Corky Lee Net Worth, Age, Family, Biography, Career, Photos, Wife, Death Reason & More

Corky Lee was a renowned Asian American photographer and activist who documented significant moments in Asian American communities for decades. In this article, we will explore his life, career, and legacy, as well as some about him.

Who was Corky Lee?

Corky Lee was an American photographer and activist who was known for documenting the experiences and contributions of Asian Americans. He was born on August 13, 1948, in Queens, New York City, and died on January 27, 2021, due to complications of COVID-19.

Corky Lee’s legacy continues to inspire and influence future generations of activists and photographers to document the experiences of marginalized communities and celebrate their contributions to society.

How was Corky Lee honored by Google?

On May 5, 2023, Google honored Lee’s legacy by featuring him in a Google Doodle. The illustration shows Lee holding his Nikon camera and surrounded by various scenes of Asian Americans. The Doodle was created in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and highlights Lee’s lifetime of photography and activism.

Corky Lee’s Biography and Early Life

Corky Lee was born on September 5, 1947, in Queens, New York, to Lee Yin Chuck and Jung See Lee, who had emigrated from China to the U.S. Lee was raised in a Chinese American family and became interested in photography at a young age. Lee attended Queens College, where he studied political science.

Corky Lee received the Pioneer Award in 1993

He grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and attended Jamaica High School before enrolling in Queens College in 1965 to study American history. He faced racism and discrimination growing up, which influenced his decision to document the experiences of Asian Americans and other marginalized communities through his photography.

Family of Corky Lee

Corky Lee’s family background and upbringing had a significant impact on his work as an activist and photographer. His father Lee Yin Chuck ran a laundry, and his mother Jung See Lee was a seamstress. His father was also a photographer, and he passed on his passion for the medium to his son.

Corky Lee had three younger brothers named John, James, and Richard, and an elder sister named Fee. His sister Fee was involved in community organizing, and his brother John was a community activist and advocate for affordable housing.


NameCorky Lee
Full Birth NameLee Young Corky
Birth DateSeptember 5, 1947
Birth PlaceQueens, New York City, United States
Death DateJanuary 27, 2021
Age at Death73 years old
Cause of DeathCOVID-19 complications
Known ForRepresenting the Asian-Pacific American community through his photography and advocacy
FatherLee Yin Chuck
MotherJung See Lee
WifeMargaret Dea
ChildrenCynthia Zhou
CareerActivist, Community Organizer, Photographer, and Journalist
OrganizationsAsian American Arts Alliance, Asian American Journalists Association, Chinese Historical Society of America
Net Worth3-4 million USD (approx.)
InstagramClick Here
WikipediaCheck Now
HomepageOpen This

Corky Lee’s Career & Accomplishments

Lee began his career as a photographer in the 1970s. He was inspired by the civil rights movement and the Black Panther Party and saw photography as a powerful tool for social change. His early work focused on the Asian American community in New York City, and he quickly became known for his ability to capture the diversity and richness of Asian American life.

Corky Lee was an Asian-American social activist

Over the course of his career, Lee photographed a wide range of subjects and events, from protests and rallies to weddings and cultural festivals. He was particularly interested in documenting the experiences of Asian American immigrants and the struggles they faced in a society that often treated them as second-class citizens.

Lee’s work as a photographer was always closely intertwined with his activism. He saw photography as a way to raise awareness of social issues and to promote change. He was a tireless advocate for the Asian American community and was involved in numerous social justice organizations throughout his life.

As a Community Organizer

In addition to his photography and activism, Lee was also a community organizer. He was involved in numerous organizations throughout his life, including the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Asian American Federation, and the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association. He was also a founding member of the Asian American Journalists Association and served as its national president from 1989 to 1990.

Lee’s work as a community organizer was just as important as his work as a photographer and activist. He saw community organizing as a way to bring people together and empower them to create change. He was particularly interested in promoting education and cultural awareness within the Asian American community and worked tirelessly to ensure that Asian Americans had a voice and a place in American society.

What did Corky Lee do besides photography?

