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Broadway actress China critic Lois Wheeler Snow dies in Swiss home

Lois

Along with U.S. Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, Lois expressed her displeasure at China being awarded the 2008 Olympic Games.

(Keystone)

Lois Wheeler Snow, former Broadway actress and widow of US journalist Edgar Snow, has died aged 97 in Nyon near Geneva. She had lived in Switzerland since 1959. 

Her death on April 3 was confirmed by her daughter to the German Press Agency on Thursday. 

Lois Wheeler was born in Stockton, California, and after studying drama moved to New York. In 1949, she married the China correspondent Edgar Snow, who was friends with Chinese leader Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. 

Her husband had spent a lot of time with the communists during the Chinese civil war in the 1930s and wrote the famous book “Red Star over China” about his experiences in 1937. 

Lois’s acting career came to an end after she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for alleged communist sympathies. Like Charlie Chaplin, the couple settled in the Lake Geneva region in 1959. Thanks to her husband, Lois was popular in Beijing for a long time. 

But the bloody suppression of the democracy movement in 1989 changed her attitude towards China. The massacre turned her into a passionate critic of human rights violations, whose voice was given special weight by her husband’s legacy. Edgar Snow helped to initiate the historic visit of US President Richard Nixon to China in 1972, but Snow died of cancer just before the visit. 

SDA-ATS/ac

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