Fil-Am daughter pens intimate book on ‘50s child film star Tessie Agana
Parents of today’s young Filipino Americans will remember the ‘50s child actress Tessie Agana, known as the “Shirley Temple of the Philippines” and “The Nation’s Little Sweetheart.”
A book written by Agana’s daughter, Mylene Agana Jao Richardson, and titled The Legend of Tessie Agana: Beloved Child Star of the Philippines will be released Sept. 30, chronicling her film career and life story, which is inextricably with that of Alana’s mother, the popular actress Linda Estrella.
Mylene Agana Richardson experiences her own voyage of self-discovery as she learns more about her mother’s life and choices. Filial barriers break down as Mylene has candid talks with Agana, who now lives with dementia.
In 2022, Tessie Agana received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) during its 70th Awards ceremony. She and her children and grandchildren were able to travel to the Philippines for the event.
Tessie’s mother, Linda Estrella, began acting at 17 years old, famous for her beauty, hazel eyes and an operatic voice. The mother-daughter duo starred in popular movies together and toured the world as professional singers.
However, exposure to the public eye became nearly intolerable, leading to their decision to move to the United States, where for the first time, Tessie experienced the freedom of living as ordinary teenager in America.
The book deals candidly with Tessie’s adult struggles – “the complexities of family dynamics, depression, and isolation, showing how in Tessie’s life, a spiral of love, mental health, and pain lurked behind a charmed façade.”