Leslie Cheung

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Leslie Cheung
Leslie Cheung.jpg
Cheung performing at a concert in 1997.
Chinese name張國榮 (traditional)
JyutpingZoeng1 Gwok3wing4 (Cantonese)
OriginHong Kong
Born(1956-09-12)12 September 1956
Hong Kong
Died1 April 2003(2003-04-01) (aged 46)
Hong Kong
Other name(s)Gor Gor (哥哥)[1][2][3]
OccupationSinger-songwriter, actor
Genre(s)Cantopop, Mandopop
Voice type(s)Baritone
Label(s)Polydor Records, Capital Artists, Cinepoly Records, Rock Records, Universal Music Group
Years active1977–2003
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Leslie Cheung
Leslie Cheung.jpg
Cheung performing at a concert in 1997.
Chinese name張國榮 (traditional)
JyutpingZoeng1 Gwok3wing4 (Cantonese)
OriginHong Kong
Born(1956-09-12)12 September 1956
Hong Kong
Died1 April 2003(2003-04-01) (aged 46)
Hong Kong
Other name(s)Gor Gor (哥哥)[1][2][3]
OccupationSinger-songwriter, actor
Genre(s)Cantopop, Mandopop
Voice type(s)Baritone
Label(s)Polydor Records, Capital Artists, Cinepoly Records, Rock Records, Universal Music Group
Years active1977–2003
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Cheung.

Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003) was a Hong Kong singer-songwriter, actor, film director, record producer, and screenwriter. Cheung is considered as "one of the founding fathers of Cantopop" by "combining a hugely successful film and music career."[4] He rose to prominence as a teen heartthrob and pop icon of Hong Kong in the 1980s, receiving numerous music awards including both Most Popular Male Artist Awards at the 1988 and 1989 Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards.[5][6] In 1989, Cheung announced his retirement from the music industry as a pop singer. Returning to the music scene after a five-year hiatus, Cheung released his chart-topping comeback album Most Beloved (寵愛) which achieved a huge market success. In 1999, he won the Golden Needle Award for his outstanding achievement as a musician at the RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards,[7] and his 1984 hit song Monica was voted as Hong Kong's "Song of the Century".[8] He was honoured as "Asia's Biggest Superstar" at the 2000 CCTV-MTV Music Honours.[9]

Cheung won the 1991 Hong Kong Film Award (Days of Being Wild)[10] and the 1994 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award (Ashes of Time)[11] for best actor. He had also won the 1994 Japan Film Critics Society Award for best actor for his performance in Farewell My Concubine and ten other best actor nominations, five Golden Horse Awards, three Cannes Film Festival Awards,[12][13] a Asia Pacific Film Festival Award, and a Venice Film Festival Award.[14]

Cheung's music and movies not only captured fans in Hong Kong but also other Asian areas including Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan and South Korea. He is the first foreign artist to hold 16 concerts in Japan that has yet to be broken and the record holder as the best-selling C-pop artist in Korea.[15]

Cheung was ranked as the favourite actor in the 100 years of Chinese cinema.[16][17] In 2010, he was voted the third "Most Iconic Musicians of All Time" (after Michael Jackson and The Beatles).[18] CNN considered Cheung as the "Most Beautiful Man from Hong Kong Cinema" and one of "Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time."[19][20]


Cheung 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.[21][22][23] His parents divorced when he was quite young. While in Hong Kong, Cheung attended Rosaryhill School at Wanchai on Hong Kong Island. At age 12, he was sent to Norwich School in England.[24] He worked as a bartender at his relatives' restaurant in Southend-on-Sea 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."[24]

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."[24] "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."[25]

He attended the University of Leeds where he studied textile management. He continued 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.[22][26]


He donated profits of the 1989 album Salute to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, which was named the Leslie Cheung Memorial Scholarship after his death.[27]

With the popularity of Cheung and Tam, fans of these two stars became increasingly hostile to each other, starting a long-standing conflict that soon put heavy pressure on both singers. In 1988, Alan Tam publicly quit all pop music award ceremonies. In 1989, Cheung announced his intention to retire from his music career as a singer. Cheung then set a record by being the first singer ever in Cantopop history to hold a retirement concert series Final Encounter of the Legend, which ran for 33 consecutive nights (he was 33 at the time) at Hong Kong Coliseum.

