Xia Meng, a prominent Hong Kong actress and film producer, died at end of October at 83.

While some Hong Kong media reported the actress died on Oct. 28 in Hong Kong, Ng See-yuen, Hong Kong director and the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said he heard from Xia’s friends that the actress actually died on Oct. 30. Xia’s family has not openly made a statement to confirm the date or issued any obituary, as they want to keep a low-profile.

The legendary actress, known as “China’s Audrey Hepburn,” was once praised as one of the most beautiful actresses in China.

Xia, born Yang Meng in 1933 in Shanghai, China, moved with her family to Hong Kong in 1947. In 1949, she was chosen to play the leading role in the English-language production of “Saint Joan” in school.

She took her stage name “Xia Meng” (Summer Dream) from William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and from the fact that she signed with leading left-wing studio Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd in the summer of 1950 with a dream of being a big movie star.

Xia Meng’s first role as the title character in Li Pingqian’s “A Night-Time Wife” (1951) rocketed her to stardom. The comedy was a hit and decades later stands out as a genuine classic of Hong Kong cinema. Many other hits followed as Xia became the prima donna of the Hong Kong Mandarin movie scene. There was the tragic demimondaine of “Sunrise” (1956), her role as the virtuous widow in “A Widow’s Tears” (1956) and, perhaps most remarkably, her gender-bending turn as a man masquerading as a woman in the all-female Shaoxing opera comedy “The Bride Hunter” (1960).

Xia married to businessman Lin Baocheng in 1954 and moved to Canada in 1967.

In 1969, Xia returned to Hong Kong and started a garment manufacturing business with her husband. After the end of The Cultural Revolution, Xia was invited by Liao Chengzhi, then vice chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC), to attend the 4th National Congress of China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (CFLAC) in Beijing in 1979, which was considered to be her first public appearance after her final screen performance in 1967. Under the encouragement of Liao, Xia decided to return to movies as a producer.

In 1980, she formed Bluebird Movie Enterprises Ltd, and produced the debut film “Boat People,” directed by Ann Hui and starring George Lam and Andy Lau in 1982, which won several awards including the best picture and best director in the second Hong Kong Film Awards.

“She’s the one who changed my life,” the now legendary Hong Kong megastar Andy Lau said.

Ann Hui called Xia the “most graceful person.” “After I finished ‘Boat People’, there were many issues, but she never said a word and dealt with them quietly. She is a role model in demeanor and manner for future generations. “

After producing “Young Heroes” (Mou Dunfei, 1983) and “Homecoming” (Yim Ho, 1984), Xia sold her film company to Jiang Zuyi. She was not involved in movie production afterwards.

In her 17-year film career, she acted in 38 classic films and produced three. Xia’s performance in “Peerless Beauty” and “A Widow’s Tears” won her the Greatest Individual Achievement Award from the Cultural Ministry of China. In 1995, Xia was honored with the Chinese Film Stars Special Award, in conjunction with the 90th anniversary of Chinese cinema.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Xia has a star with hand print and autograph on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong. In August 2005, when China honored 128 movie stars in a commemorative stamp collection marking 100 years of Chinese-language cinema, Xia was one of the honorees. She received a lifetime award at the 18th Shanghai International Film Festival in 2015.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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