Madame Wu, restaurateur to Hollywood’s elite, dies at 106

Oct 2, 2022, 2:09 PM | Updated: 2:46 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sylvia Wu, whose famed Southern California restaurant drew Hollywood’s biggest stars for four decades, has died at age 106, according to a news report.

Madame Wu’s Garden on Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica became a dining destination shortly after it opened in 1959, popular for its cuisine and pagoda-style decor featuring jade statues, a stone waterfall and a koi-filled fountain.

Madame Wu herself was known for wearing a floor-length silk gown while alternately greeting Tinseltown’s elite and picking up the phone to take to-go orders.

She died Sept. 19, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Madame Wu said she was inspired to open the restaurant after arriving from China and finding only heavy faux-Cantonese dishes.

“Chop suey everywhere,” she complained to USA Today. “All you see are chop suey houses.”

At Madame Wu’s Garden, Mae West favored the cold melon soup, Gregory Peck and Paul Newman enjoyed the shrimp toast and crab puffs, while Princess Grace of Monaco preferred the Peking roast duck, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Everybody in this town knows Madame Wu,” the late television host Merv Griffin once told the newspaper. “One of the dearest, sweetest, most elegant women I’ve ever known.”

After she closed the restaurant in 1998, she immediately regretted the decision and opened Madame Wu’s Asian Bistro & Sushi. That restaurant didn’t last, but affection for Madame Wu persisted. When she turned 100 in 2014, her old customers filled up a hotel ballroom for her birthday party.

Born Sylvia Cheng on Oct. 24, 1915, she grew up in Jiujiang, a city southwest of Shanghai where she learned to cook while watching the maid prepare meals for her well-to-do family.

The family moved to Shanghai and then Hong Kong. During World War II, she took an ocean liner to New York City.

“I don’t know how I had the courage,” she later recalled. “I had no family in America. The trip took 40 days, and because of the war there was a blackout all the way.”

While pursuing an education degree at Columbia University, she met King Yan Wu, a successful chemist. They married, had three children and moved to LA, where he took an engineering job at Hughes Aircraft Co. and she became a restaurateur.

She also wrote cookbooks, appeared regularly on television and became active with charity work, particularly at City of Hope cancer center after her daughter, Loretta, died of breast cancer at 34.

Wu is survived by sons George and Patrick and numerous grandchildren, according to the Los Angeles Times. Her husband died in 2011. The two had been married 67 years.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

TV anchors T.J. Holmes, Amy Robach leave ABC amid romance

NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, anchors at the afternoon extension of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” are leaving the network after their romance was reported in November. The pair were taken off the air and placed on temporary hiatus after photos surfaced of them holding hands and spending time together. Both were […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced on Saturday. Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release. Carney, 66, said he’s “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control […]
13 hours ago
FILE - FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court on Jan. 3, 2023, in New York, a...
Associated Press

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, DOJ tussle over his communications

Federal prosecutors are trying to prohibit FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried from privately contacting current and former employees of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange to prevent potential witness tampering in a criminal case accusing him of bilking investors and customers. The request, made in a letter filed late Friday by U.S. Justice Department lawyers, prompted an indignant […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
13 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks during a conference in Tripoli, Libya, Saturday, Jan. ...
Associated Press

Italy, Libya sign $8B gas deal as PM Meloni visits Tripoli

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister held talks in Libya on Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. During the visit, the two countries’ oil companies signed a gas deal worth $8 billion — the largest single investment in Libya’s energy […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Madame Wu, restaurateur to Hollywood’s elite, dies at 106