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Thread: 100 Famous Women in China

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    70. Soong Qingling (the wife of Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary)
    Soong Qingling (01/27/1893—05/29/1981 AD) was the second wife of Sun Yat-sen (11/12/1866—03/12/1925 AD), who founded a revolutionary league. Her father was a priest as well as a business man, and also a friend and comrade of Sun Yat-sen. Hers was a rich family. She had two sisters and three brothers. Her younger sister was well-known to the world. (see next episode.)
    She got her education at McTyeire School in Shanghai. After graduation, in 1907, at the age of fourteen, she went to USA to study at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her English name was Rosamond. She got bachelor's degree of literature. In 1913, she returned to China. However, in 1915, she went to Japan and met Sun Yat-sen there. She became his assistant in his revolutionary career. On the twenty-fifth of October, that year, she married him in spite of her father's opposition. She followed his footsteps ever since until he died of cancer in 1925.
    In August of 1927, she went to Soviet Union and then to Europe for four years. She read works of Karl Marx and studied the core problems of the first socialist country and some big capitalist countries. In the Sino-Japanese was, she tended to the Communist Party of China. Therefore, in 1949 when CPC established their republic, she was appointed the vice chairman of the republic. In 1950, she was elected the member of World Council of Peace. In 1952, she was selected the chairwoman of Liaison Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
    In September of 1954, she was made the vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the First National People's Congress. On the seventh of April in 1959, in the first session of the National People's Congress, she was chosen to be the vice chairwoman of the People's Republic of China. In January of 1965, she was once more made the vice chairwoman of the People's Republic of China. In January of 1975, she was again made the vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the First National People's Congress. In February of 1978, she was given that position again. On the thirtieth of August in 1980, she was the executive chairman on the third session of the Fifth National People's Congress. On the fourteenth of May in 1981, her liver cancer and other disease worsened. On the fifteenth, the central political bureau declared that she was the member of CPC. And on the sixteenth, she was given the title of honorary chairwoman of the People's Republic of China. She died on the twenty-ninth in Beijing.
    It was said that besides English, she knew French, German, Russian, Italian and Greek. She could play piano well. She liked classical music of Europe. She could cook good dishes and could paint and embroider. She was all talented.

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    71. Soong May-ling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek)
    Soong May-ling (03/05/1897—10/24/2003 AD) was born in Shanghai and was the third wife of Chiang Kai-shek (10/31/1887—04/05/1975 AD), who was the chairman of the Republic of China. She was then the first lady of the Republic of China.
    In 1903, she was educated in McTyeire School in Shanghai. In 1908, at the age of eleven, she went with her sister Rosamond to USA to study in South Piedmont Community College and in 1912, she went to study in Wellesley College, MA. In 1917, she returned to Shanghai to work for a church and took part in all sorts of social activities. It was said that she had a secret engagement with a friend of her elder brother.
    In 1922, she met Chiang Kai-shek in Shanghai. Chiang started to suit her. But her family opposed it, because Chiang was married and believed in Buddhism. If he wanted to marry the girl, he must first divorce his wife and commence to change his belief in church. So he agreed to the conditions. Therefore, on the first of December in 1927, they got married. In 1930, Chiang had the ceremony in a Baptist Church in Shanghai.
    In 1928, she became the mistress of the school for the young family members of dead soldiers of the National Revolutionary Army. In 1932, she was the general secretary of Aviation Committee of China. In 1934, Soong and Chiang waged the New Life Movement, to promote drinking boiled water instead tea and coffee, learning to read and write instead of illiteracy, having habit of hygiene instead of spitting phlegm everywhere.
    On the twelfth of December in 1936, Chiang was detained in XiAn city by two generals he sent to attack the army of CPC. At the same time, Soong was in Shanghai, being not well. When the news came, she immediately went to Nanking city, the capital of Chiang's government. She talked to other government leaders and emphasized on the importance of solving the dispute peacefully. On the fifteenth of December, she flew to XiAn city to negotiate with the two generals and Zhou Enlai, the representative of CPC. Finally they reached an agreement and Chiang was released and came back to Nanking city in company of Soong on the twenty-fifth.
    In 1937, the Sino-Japanese war broke out. Chiang appointed Soong in charge of the air force. She then invited American general Claire Lee Chennault (09/06/1893—07/27/1958 AD) to China to form the “Flying tigers,” the nickname of Chinese air force. Soong was thereby nicknamed “Mother of the Air force of China.” In 1938, Times magazine published in USA put Chiang and Soong as cover figures. In February of 1943, to gain the help of America, Soong went to USA as Chinag's envoy and was received by the first lady of President Roosevelt and stayed in the White House for eleven days. On the twenty-eighth of February, she made a speech in US Congress. It was the first Chinese woman speaking in the US Congress. Then she toured to other cities to speak to American people for support. Statistics showed that almost 250,000 Americans had listened to her speeches. It was just after the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.
    In November of 1934, when Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang had a conference in Cairo, she went with Chiang as his interpreter since Chinag could not understand and speak English. In 1945, she lived in Chongqing city, which was the temporary capital of China at the war time since the real capital was then occupied by the Japanese army. She squeezed out time to write a novel titled Past Events Have Vanished Like Smoke.
    In October of 1946, Soong and Chiang first visited Taiwan. Then they moved to Taiwan when CPC occupied the mainland. In the sixties, she developed hospitals in Taibei city. In 1975, when Chinag died, she went to live in USA. On the twenty-ninth of May in 1981, when her second sister, Rosamond, died in Beijing, the embassy of China in Washington DC told her the sad news and hoped that she could go to Beijing to attend the funeral, but after the second thought, she declined.
    In 1986, she went back to Taiwan to attend the 100 anniversary of Chiang's birthday and made a speech, “I wish that the light of the Three People's Principles will shine over the mainland.” In 1991, she left Taiwan for the United States again, and never returned to Taiwan ever since. In 1994, she moved to live in New York city. In 1995, it was fiftieth anniversary of the end of the second world war. She was invited to attend the ceremony held for her in Congress for her great tributes in the second world war. She died on the twenty-third of October in 2003 at the age of one hundred and six in New York city.

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    72. Kawashima Yoshiko (a Chinese woman becoming a Japanese spy)
    Kawashima Yoshiko (05/23/1907—03/25/1948 AD) was the fourteenth daughter of a Mandarin prince. When the Qing dynasty was overthrown, the father gave this daughter to his friend, a Japanese called Kawashima Naniwa in the hope that this Japanese friend could train her as a best spy for the restoration of his collapsed dynasty. Therefore, in 1912, at the age of seven, the girl went to Japan with the Japanese man as her adoptive father for strict training. She was then changed her Chinese name Jin Bihui to a Japanese name: Kawashima Yoshiko.
    Several years later, Kawashima Yoshiko was all Japanese. Then she was sent to Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu—a female high school. When she grew up, she cut her hair short like a boy and liked male sports such as horse-riding, fencing, shooting and judo. She began to wear boy's clothes.
    She started her spy career in 1927 at the age of twenty-one. She returned to the Northeastern China, and in Port Arthur, she married a Mongolian, but in 1931, she eloped with the Japanese secret service chief to Shanghai. Then she secretly took part in the September 18th Incidents, which was that the Japanese army in northeastern China first framed Chinese army for the destroy of Japanese railroad there and then attacked and occupied Shengyang city, and afterwards, took all the region of the northeastern China, including all three provinces.
    She also participated in January 28th Incidents, which was that in 1931 right after the September 18th Incidents, Japanese army started to attack Shanghai and drove the Chinese guarding army out of the area. In 1932, she helped to established the so-called Manchukuo, a puppet government in the northeastern China and put on the throne a puppet emperor Peter, who had been the last emperor of Qing dynasty.
    Her purpose was to restore the Qing dynasty, but now as she understood that the Manchukuo was only a puppet government of Japan, not the restoration the Qing dynasty, she was disappointed and used the power in her hands to release some Chinese people arrested by Japanese army. So she was deemed by the Japanese army as a dangerous person. In 1934, she was sent back to Japan in confinement. Anyway, she escaped back to China and opened a restaurant in Tianjin city.
    In October of 1945 when Japan surrendered, she was arrested by the Chinese government and had the death verdict on twenty-second of October in 1945, and was executed on the twenty-fifth of March in 1948 in the First Prison in Peking at the age of forth-two.