The turning point in Cheung's acting career came in 1986 with his starring role in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow,[28] which broke Hong Kong's box office record. In the following years Cheung was praised for his performances in films which found popularity with audiences worldwide, including A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), Rouge (1987) and Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Being Wild (1991).[29]

Although Cheung quit his career as a pop singer from 1989 to 1995, he continued his music career as a composer. He composed more than ten songs during that time. In 1993, he won Best Original Movie Song Award from Golden Horse Film Festival for the theme song Red Cheek, White Hair to the movie The Bride with White Hair (as a composer). In 1995, he composed all three theme songs for the film The Phantom Lover. As a composer, Cheung won four nominations for Best Original Movie Song Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards and two nominations for Best Original Film Song at the Hong Kong Film Awards. In 1998, he was a member of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.[30]

In 1995 Cheung signed a contract with Rock Records, returning to music as a singer. At the same year, he released his first post-"retirement" album, Beloved. Beloved achieved large market success with the award of IFPI Best Selling Album,.[31][32]

Personal life[edit]

Though Cheung had never publicly declared his sexual orientation, he once said in an interview with 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 to marry me."[33]

Cheung and Ngai Sze-Pui (倪詩蓓), a Hong Kong model and actress whom he met on the set of Agency 24, were in a relationship for two years.[34]

In a 1997 concert, Cheung openly revealed his relationship with Daffy Tong Hok-Tak,[35] who remained his partner until Cheung's death.

Charity work[edit]

Cheung was a supporter of several charities concerning children's welfare. He was a patron of the Children's Cancer Foundation, a charity provides caring service for young children with cancer and their families. Cheung donated HK$1 million (US$128,000) in 1996 and launched five sets of RED cards to help raise funds for the Children's Cancer Foundation.[36] He was also a patron of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation (ECSAF), founded by veteran actress Josephine Siao. In 1999 and 2000, he appeared in TVB charity shows to help raise funds for ECSAF, in which he was appointed a goodwill ambassador in 2002.[37]


He moved to Vancouver in 1990 and became a Canadian citizen by naturalisation.[38] He held dual British National (Overseas) and Canadian citizenship.

Death and legacy[edit]

Leslie Cheung leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel (right) located at the Central district, Hong Kong Island.
"Miss You Much Leslie" exhibition at Times Square (Hong Kong), April 2013.

Cheung committed suicide on 1 April 2003 at 6:43 pm (HKT).[39] He leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island.[40] He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.[41][42][43][44][45][46]

As one of the most popular performers in Asia, Cheung's death broke the hearts of millions of his fans across Asia and shocked the Asian entertainment industry and Chinese community worldwide.[41][47][48][49][50][51] The day after Cheung'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 previously 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 traveling 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 a 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.

Cheung's suicide note (translation):

"Depression! Many thanks to all my friends. Many thanks to Professor Felice Lieh-mak (Cheung's last psychiatrist). This year has been so tough. I can't stand it anymore. Many thanks to Mr. Tong. Many thanks to my family. Many thanks to Sister Fei. In my life I have done nothing bad. Why does it have to be like this?"

