Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Fat Lady Sings no more

The Lunar New Year is hardly over when we hear that Hong Kong movie actress and entertainer Lydia Sum Tin Har has died of liver cancer. She died yesterday. She was just 60. Why is this lady so important in our lives? Because we grew up with her. When my parents got their first TV in the early 1970s, she appeared regularly in the Hong Kong Cantonese movies that were a staple on the goggle-box. Mediacorp's grand-predecessor, RTS (Radio Television Singapore), was just a startup government controlled and operated transmitting station, with hardly any original content of its own. Along with Siu Fong Fong and Fung Bo Bo, Sum Tin Har was a staple. I was very young then, but could recognise her whenever there was a movie featuring her. Well, ok, she was the only Cantonese actress of note that had a certain gait, plus her signature horn-rimmed glasses. Who could mistake her for any other?

My wife just couldn't stop watching all the tribute programmes by her fellow entertainers at TVB. Even Singapore got in the act because Lydia did work with Singapore's Mediacorp in the 1990s on the 'Living with Lydia' series.

When people you 'grew up with' dies, you are more aware of mortality issues. Strangely, I was drawn to memories of the movie, "Chariots of Fire", which I watched as a youth. In that movie, Eric Liddell preached of how weak we humans can be. We fail in our best effort and fall like flies (I am paraphrasing from memory). Eric Liddell went on to become a Christian Missionary to China, where he died. I remembered Ah Meng, who died about a week ago.

Truly, there has been more talk of death than fortune this Lunar New Year. It is depressing.

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