LOIS WHEELER SNOW
Born in California, Lois is a founding member of the famous Actors Studio in New York and appeared in many Broadway, film and television productions.
She married the American author Edgar Snow in 1949. Lois and Edgar Snow worked all their lives to bring about a better world. They spoke out against famine and political corruption, capital punishment, racial discrimination, the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
She travelled to China for the first time in 1970 with her husband and stayed for five months, travelling widely and watching plays in theatres, factories, communes and schools. She has written several books on acting and China: China On Stage: An American Actress in the People’s Republic, A Death With Dignity: When the Chinese Came, Edgar Snow’s China.
Lois has maintained a very privileged relationship with China. After the death of her husband in 1972, she inherited the responsibility of dealing with China – speaking to the international press, meeting with Chinese dignitaries, writing articles. Lois’ training on the theatre stage served her well later on the world stage meeting with Chairman Mao and Premier Chou, television cameras rolling. Thirty years later, she spoke with poise and presence as she stepped off the airplane onto the tarmac of Beijing’s airport to the waiting journalists from the Guardian, the New York Times and Le Monde to denounce human rights abuses in China.
Edgar Snow has been called the premier foreign correspondent of the twentieth century. He introduced the Chinese Communists to the world in the 1930s. He was the first journalist to interview Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai and the other leaders who were to change the face of their country. He brought to the outside world the first movie footage even taken of them in the Red areas. He returned to China several times in the 1960s and 1970s and wrote eleven books on China including the historic, Red Star Over China.
Edgar Snow, was born in the United States, but as a man in his early twenties he dreamed of far off lands and became a stowaway on a boat to China. Ed was a firsthand witness to the chaos of China in the thirties — widespread famine and corruption, disease, illiteracy and poverty, civil war and revolution.
His family believes that Edgar Snow, like many others of his generation, was misled by the Chinese authorities. He died in 1972, too soon to grasp the full extent of the repression that was carried out in China after 1949.
CHAIRMAN MAO TSE-TUNG AND PRIME MINISTER CHOU EN-LAI
Edgar Snow, Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai were just starting off in their fields when they first met – Snow in journalism, Mao and Chou in revolution. They helped each other’s career. Snow filmed them in 1936 — the first time they were ever filmed — in the remote areas of the northwest of China when they were considered bandits by the government. It was thanks to Edgar Snow that Mao and Chou had their first opportunity to address the world.
Communism was such a dirty word. The United States was intent on getting rid of any kind of support for Communism. One of the major hate mongers in terms of China in the United States government was Richard Nixon. Like Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon built his career on hunting down so-called Communists.
It was October 1st, the National Holiday in China. In Peking Tien An-men was where Mao addressed the assembled crowd below, millions of people down below, from way up high on this balcony across Tian An men. Edgar and Lois were invited to stand next to Mao. It turned out that it was the Chinese way of showing the United States and the world that Nixon would be welcomed to China.
Edgar Snow died one week before Nixon went to China. It was quite ironic that he wouldn’t able to see the result of the years of his trying to bring friendship between the United States and China.