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    73. Zhao Yidi (a woman having a long time love)
    Zhao Yidi (05/28/1912—06/22/2000) was born in Hong Kong. She was at first the mistress of general Zhang Xueliang (06/03/1901—10/15/2001 AD), commanding the army in the northeastern China, and then became his wife.
    In 1928, she went to Tianjin city to attend the Northeast University and got acquainted with general Zhang. Thus she became his secretary as well as his mistress. As Zhang had wife, she could not become his wife. But she followed him everywhere ever since.
    After the XiAn Incident on the twelfth of December in 1936, when he and another general were detained by Chiang Kai-shek, he was confined ever since and the girl accompanied him in his confinement for as long as seventy-two years. When Chiang escaped to Taiwan, he sent Zhang there too. And the girl ensued.
    In 1940, Zhang's wife was diagnosed to have breast cancer and went to USA for treatment. In 1964, Zhang divorced her and married the girl as his second wife. She had a son with Zhang.

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    74. Jiang Zhujun (a CPC member killed by KMD)
    Jiang Zhujun (08/20/1920—11/14/1949) was nicknamed Sister Jiang. She was born in Zigong town of Sichuan province. When she was eight years old, her mother left her idle father, taking her and her brother to Chongqing city, where her uncle lived. At the age of ten, she entered a sock factory and worked as child labor. Since her stature was shorter than the machine, the owner of the factory specially had a high stool made for her. Next year, she was sent to an orphanage run by a church. She then worked part time and studied part time.
    In 1939, she joined the Communist Party of China. In 1945, she was married to Peng Yongwu (1915—1948), who was a local party secretary. After the marriage, she worked for the newspaper published by CPC. In the winter of 1947, she was sent to Xiachuandong area to help Peng to organize the armed force. She was a liaison person. In 1948, her husband Peng died in a riot against the KMD government. She then succeeded his position and continued the revolution. On the fourteenth day of June in the same year, she was arrested owing to the betrayal of a comrade. She was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Chongqing city. She was of course tormented, but she refused to give any information of the Party's work. On the fourteenth day of November, 1949, she was executed at the age of twenty-eight. She had a son with Peng, and his name is Peng Yun, who now lives in USA.

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    75. Liu Hulan (youngest CPC member, killed by KMD)
    Liu Hulan (10/08/1932—01/12/1947) was born in a peasant's family in Yunzhouxi Village in the district of Wenshui town in Shanxi province. The village was now renamed as Liu Hulan Village. At that time that village was under the control of CPC. At eight years old, she went to a primary school there and accepted the Party's education. At ten, she joined scouts. In October of 1945, she took part in the “Female Cadre Training Class” for a month. When she was back, she became the secretary of the women's national salvation society. In May of 1946, she was promoted to be a female cadre in the fifth district. In June, she joined the Party.
    In the autumn of 1946, KMD army came to Wenshui town, and all the party's cadres escaped to the military base in Luuliang Mountains. The Party leaders thought that she was too young to cause the attention of the enemy, and so she stayed. On the twenty-first day of December of the same year, the communist militia came to kill the village leader, who had rejected to cooperate with CPC. Liu Hulan participated in the action. At the time, places often changed hands between CPC and KMD. Then KMD army came to arrest local militiamen, CPC soldiers and family members of CPC caders, six in all. Then Liu Hulan was betrayed and arrested, too, making the number seven. On the twelfth day of January, 1947, KMD army called all the villagers gathering on a square before a temple there. As Liu Hulan was the youngest, the MKD company leading officer said to her that if she could declare openly to betray CPC, she could be spared. She said never. Then the other six adult prisoners were killed one by one on a hand hay cutter. At last the girl was brought forward and asked the question again. As she would not yield, she was also killed in the same way at the age of fourteen. She was the youngest Party member.

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    76. Yan Shanshan (the first female movie star in China)

    Yan Shanshan (1896—1952 ) was the first female movie star in China and also a member of the female bomb squadron during the revolution against Qing dynasty in 1911.
    When she was in Hong Kong Yide Normal School, she got acquainted with Li Minwei (1893—1953) and on 1931 she was married to him. Then she and her husband founded the Hong Kong Meihua film Company, and in 1914, they made the movie called Zhuang Zi Tests his Wife. Zhuang Zi (369—286 BD) was an ancient scholar, who had a book collecting his articles. There was a story about how he tested the faithfulness of his wife to him. Once he feigned to be dead ad buried in a grave. Before his death, he told his wife that she could remarry if the earth on his grave was dry. Then his wife stayed by the side of his grave and fanned the earth in the hope that the earth would be dry faster than normally.
    In this movie she played the role of a maid of the wife, and her husband acted the wife. All the female roles in the movie before were played by males in disguise. That was why she was deemed the first female movie star. Afterwards, she joined Shanghai Xinmin Film Company and starred in Goddess of Peace (1926), Five Revengeful Girls in 1928, and Reviving Romance in the same year. She gave up acting in that year.
    Yan Shanshan was never a jealous woman. On the contrary, when in 1919, she met Lin Chuchu (1904—1979), another actress, she voluntarily introduced her to her husband and let her be another wife of Li Minwei. Li and Lin had formal wedding ceremony on the seventh of January in 1919. In old China it was lawful to have two wives at the same time. Both wives had the equal status in the family. In 1924, Li and Lin starred the movie Rouge as the male and female main characters. So Lin became a movie star, too. Yan died in 1952 at the age of fifty-six.

