’


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