In 2000, Cheung was named Asian Biggest Superstar by China Central Television, and voted/ranked the 1st as The Most Favorite Actor in 100 Years of Chinese Cinema in 2005. In 2010 he was voted the third of the CNN's "top five most iconic musician of all time" placing behind Michael Jackson and The Beatles.
Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the youngest of ten children in a middle-class Hakka family. Cheung Wut Hoi, his father, was a fairly well known tailor, whose customers included American actors William Holden, Marlon Brando, and Cary Grant. His parents divorced when he was quite young. While in Hong Kong, Cheung attended Rosaryhill School. At age 13, he was sent to England as a boarder at Eccles Hall School. After six month study, he transferred himself to a school in Chelmsford, and obtained a scholarship. He worked as a bartender at his relatives' restaurant and sang during the weekends. It was around this period that he chose his name, "Leslie". According to Cheung, he chose this name because "I love the film Gone with the Wind. And I like Leslie Howard. The name can be a man's or woman's, it's very unisex, so I like it."
In several interviews, Cheung stated he had had a fairly unhappy childhood. "I didn't have a happy childhood. Arguments, fights and we didn't live together; I was brought up by my granny." "What I would say most affected me as a child, was that my parents were not at home with me. As a young kid, one could not always understand why his parents weren't at home. This made me depressed sometimes."
Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (1956 - 2003), nicknamed "Gor Gor", which means elder brother, was a Hong Kong film actor and musician. Cheung was considered as "one of the founding fathers of Cantopop", and "combining a hugely successful film and music career". In 1982 he met Daffy Tong Hok Tak at a party and they fell in love. They were inseparable for over twenty years. At first they kept their relationship secret, but after photos of them appeared in the tabloids they became more open.
He attended the University of Leeds where he studied textile management. He dropped out of university at the end of his first year, when his father fell ill. After his father's recovery, Cheung did not return to England to complete his studies.
Cheung was bisexual and once said in an interview in Time magazine: "It's more appropriate to say I'm bisexual. I've had girlfriends. When I was 22 or so, I asked my girlfriend Teresa Mo (his colleague in ATV of the time) to marry me." Despite numerous tabloid rumors, he denied his homosexual/bi-sexual orientation for the first half of his career, until his stance relaxed considerably after emigrating to Vancouver. In the early 1990s he became one of the few Hong Kong actors who dared to play gay characters onscreen.
Cheung's first gay role was Cheng Dieyi in Farewell My Concubine (1993). Cheng Dieyi was a Beijing opera singer or Dan (male actor who plays female roles) who had fallen in love with his male singing partner. In Wong Kar-wai's Happy Together (1997), Cheung played another gay role, Ho Po-wing. He was nominated for the Best Actor Award at the Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Happy Together.
In 1995 a Hong Kong tabloid published a photo of Cheung's long-life partner, Daffy Tong Hok-Tak (唐鶴德). In a 1997 concert, Cheung openly revealed that Tong and his mother were his "most beloved". The Hong Kong media eventually accepted the two men's relationship and the tabloid gave Tong the nickname Tong Tong (in the style of Gor Gor). They had been together for twenty years. After Cheung's death, Cheung's family published a full-page obituary in a Hong Kong newspaper, in which Tong was listed as a surviving spouse (未亡人). Tong, together with Cheung's eldest sister, was also designated as the executor of Cheung's estate.
Cheung committed suicide on 1 April 2003 at 6:43 pm (HKT). He leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island. He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.
As one of the most popular performers in Asia, Cheung's death shocked the Asian entertainment industry and Chinese community worldwide. The day after Leslie's death, his family confirmed that Cheung suffered from (clinical) depression and had been seeing psychiatrists for treatment for almost a year. They also revealed that Cheung had attempted suicide in 2002. Later at his funeral, Cheung's niece disclosed that her uncle had severe clinical depression and suffered much over the past year (2003).
Despite the risk of infection from SARS and the WHO's warning on travels to Hong Kong, tens of thousands attended Cheung's memorial service, which was held for the public, on 7 April 2003, including celebrities and other fans, many from other parts of the world such as mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the United States and Canada. Cheung's funeral was on 8 April 2003. For almost one month, Cheung's death dominated newspaper headlines in Hong Kong and his songs were constantly on the air. His final album, Everything Follows the Wind (一切隨風), was released three months after his death.
Chinese Film Stars (Routledge Contemporary China Series) by Mary Farquhar and Yingjin Zhang
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Routledge (July 13, 2011)
Amazon: Chinese Film Stars (Routledge Contemporary China Series)
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This volume of original essays fills a significant research gap in Chinese film studies by offering an interdisciplinary, comparative examination of ethnic Chinese film stars from the silent period to the era of globalization. Whereas studies of stars and stardom have developed considerably in the West over the past two decades, there is no single book in English that critically addresses issues related to stars and stardom in Chinese culture.
Chinese Film Stars offers exemplary readings of historically, geographically and aesthetically multifaceted star phenomena. An international line up of contributors test a variety of approaches in making sense of discourses of stars and stardom in China and the US, explore historical contexts in which Chinese film stars are constructed and transformed in relation to changing sociopolitical conditions, and consider issues of performance and identity specific to individual stars through chapter-by-chapter case studies. The essays explore a wide range of topics such as star performance, character type, media construction, political propaganda, online discourses, autobiographic narration, as well as issues of gender, genre, memory and identity.
Including fifteen case studies of individual Chinese stars and illustrated with film stills throughout, this book is an essential read for students of Chinese film, media and cultural studies.
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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