Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Haing S. Ngor

Go To

Haing Somnang Ngor (Khmer: ហាំង សំណាង ង៉ោ, March 22, 1940 February 25, 1996) was a Cambodian-American actor of Cambodian and Chinese descent.

Ngor first trained as a surgeon and gynecologist. In the late 1970s, he managed to survive three terms in prison camps during the Cambodian genocide, using his medical knowledge to keep himself alive by eating beetles, termites, and scorpions. Tragically, while Ngor and his wife were in a camp, she died giving birth, and their child did not survive. Although he was trained, he could not perform the necessary C-section without exposing himself, which likely would have resulted in the deaths of him, his wife, and their child. After managing to escape Cambodia, he worked in a refugee camp in Thailand, and then moved to America.

Unable to resume his medicine practice in the US, and despite not having trained as an actor before, Ngor was cast in the role of a fellow Cambodian Genocide Survivor, journalist Dith Pran, in The Killing Fields, which ended up becoming his best-known and most acclaimed role. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance (and that was very much Award Category Fraud considering his screentime in the film), and in doing so became the first actor of Asian descent to win the award, as well as the only one until Ke Huy Quan won it 38 years later for Everything Everywhere All at Once. He appeared in a dozen other productions afterwards.

Ngor was murdered at the age of 55 in a bungled robbery outside his home in Los Angeles on February 25, 1996.

Selected filmography: