Anna Shay, who gained fame for her appearance on the Netflix reality show Bling Empire, has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 62. Her family confirmed that she died from a sudden stroke. In a statement to People, they said, “It saddens our hearts to announce that Anna Shay, a loving mother, grandmother, charismatic star, and our brightest ray of sunshine, has passed away at the early age of 62 from a stroke.” Anna’s family added that she taught them many life lessons on how not to take life too seriously and to enjoy the finer things. Her impact on their lives will be forever missed but never forgotten.
Anna Shay’s Life and Legacy
Anna Shay became a fan favorite quickly into the inaugural season of Bling Empire, a reality show about the fabulous lives of a select group of wealthy Asian and Asian-Americans living in Los Angeles. Part of the intrigue into her life was largely the mystery surrounding her background and wealth, and where it all came from. During the show, she was described by co-star Kane Lim as “half-Japanese and half-Russian and super, super wealthy,” and credited “weapons” as one of the drivers of her alleged billion-dollar wealth, claiming that her father “sells bombs, guns, defense technology – and it’s worth, like, a few billion.”
Shay later disputed those claims to People, telling the outlet: “I asked [Lim], ‘Why did you say my dad was in arms?’” and that: “He goes, ‘I don’t know.’ He thought he knew, but maybe he didn’t know and was just guessing.” NBC News has since reported that Shay’s father, Edward Shay, who died in 1995, was the founder of the American defense and government services contractor Pacific Architects and Engineers, or PAE. Today, his company’s clients include massive institutions such as NASA and the U.N.
Anna Shay never addressed her father’s professional history and involvement into what researchers described as one of the “ugliest aspects” of the Vietnam War, where his company provided cover for the Phoenix Program, a CIA-led operation to weed out undercover communist Viet Cong operatives and their sympathizers through a strategy that led to torture and, at times, killings of Vietnamese people and others.
Although Shay never talked about her father’s professional history, she became a beloved reality star who was surprised by the amount of fame and cult-following that Bling Empire brought her. “I wasn’t even expecting to be in front of the camera,” she also told People, admitting: “I’m very shy and I went along with whatever situation was happening. I was just being me.”
Anna Shay is survived by her son Kenny Kemp and some grandchildren whose identities are not publicly known. Her fans will forever remember her for her charismatic personality and her impact on the Bling Empire show.