In 1937, actress Luise Ranier starred in a film adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s novel “The Good Earth.” The plot centers on the rise and fall of a Chinese family’s fortunes. Ranier played O-Lan, the family matriarch.
Ranier, who was born and spent her childhood in Germany, was Caucasian.
She became one of the first instances of Hollywood’s whitewashing: casting a white actor in a non-white role. Thus began the film industry’s troubled history with diversity on screen. But I guess it worked out for Ranier: she won an Oscar for Best Actress.