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    77. Wang Hanlun (from a movie star to a business woman)
    Wang Hanlun (1903—08/17/1978) was one of the earliest female movie stars in China. She was born in a big official family in Suzhou city. Then they moved to live in Shanghai. She was early educated in St. Mary's Hall, a female school run by the church in Shanghai. After the death of her father, at the age of sixteen, her brother forced to discontinue her schooling and arranged for her to marry an official, who had the adultery with a Japanese woman not long afterwards and deserted her. She had to teach in a primary school in Hongkou district of Shanghai for her living. Then she worked as a clerk in British-American Tobacco Co. (hk) Ltd., and then as a typist in Siming Foreign Firm, where she knew a female colleague, who was also a shareholder of Mingxing film company. As the colleague knew that she liked filming, the colleague took her one day to see the conductor, who was just looking for a female star for his movie. He told her to perform some actions and make some expressions on the face like smiling, angry, sad and happy. He thought that she was okay to be a star and signed a contract with her. Thus, she began her acting career.
    Therefore, she resigned from her typist job. When her brother learned it, he was angry and wanted to send her back to their hometown Suzhou to punish her by family rules. In old families in that time, there were family rules to punish their sons and daughters who had done something against the rules or even the will of elders. But it was republic now. So Wang Hanlun declared to stop her relationship with the family so that they could not punish her by the family rules.
    Her original name was Peng Jianqing. Now as she severed herself from her family, she changed her name to Wang Hanlun. The self-given name was really taken from Helen by sound, but in Chinese characters. So you can pronounce Hanlun as Helen.
    The Mingxing Film Company was founded in 1922. The movie Wang had a role in it was called An Orphan Rescues His Grandpa. The movie was on in 1924 to the warm applause of the public. She then acted in other three successive movies. She became so well-known to the public that another film company, Changcheng Film Company, came to ask her to work for them and pay her more. She then transferred to that company. For this company, she filmed Deserted Woman and others. But this company did not pay her more, and her complaints came of no avail. She went to work for another company, Tianyi Film Company. As all the film companies paid her not to her satisfaction, she founded a film company of her own called “Hanlun Film Company.” She acted in a movie named Blind Love. All her movies had a tragic end. So she was nicknamed “first tragic star on the screen.” During the recess, she would go on the stage to greet her audience, which got her a lot of fans.
    In 1931, she gave up filming and changed her aim to business. She opened a beauty shop in Shanghai. She was one of the first women who studied the beauty culture in China. When Shanghai was occupied by Japanese army, she had to close the shop. When the Japanese wanted her to work for them, she refused on the pretense that she was sick. So she lived in a poor condition by selling her belongings. In 1945 when Japan surrendered, she wanted to resume her acting. But as she went to a filming company, the owner rejected her, implying that she was too old. She was then in her forties.
    In 1950 when CPC took reign over the mainland, the Kunlun Movie Company invited her to the role of Empress Dowager Cixi in the movie Legend of Wuxun. When Shanghai Film Factory was founded, she was given a job there and got salary as a clerk of something. But she was still assigned some side roles. When the Cultural Revolution began, though she was retired, the red guards came to her home and took away all the old films she kept for so long. She died of disease on the seventeenth of August in 1978 in the hospital.

