Luke was born in Guangzhou, China to a father who owned an art shop, but grew up in Seattle. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1944. Before becoming an actor, he was a local artist in Hollywood, and worked on several of the murals inside Grauman's Chinese Theater. He did some of the original artwork for the 1933 King Kong pressbook. Luke also painted the casino's mural in The Shanghai Gesture.