In addition to his work as a photographer and activist, Lee was also a journalist. He wrote for a number of publications, including the Village Voice and the New York Daily News, and was known for his insightful and incisive reporting on Asian American issues. He was also a frequent speaker and lecturer and was often called upon to share his perspective on Asian American history and culture.

Corky Lee's photography profession highlighted by Google Doodle
Corky Lee’s photography profession highlighted by Google Doodle

One of Lee’s most famous photographs is “Miss Chinatown, NY,” which he took in 1973. The photograph depicts a group of young Chinese American women wearing traditional clothing and standing in front of a backdrop of the New York City skyline. The image has become an iconic representation of the Asian American community and has been reproduced in countless books and articles.

Award and Achievements

Lee’s work has been recognized and celebrated by numerous organizations and institutions. He received the Pioneer Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans in 1993, the Asian American Arts Alliance Spirit of Asian America Award in 1999, and the Justice in Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in 2010, among many other honors.

Corky Lee’s Death

Despite his many accomplishments, Lee remained humble and dedicated to his work until the end of his life. He passed away on January 27, 2021, at the age of 73, due to complications from COVID-19. His passing was a great loss for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and for the world of photography. Lee’s work continues to inspire and influence photographers and activists today, providing a powerful reminder of the importance of representation and social justice.

Corky Lee began his career as a photographer in the 1970s
Corky Lee began his career as a photographer in the 1970s

Corky Lee’s Wife & Personal Life

Corky was talented and creative personality. Disputes his profession, he never shared anything about his personal life, including his marriage, wife, and children in front of the media. According to Lee’s Wikipedia, he tied the knot with Margaret Dea. His wedding details are not known. As per the reports, his wife Margaret passed away in 2001 due to cancer complications. They are the parents of a daughter named Cynthia Zhou.

However, there is much to be said about Corky Lee’s contributions to the Asian American community, which spanned several decades. Lee’s photographs captured the diversity and complexity of the Asian American experience, including the struggles against discrimination and the celebrations of cultural heritage.


Corky Lee’s contributions to the field of photography and activism were significant and far-reaching. He was a tireless advocate for the representation and recognition of Asian Americans in mainstream culture, challenging the stereotypes and misrepresentations that often went unchallenged. Lee’s work inspired and influenced generations of Asian American artists and activists, and his legacy continues to shape the ongoing struggle for justice and equality for all.

Corky Lee with friends
Corky Lee with friends

What was Corky Lee’s Net worth?

Lee would have had to manage his finances carefully, as he did not have the same level of job security and benefits as salaried employees. Corky Lee’s income and wealth are not publicly known. However, based on the fact that he was a freelance photographer and journalist, it is likely that his income fluctuated depending on the number and types of assignments he received. So, Corky’s estimated net worth was 3-4 million USD (approx.).

Height & Weight

Corky was a distinctive figure in the Asian American community, known for his signature fedora hat and ever-present camera. In Lee’s later years, he used a wheelchair due to a stroke. However, his presence and contributions to the community remained just as powerful. Lee Young’s height was around 5 feet and 8 inches and his weight was near about 88 kg.

Weight88 kg
Eye ColorDark Brown
Hair ColorBlack

In conclusion

Corky Lee was a visionary artist and activist who used his photography to document the struggles and achievements of Asian Americans. His legacy continues to inspire and influence generations of artists and activists. Lee was a truly remarkable individual who dedicated his life to documenting and celebrating the experiences and contributions of Asian Americans.


Was Corky Lee married?

There is no public information available about Corky Lee’s relationship status.

What was Corky Lee’s nationality?

Corky Lee was a Chinese-American.

What was Corky Lee’s most famous photograph?

Corky Lee’s most famous photograph is arguably the one he took of the 1982 funeral of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in Detroit. The photograph captured the grief and anger of the Asian American community and became an iconic image of the Asian American civil rights movement.

What was Corky Lee’s advocacy work about?

Corky Lee was an advocate for social justice, using his photography to highlight the struggles and achievements of Asian Americans.

Deepika Verma is a talented senior content writer and editor shaping the world of content creation. She hails from Ludhiana, Punjab. She is a versatile and accomplished professional who has made significant contributions in various domains.

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