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    78. Zhang Zhiyun (the first movie queen in China)

    Zhang Zhiyun (1904—1975) was the first movie queen in China. She was born in Fanyu town of Guangdong province and in childhood, moved to Shanghai with her family. When her father died, her family fell into financial difficulties. Therefore, she had to cease her education in the middle school.
    At the beginning of 1924, Dazhonghua Film Company was founded and they put an advertisement on the newspaper, “Actresses wanted.” The application letters with a photo must be sent to the newspaper's mail box. Ten days later, they received about ten thousand female photos, but none of them were suitable. Then they found that a reporter working there secretly opened all letters and hid whatever photos he liked. After negotiation, he returned ten photos. Zhang's photo was one of them.
    She was chosen and acted in two silent films, successfully. In 1925 she went to work for Mingxing Film Company. In 1926, the newspaper held an activity to vote for movie queen. Twelve actresses joined in it. Zhang was the first by getting 2146 votes. So she was the first movie queen in China.
    She then participated in parties of the upper social circle and became to know Tang Jishan, a tea salesman. In 1927, she gave up her filming and went with him to America to sell tea. Tang just wanted to use her title of movie queen as his spokeswoman to advertise his products. But he did not know that American people never heard of the movie queen in China. So he failed and had to take her back to China. In 1931, he deserted Zhang and lived together with another movie star.
    Then came the ages of sound film. As she could not speak mandarin, she had seldom any contracts. In 1933, she tried to act in a sound film and in 1935, in another sound film called New Peach Fan. But the audience did not acknowledge her success. She had to retire from filming circle again. In forties she got married and in fifties, she moved to live in Hong Kong till she died there.

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    79. Xuan Jinglin (first actress with a private car
    and showing her bare legs to the public in China)
    Xuan Jinglin (1904—01/22/1992) was born in Shanghai. Her father was a newspaper vendor. She went to the school run by Moore Memorial Church in Shanghai for free. As she could not stand the bully of the students coming from rich families, she gave up the schooling and went to learn Peking opera, because her uncle was the accountant in a theater, where Peking operas were performed. When her parents and elder brother fell sick, she was sold to a brothel for money for her family when she was still young. In the brothel she met a young man, who loved her, but his parents would not let him marry a prostitute.
    Therefore, she started to save money her patrons gave her as gifts to redeem herself from the brothel. The bawd found it and took all her saved money away. She could do nothing about it. A poor young girl. By chance, she was found by the conductor of Mingxing Film Company. They had a new screenplay called Last Consciousness. The girl was fit for the role. They could not find other girls fit for it. Therefore, the company paid the money to the bawd for her redemption. She became a movie actress. That was in 1923. This movie was on in 1925.
    Then she acted for the role of a whore in another movie called A Woman in Shanghai, which won her a great fame, as she acted from her won experience. She earned a lot of money and bought a car for herself. She was the first woman that had a car for her own use only. And she was also the first woman actress in China that showed her bare legs to the public.
    The young man still loved the girl, especially she was now a famous movie star. Yet his parents rejected their marriage owing to the girl's whore background. Therefore, the conductor of the film company went to see the parents and persuaded them to accept the girl. Although the parents agreed to their marriage, they had some conditions. Firstly, there was no wedding ceremony. Secondly, the girl could not live in the house of the parents. The new couple had to rent a separate house. But there were always rumors about movie stars. And the husband often suspected her of something. Finally they divorced.
    She filmed thirty-five movies. Another movie was The lady's Fan in 1928. Then when she grew old and there appeared more younger female actresses, she gradually faded from the screen. When CPC ruled over the mainland, Shanghai Film Factory was founded, and she was invited to act in the movie Family in 1956. She died in 1992 at the age of eighty-eight.

