Throughout the 1930s Charlie Chan, a Honolulu-based Chinese-American detective (ironically played in the 1930s by Swedish actor Warner Oland) was popular with movie audiences.

Unlike evil characters such as  Dr. Fu Manchu (reflecting Western fears of a “Yellow peril”), Chan was an honorable, intelligent and benign character. On the other hand, many came to view him as an unfortunate stereotype of the subservient Asian who speaks English rather poorly.

This film clip from 1936  aptly demonstrates racial attitudes at the time  toward African-Americans as well as Asians.