In a 2012 interview, Cheung's eldest sister, Ophelia, stated Cheung was diagnosed with clinical depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.[52] She said that reporters were frequently found outside of her brother's home which hampered his ability to get to his doctor's facility. Thus, he would come over to her house to consult with his doctor. He would ask his sister, "Why am I depressed? I have money and so many people love me." He was reluctant to take medication for his depression.[53]

In 2013, Cheung's former music agent Florence Chan organised two memorial concerts entitled "Miss You Much Leslie" on 31 March and 1 April for the 10th anniversary of Cheung's death. Big names of the Hong Kong entertainment industry such as Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Andy Hui, Leo Ku, Chilam Cheung, Vivian Chow, Kelly Chen, Joey Yung, Grasshoppers, and others performed at the concert at Hong Kong Coliseum. In addition, in 2013, Cheung's fans from around the world made 2 million origami cranes for the Guinness World Record as a tribute to the anniversary.[54]

Awards and nominations[edit]

RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards[edit]

1984Top 10 Gold Songs"Monica"Won
1985Top 10 Gold Songs"Wild Wind" (不羈的風)Won
1986Top 10 Gold Songs"Past Love" (當年情)Won
1987Top 10 Gold Songs"Sleepless Night" (無心睡眠)Won
Best CDSummer RomanceWon
Sales Award (Best-Selling Album of the Year)Summer RomanceWon
1988Top 10 Gold Songs"Silence is Golden" (沉默是金)Won
Top 10 Gold Songs"Don’t Need Too Much" (無需要太多)Won
IFPI AwardHimselfWon
1999Top 10 Gold Songs"Left Right Hand" (左右手)Won
Golden Needle AwardHimselfWon
2000Top 10 Gold Songs"Big Heat" (大熱)Won
2002Silver Jubilee AwardHimselfWon

Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards[edit]

1983Top 10 Gold Songs"Wind Blows On" (風繼續吹)Nominated
1984Top 10 Gold Songs"Monica"Won
1985Top 10 Gold Songs"Wild Wind" (不羈的風)Won
1986Top 10 Gold Songs"Past Love" (當年情)Won
Top 10 Gold Songs"Who Resonates With Me" (有誰共鳴)Won
Gold Song Gold Award (Best Song of the Year)"Who Resonates With Me"Won
1987Top 10 Gold Songszh-hk|無心睡眠})Won
Gold Song Gold Award (Best Song of the Year)"Sleepless Night"Won
1988Top 10 Gold Songs"Silence is Golden"Won
Top 10 Gold Songs"Closer" (貼身)Won
Most Popular Male ArtistHimselfWon
1989Top 10 Gold Songs"Starting from Zero" (由零開始)Won
Most Popular Male ArtistHimselfWon
1999Honours AwardHimselfWon
2000Four Channel Award (Best Album of the Year)UntitledWon
Honours AwardHimselfWon

Other music awards[edit]

1988Ultimate Song Chart AwardsUltimate Male Artist Gold AwardHimselfWon
1989Ultimate Song Chart AwardsUltimate Male Artist Gold AwardHimselfWon
Ultimate Song Chart AwardsIFPI AwardSide FaceWon
1999Ultimate Song Chart AwardsUltimate Song Award (No. 1 Song of the Year)"Left Right Hand"Won
Metro Radio Hit Music AwardsMetro Radio Hit Song of the Year"Left Right Hand"Won
Metro Radio Hit Music AwardsMetro Radio Top 10 Hit Songs"Left Right Hand"Won
2000CCTV-MTV Music HonoursAsia's Biggest SuperstarHimselfWon
2001Chinese Pop Music Media AwardsBest Male SingerHimselfWon

Hong Kong Film Awards[edit]

1983Best ActorNomadNominated
1988Best ActorA Better Tomorrow 2Nominated
Best Original Film SongA Chinese Ghost StoryNominated
1989Best ActorRougeNominated
1991Best ActorDays of Being WildWon
1994Best Original Film SongThe Bride With White HairNominated
1995Best ActorHe's a Woman, She's a ManNominated
Best Original Film SongHe's a Woman, She's a ManWon
1996Best Original Film SongThe Phantom LoverNominated
1997Best ActorViva EroticaNominated
Best Original Film SongWho's the Woman, Who's the Man?Nominated
1998Best ActorHappy TogetherNominated
2003Best ActorInner SensesNominated

Golden Horse Awards[edit]