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    80. Hu Die (first actress in China attending international film festival and getting award)
    Hu Die (03/23/1908—04/23/1989) was born in Shanghai and when she was nine, the family moved to Canton. She went to Pooi To Middle School. In 1924, when she was sixteen, the family moved back to Shanghai. That year, the movie An Orphan Rescues His Grandpa was on. It touched audience, including the young Hu Die. So she set her heart on being an actress. She signed up as a candidate in Shanghai China Film School, which was the first such a school in China. She learned drama, film theory, and performing. She liked performing, and next year she was given a role in Exploits, which was her first movie.
    She acted in more than twenty movies with different film companies. Her master piece was Twin sisters. She acted both sisters with different life experience, characters, and social status. It was so successful that it got the highest seat occupancy rate at the time.
    When September 18th Incidents took place, a misfortune befell Hu Die. At the time she went with the filming crew to Peking. Coincidentally, the general Zhang Xueliang (see above) was also in Peking. That time, people in northeastern China were furious against the Japanese invaders. To transfer the anger of the Chinese people from Japanese to someone else, Japanese news agency spread a rumor that on the night of the incidents, Zhang was dancing with Hu Die. According to logic, Zhang should be fighting the invaders right on the night as northeastern China was his defending area. The rumor meant that Zhang neglected his duties. So people turned against Zhang and against Hu Die, too. Although she made a declaration openly on newspapers, there were still doubts.
    On the New Year's Day of 1933, for the development of the filming business, the Daily Star of Shanghai proposed an activity to vote for female star queen again. Hu Die won the title by getting 21334 votes. She won another star queen title in 1934. In 1935, Russia held an international film festival in Moscow, Hu die was invited to attend. She was the only female movie star that was invited.
    In November of 1937, when Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese army, they took over the film company. So no film was made anymore. As the husband of Hu Die was in Hong Kong, she went there to join her husband. On the twenty-fifth of December in 1941, Japanese army occupied Hong Kong. In order to gain the support of Hong Kong people, especially of some famous people there, the Japanese asked Hu Die to act in the film Hu Die travels in Tokyo. However, Hu Die declined on the pretense that she was pregnant. On the twenty-fourth of November in 1942, Hu Die stole out of Hong Kong and went to Chongqing city, the temporary capital of the Chinese government at the time.
    Soon she was under the control of Dai Li (05/28/1897—03/17/1946), the chief of the bureau of investigation and statistics of the military council of KMD. Dai always adored the beautiful movie star and wanted her to be his mistress. He even wanted to marry her. But he had an air crash in 1946. So she was free from him and went back to Hong Kong. She began to act in several films. In 1949, her husband died. Then she stopped filming for ten long years. In 1959, she recommenced to act in several films in Hong Kong or Taiwan. In 1960, on the Seventh Asian Film Festival held in Japan, she won the award of the best actress in the movie called Back door. She got the title of Asian star queen at the age of fifty-two. In 1966, she retired from the screen and lived in Taiwan. In 1975, she immigrated to Vancouver in Canada, and died there in 1989. Her last words were, “The butterfly will fly away.” The pronunciation of her name Hu Die literally meant Butterfly.

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    81. Li Minghui (an actress in movie and on stage)
    Li Minghui (06/1909—12/09/2003) was born in Shanghai. Her father was a famous composer and founded a Song & Dance Ensemble. So as a child, she could sing and dance. At the age of twelve, she began to step up on the stage to sing and she had more than fifty gramophone records as a singer. Her master piece of songs was called Drizzle.
    At the age of thirteen, she got her first role, a supporting role, in a film. In 1925, she got another supporting role. From 1925 to 1928, she acted main roles in Little Factory Owner, Transparent Shanghai, and Women, etc. Nine movies in all during that period of time. She also acted some children's plays such as Grape Fairy, and Sparrow and Kids, etc. As she often acted the role of a young girl, she got he nickname “Little sister.”
    In 1934, she married the famous football player at the time, who later went to Hong Kong to become a businessman. In 1937, she founded a nursery in Shanghai. When her husband died of liver cancer, she stopped acting career. In 1971, she was assigned the work of the secretary to take care of the daily life of the old curator of history museum. She died in a nursing home in Shanghai on the ninth of December in 2003.

