HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - Popular Hong Kong actress and comedienne Lydia Shum died on Tuesday at the age of 60, after a protracted battle with liver cancer.
Shum, possibly Hong Kong’s equivalent of U.S. comedienne Roseanne Barr, was one of Hong Kong’s best-known entertainers and fondly called “Fei Fei” or “Fatty Shum” for her corpulent physique and exuberant personality.
Her influence extended to greater China and Chinese communities the world over.
Leading lights in Hong Kong’s entertainment and political circles paid tribute to Shum’s life and career, intertwined with the collective memories of many Hong Kong families.
“The sound of her laughter has been a part of growing up in Hong Kong and brought us a lot of joy,” Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang told reporters.
“She represented a kind of spirit that was respected by many Hong Kong people and her passing makes me feel very sad,” Tsang added, noting her gritty fight against cancer and the care she showed for her home city.
Local media reported that Shum died in Hong Kong’s Queen Mary Hospital. Her family could not immediately be reached for comment.
The entertainer, known for her high-pitched voice and laughter, initially built her career in Hong Kong, although her popularity later spread to Singapore, where she anchored the sitcom “Living with Lydia”, speaking in accented but fluent English.
Born in Shanghai in 1947, Shum’s multi-faceted 40-year showbiz career began as a child actress with the Shaw Brothers Studio. She later became a legendary compere for the TVB variety show, “Enjoy Yourself Tonight”, which turned her into a household name.
Formerly married to actor Adam Cheng, Shum is survived by her daughter Joyce, who also has show business ambitions.
Reporting by James Pomfret, editing by Sophie Hardach
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