1991Best ActorDays of Being WildNominated
1993Best Original SongThe Bride With White HairWon
1994Best Original SongHe's a Woman, She's a ManNominated
1995Best Original SongThe Phantom LoverNominated
1996Best ActorTemptress MoonNominated
Best Original SongTemptress MoonNominated
Best Original SongWho's the Woman, Who's the Man?Nominated
1997Best ActorHappy TogetherNominated
2000Best ActorDouble TapNominated
2002Best ActorInner SensesNominated

Other film awards[edit]

1991Asia Pacific Film FestivalBest ActorDays of Being WildNominated
1993Cannes Film FestivalBest ActorFarewell My ConcubineNominated
1994Hong Kong Film Critics Society AwardsBest ActorAshes of TimeWon
Japan Film Critics SocietyBest ActorFarewell My ConcubineWon
Venice Film FestivalBest ActorAshes of TimeNominated
1996Cannes Film FestivalBest ActorTemptress MoonNominated
1997Cannes Film FestivalBest ActorHappy TogetherNominated

Ming Pao Power Academy Awards[edit]

2000Honorary AwardHimselfWon
Outstanding Male SingerHimselfWon
2002Best ActorInner SensesWon



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lisa Oldham Stokes (2007). Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. xxvii. ISBN 978-0-8108-5520-5. 
  2. ^ "Sina Entertainment News" (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Sina Entertainment News". Sina Corp. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, "World Music Volume 2: Latin and North America, Caribbean, India, Asia and Pacific", P54., BBC Radio, ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  5. ^ "1988 JSG Best Ten Awards". TVB. 
  6. ^ "1989 JSG Best Ten Awards". TVB. 
  7. ^ "RTHK Classics Channel". Rthk.org.hk. 
  8. ^ 張國榮Monica入選世紀金曲[unreliable source?] 1999-11-22
  9. ^ "Acts Honored at CCTV-MTV Show in China" (1 July 2000) Billboard.
  10. ^ "List of Award Winner of The 10th Hong Kong Film Awards". Hkfaa.com. 
  11. ^ "List of Winners of 1994 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards". Filmcritics.org.hk. 17 February 1995. 
  12. ^ "In Competition Actors". Festival-cannes.fr. 
  13. ^ "In Competition Actors". Festival-cannes.fr. 
  14. ^ "Best Actor Award". Lesliecheung.cc. 
  15. ^ "Leslie Cheung's Popularity in Korea". Tw.twent.chinayes.com. 
  16. ^ "Cheung Tops Asia's CCTV-MTV Honors", AllBusiness.com, Inc.
  17. ^ "'Farewell My Concubine' most appreciated in HK", China Daily
  18. ^ "Michael Jackson: Your number one music icon". CNN. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  19. ^ Hottest Men from HK Cinema CNN
  20. ^ Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time CNNGo 4 March 2010
  21. ^ Kevin Thomas, "A Career In Full Plumet", Los Angeles Times, 22 June 1997, page 6
  22. ^ a b Michel Ciment, Hubert Niogret, "Interview of Leslie Cheung", Positif no. 455/1999, Berlin, conducted on 21 February 1998
  23. ^ Chitose Shima, "Leslie Cheung Interview", All About Leslie, pp. 25–40, Saangyo Henshu Center Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1999, ISBN 4-916199-10-3
  24. ^ a b c Corliss, Richard (30 April 2001). "Forever Leslie". Time. Retrieved 18 February 2014.  (Archived version)
  25. ^ Leslie Cheung, "Leslie Cheung Autobiography", Commercial Radio Hong Kong, 1985, (also collected in Album Collection History-His Story by Capital Artist, 2004), an English translation can be found in here
  26. ^ Chitose Shima, "Leslie Cheung Interview", All About Leslie, p25-43, Sangyo Henshu Center Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1999, ISBN 4-916199-10-3
