Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing (1956-2003)
How time flies! It has been five years since April Fool's Day has been redefined. Well, at least for the fans of the late Leslie Cheung.
On April 1, 2003, the news of Leslie plunging to his death from a Hong Kong hotel startled the Chinese entertainment world. The reason of his sudden suicide has also been highly speculated. After all he seemed to have everything going for him.. good looks, great talents and a high-flying career in the show biz.. no doubt he was one of the most popular artistes HK has ever produced.
I remembered five years ago today, I was having dinner at Hartamas with HL when my mom called and said that my sister from HK told her that Leslie had died. I couldn't believe it, although it was unlikely that my mom would play a prank on me even if it was April Fool's Day. Even HL was dubious, so immediately I called my sister and she told me seriously that it was true and not a `joke'!
As it was such a shocking news - and one that was newsworthy even for the English press, I ended up writing a series of news stories and articles for the paper I was working with then.. Basically I got the latest news/gossips related to his death from HK and translated some of them. I even covered a memorial for Leslie in Mid Valley, but felt I was a participant too..
The irony was, I wasn't even a Leslie's fan, even though I admired his talent and also enjoyed his music and movie. Since our teens, my sis was officially his fan while my idol had always been Alan Tam (and apparently we even fought over our idols!) But now that my sister is married with kids, she was definitely much less fervent towards her `idol'.. she didn't attend any of his memorials or events even though she's in HK.
Even though I wasn't a fan, Leslie's death somehow still shook me in a way, especially since I was covering all the aftermaths and news related to the tragedy. It made me realise how fragile life was and how depression could be fateful even though you may have everything in the world. But on the other hand, the dramatic way to which he chose to end his life has reinforced his legendary status.. people would always remember Leslie Cheung. Just think of names like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, who died young and at the peak of their careers. They remain the immortal stars in the hearts of their fans.
Truly Leslie was a rare talent.. how many Chinese artiste could you name who is successful in both singing and acting careers? Leslie, who started off singing had attained stardom in the movie world with sterling role such as the startlet in `Farewell My Concubine'. Singing wise, he continued to reinvent himself. His latter years' concerts saw him as a pioneer who daringly wore long wig, skirts and high-heels and pushing the boundary of sexuality.
Cliche though it may sound but there won't be another person who would come close to what Leslie Cheung has achieved.
Since today is the 5th anniversary of Leslie's death, I thought I would just blog a bit on it as a tribute to one of the brightest, most talented artistes on this side of the world..