Alvin Ing's death last week followed a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, the actor's representatives said Tuesday. Ing received a pneumonia diagnosis in mid-July and tested positive for COVID-19 a few days later, Deadline reports. "Honolulu native and American Army veteran with a gift to serve, he felt a duty to himself and his fellow citizens to be fully vaccinated," a spokesperson said. Ing battled the disease for two weeks in a Burbank, California, hospital. He was 89. "Alvin was a joyful presence to be around at every rehearsal and performance," said Lea Salonga, who appeared with him in Flower Drum Song on Broadway. "He was a gift to everybody that got to work with him," she added. Terry Leung, also a former co-star, tweeted that "a generation of Asian performers would not be where we are today without his leadership and courage."
Ing was a pioneering Asian American actor and advocate for the AAPI community in the industry, involved with the Theater for Asian American Performing Artists. With that group, he performed skits and protested stereotypes. Ing was born in Honolulu, moving to New York at age 25 after studying music at the University of Hawaii. His Broadway debut came in Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures in 1976, per Variety. Ing also had a variety of roles in television shows, including Dallas, and film, including Smilla's Sense of Snow. In 2002, he sang "My Best Love" in the revival of Flower Drum Song. BD Wong, another co-star, said Asian American actors were long thought to be less talented than others. Then, "one day, Alvin Ing sang for me," Wong said. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)