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    82. Xu Lai (an actress nicknamed Oriental Beauty)
    Xu Lai (1909—04/1973) was born in Shanghai in a poor family. Therefore, she had to work in an egg factory run by a British businessman at the age of thirteen. Later as her family became better financially, she was able to attend school. At school, she was only a mediocre student , but began to like dancing. In 1927 when she was eighteen, she entered the China Song & Dance college. After graduation, she joined the China Song & Dance Ensemble, and married the founder of the ensemble, a Mr. Li. Then she headed the troupe to perform in Canton and Hong Kong. In 1928, the troupe went on the preforming tour abroad to Thailand, Singapore and Java, etc. Her great beauty and wisdom attracted large audience. She got the nickname “Oriental Beauty.”
    In 1933, she was invited to act in a silent film Late Spring. She acted the role of a romantic girl from a wealthy family. The girl was known as a campus belle in the college. So many rich boys came to court her, but at last she made sacrifice for true love. There was even a scene of her in the bath. At that time, such a scene caused severe criticism from old prigs. Anyway, she became welcome and well-known. She received so many letters from her fans that she had hired a female secretary to help her to handle the letters. She was the first movie star in China that had a secretary. In 1935, she acted in the film called Boat Girl. That year, another famous movie star committed suicide. She was so shocked that she gave up filming for ever.
    Then she got acquainted with a man Tang. She divorced Li and married Tang. She and Tang lived in Shanghai till 1949. During their stay, Shanghai was controlled by Japan. Tang came from a family of big landlord and spent money freely. He moved among those Chinese pro to the Japanese. So Tang was deemed as a traitor to Chinese people. But after the surrender of Japan, he revealed his true identity as a secret agent from KMD. So he was a patriot instead of a traitor. In 1949, they moved to Hong Kong. In 1950, Tang went to join the CPC's army and became a general. Tang and the army went south to fight with KMD's army. In 1956, he went to Beijing to work there. So Xu Lai went to live there. In the so-called great cultural revolution, she and her husband were put in jail. It was because when she was in Shanghai as an actress, she knew a lot of the scandals of Jiang Qing, Mao's wife. Almost all actors and actresses who had been in Shanghai at the time were persecuted. Xu was tormented in prison and she died in April of 1973 at the age of sixty-four.

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    83. Yuan Lingyu (died early and had largest funeral internationally)
    Yuan Lingyu (04/26/1910—03/08/1935) was born in Shanghai. She reached the highest level of acting arts in the time of silent films. Her father died when she was only six years old. She lived with her mother. At the age of eight, she entered Shanghai Shung Tak Female School. She was clever and studied hard. She was one of the best students so that she was often chosen to attend singing and dancing performances. She thus developed her interest in acting.
    In 1926 when she was sixteen, she was admitted to Shanghai Mingxing Film Company and began her filming career. Her maiden movie was Couples Only in Name, and others. In 1928, she went to work with another film company and acted in six movies. In 1930, she worked for still another film company. She had the main role in Three Modern Females. She acted in twenty-nine movies all her short life.
    On the eighth of March in 1935, at the age of twenty-five, she made suicide by taking too much sleeping pills. The reason for it was that her husband often ill-treated, even beat her. She could not endure it any more. When the husband found her taking too much sleeping pills, he did not send her to the nearest hospital for treatment immediately, he was first considering whether her suicide would harm his reputation. So he took her to a Japanese hospital far from home. But this hospital did not have emergency room. He then took her to a private clinic of his friend's. But this clinic could not do it. Finally he took her to a big hospital at eleven in the next morning after so many hours. Her life was not saved.
    Her early sad death shocked Shanghai and her fans when newspapers reported it. At the funeral ceremony, even three of her fans made suicide on spot. They left their will, saying that when Yuan was gone, there was no reason for the trio to live in this world. Three hundred thousand people attended her funeral and the procession lasted three li (one and half a kilometer). Next day, the New York Times had the headline like this “The recent largest funeral internationally.”