  27. ^ "Leslie Cheung Memorial Scholarship". Hkapa.edu. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  28. ^ Lisa Oldham Stokes (2007). Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8108-5520-5. 
  29. ^ Yingjin Zhang; Zhiwei Xiao (2002). Encyclopedia of Chinese Film. London & New York: Routledge. p. 118. ISBN 0-203-19555-8. 
  30. ^ "Berlinale: 1998 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 14 January 2012. 
  31. ^ "Leslie Cheung's Beloved are sold more than 300,000", Min Pao Weekly, 28 Oct 1995, see
  32. ^ Achievements of Leslie Cheung[dead link]
  33. ^ Corliss, R. (2001). "Forever Leslie", Time (Asia Edition). Retrieved 17 December 2005.
  34. ^ "倪詩蓓現狀_張國榮女友倪詩蓓資料簡介及照片曝光【圖】-老男人繁體中文版". Alididi.info. 19 September 2010. 
  35. ^ [1]
  36. ^ 為兒童癌病基金賣卡籌款 張國榮帶頭捐一百萬. 1996.12.12 蘋果日報
  37. ^ 張國榮「護苗」出錢出力 2002-05-21
  38. ^ Lisa Odham Stokes, Michael Hoover, City on fire: Hong Kong cinema, p. 363, 1999.
  39. ^ 陳淑芬細說 哥哥最後電話, Apple Daily, 29 March 2013
  40. ^ Corliss, R. (2003). "That old feeling: Days of being Leslie" Time magazine Asia Edition. Retrieved 17 December 2005.
  41. ^ a b Stephen Kelly, "WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS?" Leslie Cheung, 1956–2003", 8 May 2003
  42. ^ "Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing commits suicide.", Hong Kong Entertainment News in Review (2003). Retrieved 17 December 2005
  43. ^ "Actor Leslie Cheung 'found dead'", BBC, 1 April 2003
  44. ^ "Activities to Commemorate Leslie Cheung", Xinhua, 2 April 2005
  45. ^ Yu Sen-lun, "The Leslie Cheung Legend Lives on", TaiPei Times, 10 April 2003
  46. ^ Bruce Einhorn, "Hong Kong: A City in Mourning", Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 14 April 2003
  47. ^ "Leslie Cheung, Larger Than Life". Web.archive.org. 18 April 2008. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  48. ^ "Jonathan Crow, "Leslie Cheung", AOL Allmovie". Movies.aol.com. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  49. ^ "Leslie Cheung's Suicide" Gothamist, 3 April 2003
  50. ^ "Week of 5 April 2003". "Life in Legacy. Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  51. ^ "Forty Thousands Fans Farewell Leslie Cheung in the Raining Night", Modern Business News, 4 April 2003
  52. ^ 李明皙. "Leslie Cheung's depression cause was biological, according to his sister". Big5.china.com.cn. 
  53. ^ "张国荣忧鬱揭秘 生前求助白龙王不果". Oriental Daily. 
  54. ^ Leslie Cheung's origami display delayed Yahoo!! Malaysia

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Hong Kong Film Awards
Preceded by
Chow Yun-Fat for All About Ah Long
Best Actor
1991 for Days of Being Wild
Succeeded by
Eric Tsang for Alan and Eric Between Hello and Goodbye
Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
Preceded by
Best Actor
Succeeded by
Stephen Chow
RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards
Preceded by
Anita Mui
Golden Needle Award
Succeeded by
Jacky Cheung
Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards
Preceded by
Alan Tam
Most Popular Male Artist
1988, 1989
Succeeded by
Andy Lau
Preceded by
Honours Award
1999, 2000
Succeeded by
Anita Mui
Ultimate Song Chart Awards
Preceded by
Ultimate Male Artist Gold Award
1988, 1989
Succeeded by
Anthony Lun
Ming Pao Power Academy Awards
Preceded by
Honorary Award
2000 (& Andy Lau)
Succeeded by
Stephen Chow
Preceded by
Outstanding Male Singer
Succeeded by
Eason Chan
Preceded by
Andy Lau for Love on a Diet
Outstanding Actor in Film
2002 for Inner Senses
Succeeded by
Andy Lau for Running on Karma