Keye Luke, 86, a durable actor who was a fixture in the Charlie Chan movies of the 1930s, a perennial television performer and an Oriental sage in Woody Allen's just-released "Alice," died of a stroke Saturday in Whittier, Calif., his agent said yesterday.
As the stern dispenser of herbs and wisdom who serves as a sounding board and informal psychiatrist to Mia Farrow in the title role of "Alice," Mr. Luke appeared in his final role to be playing a character with similarities to what audiences might have expected of him in real life.
A disciplined veteran of the Hollywood scene, inured to the demands of B-movie production, he worked steadily in films and then in television, despite his advancing years.
The role of wise mentor was one in which he was familiar to modern audiences from his work as Master Po on the series "Kung Fu," which ran on television from 1972 to 1975.
"There is a lot of this caustic, blustery old man in me," Mr. Luke said of his acupuncturist part in "Alice" during an interview last year with the New York Times.
But show business fame first came to Mr. Luke in the role of irreverent disciple. He played Lee Chan, the No. 1 son to crime-solver Charlie Chan (played by Warner Oland) in a series of 1930s films based on the durable character created by novelist Earl Derr Biggers.
"Charlie Chan in Paris" (1935) was followed by "Charlie Chan in Shanghai," "Charlie Chan at the Circus," "Charlie Chan at the Opera" " and "Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo," to name only a few.
In all, Mr. Luke played in about 150 films, and made dozens of television series appearances as well as playing on Broadway.
But it was his painting that got him his chance to act. Mr. Luke was born in Canton, came to this country as a boy, living in Seattle.
Later, he went to Hollywood where he drew caricatures and designed billboards for studio publicity departments. When he got a call from MGM, he thought it was to be for more of the same.
Instead, they wanted an Asian actor fluent in English for "The Painted Veil," starring Greta Garbo. "I actually got to shake Garbo's hand in one scene and was on cloud nine for weeks after," he said.
Mr. Luke's wife died 11 years ago. He lived with a daughter who was with him when he died.