  15. #90
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    84. Jiang Qing (Mao's fourth wife)
    Jiang Qing (03/05/1914—05/14/1991) was born in Zhu Town of Shandong province. Her original name was Li Yunhe. Her father Li Dewen opened a carpentry shop. Her mother was his concubine, who had been a maidservant. (She might be hired by Kang Sheng, later a communist party member in YanAn.) In the summer of 1921, Jiang Qing studied in a primary school, but in 1926, was expelled by the school. Her father died of some disease in the same year and her mother took her to live with her brother-in-law in Tianjin city, who was an officer in the army of the warlord Zhang Zuolin (03/19/1875—06/04/1928), who ruled the northeastern China. Jiang Qing had worked for three months as a child laborer in the factory of British-American Tobacco Co., Ltd.
    In 1928, the troop of the brother-in-law moved to somewhere else, and her mother took her to live with her cousin in JiNan city of Shandong province. In spring of 1929, when she was fifteen years old, she learned to be an actress in a theater in the city. In May of 1931, she married a man from a wealthy family, but got divorced in July. Then she went to Qingdao city, close to the East Sea. From July of 1931 to April of 1933, she worked in a library there.
    But in February of 1932, at the age of eighteen, she lived with (not married to) Yu Qiwei, three years older than she. He was a university student, majoring in biography, who was also the leader of the propaganda department of the communist party there, and had contact with those in the circle of so-called communist culture. She had acted a one-scene play named Put down your whip, which could be performed in the street in protest to the Japanese aggression. In February of 1933, she took oath and joined the communist party through Yu Qiwei in a warehouse in Qingdao city.
    In April, Yu was arrested and she ran away to Shanghai. In May of 1933, she attended The Great China University as an auditor student. In July she worked as a music teacher in a primary school in the western suburb of Shanghai, and acted in some amateur plays after work. In September of 1934, she was arrested, but in February, 1935, she was released and went to Peking to live with Yu Qiwei again, who had been released, too. But in March, she returned to Shanghai to join the Diantong Film Company, using her stage name Lanping. She acted the heroine in the play Nara, and got good comments. Afterwards, she played some roles in two movies. In September, she lived with Tanner, a movie commenter. In April of 1936, she married Tanner. The ceremony was held together with other two couples, before Liuhe Pagoda in Hangzhou city in the moonlight. A romantic ritual. As she still kept in touch with Yu Qiwei, in July, Tanner could not bear it and committed suicide in vain.
    Then She went back to Shanghai and joined the Lianhua Film Company. She had a role in the film Blood on Wolf Mountain. In February of 1937, she acted in the drama Thunderstorm. On the thirtieth day of May, Tanner attempted the second suicide, but still of no avail. Afterwards he went to France and lived there forever. In July of 1937, as the Anti-Japanese War broke out, she left Shanghai, and in August, she arrived in YanAn and changed her name to Jiang Qing. In November, she was enrolled in the Anti-Japanese Military and Political University.
    On the tenth day of April in 1938, the Lu Xun Arts College was founded and she was appointed the instructor of the drama department. She acted in two dramas, and in August, acted in a Peking opera. Her efforts were appreciated and soon afterwards, she was promoted to be the secretary in the office of the military committee, close to Mao now. It was said that she often went to see Mao and asked for instructions from him. The intimacy changed their relationship and soon she lived with Mao, in place of his current wife He Zizhen, who was studying in Moscow, Soviet Union, at the time. In 1939, she married Mao. But at the time, she had not been divorced to Tanner yet and Mao had not been divorced to He Zizhen yet. Both committed bigamy.
    Therefore, quite a few communist party leaders opposed the marriage. Zhang Wentian was the chief opposer, who maintained his opinion that He Zizhen was a good comrade and must be respected as a legal wife. Besides, She had been hurt in the long march and could not be ignored like this. Wang Shiying had been in Shanghai and knew all the love affairs of Jiang Qing, which were really scandals. And as the chief leader of the communist party, Mao should not marry a woman with such scandals. So he wrote a letter about the scandals. He asked Nan Hanchen to sign the letter, too, who also worked in Shanghai and knew all these. (both were persecuted to death by Jiang Qing in the cultural revolution.) Only Kang Sheng (1898—1975) supported their marriage.
    Then the communist party had a meeting and put up three conditions: 1) Jiang Qing should not interfere with political affairs; 2) Jiang Qing could not take any office inside or outside the communist party; 3) Jiang Qing's main task was to look after Mao in his health and personal life.
    When CPC reigned the mainland, she was a member of National Movie Advisory committee and the head of movie bureau of the propaganda department of the central committee of CPC. In 1963, under Mao's secret instruction, she raised up the leftist thinking in name of Beijing opera revolution as she had learned how to play Beijing opera. She created eight so-called model Beijing operas. All the old things and classics were forbidden.
    In May of 1966, she was appointed the vice leader of central cultural revolution group, and then the proxy leader. At the ninth and tenth national CPC conference, she was appointed a member of the central political bureau of CPC. She instigated the red guards to criticize many old CPC cadres. She secretly instructed her followers to persecute actors and actresses, who knew her scandals in Shanghai and most of whom were tortured to death. In 1971, after the Lin Biao's Incident, she and Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan formed the so-called gang of four. They wanted to seize the power out of the remaining old cadres and ruled China all by themselves. But they failed with the death of Mao.
    On the sixth day of October in 1976, the gang of four were respectively arrested. In July of 1977, she was expelled from CPC at a CPC central meeting. During the period from the twentieth day of November in 1980 to the twenty-fifth day of January in 1981, the gang of four respectively got verdicts. Jiang Qing was sentenced to death, but got two years' probation. Then the sentence was reduced for life. On the fourteenth day of May in 1991, during her release on medical parole, she made her suicide.
    Jiang Qing had a daughter with Mao, born in 1940 and called Li Na, who is alive now in her retirement.

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