Leslie Cheung

Leslie Cheung

Cheung performing in 1997
Background information
Chinese name 張國榮 (traditional)
Chinese name 张国荣 (simplified)
Pinyin Zhāng Guóróng (Mandarin)
Jyutping Zoeng1 Gwok3wing4 (Cantonese)
Birth name Cheung Fat-chung (張發宗)
Born (1956-09-12)12 September 1956
Kowloon, British Hong Kong
Died 1 April 2003(2003-04-01) (aged 46)
Central, Hong Kong
Other name(s) Ge Ge (meaning "Older brother") (哥哥)[1][2][3]
Occupation Singer, actor
Genre(s) Cantopop, Mandopop
Instrument(s) Vocals
Voice type(s) Baritone
Years active 1977–2003
Parents Cheung Wut-hoi (張活海) (father)
Poon Yuk-yiu (潘玉瑤) (mother)
Ancestry Meizhou, Guangdong
Education Rosaryhill School
Norwich School (independent school)
Alma mater University of Leeds
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Cheung.

Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (born Cheung Fat-chung;[4] 12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003) was a Hong Kong singer and actor. He is considered "one of the founding fathers of Cantopop" by "combining a hugely successful film and music career."[5]

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.[6][7] 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,[8] and his 1984 hit song Monica was voted as Hong Kong's "Song of the Century".[9] He was honoured as "Asia's Biggest Superstar" at the 2000 CCTV-MTV Music Honours.[10]

Cheung won the 1991 Hong Kong Film Award (Days of Being Wild)[11] and the 1994 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award (Ashes of Time)[12] 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,[13][14] a Asia Pacific Film Festival Award, and a Venice Film Festival Award.[15]

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.[16]

Cheung was ranked as the favourite actor in the 100 years of Chinese cinema.[17][18] In 2010, he was voted the third "Most Iconic Musicians of All Time" (after Michael Jackson and The Beatles).[19] CNN considered Cheung as the "Most Beautiful Man from Hong Kong Cinema" and one of "Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time."[20][21]

Cheung committed suicide on April 1, 2003 by jumping off the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. A suicide note left by Cheung stated that he had been suffering from depression.


Cheung was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the youngest of ten children in a middle-class Hakka family. Cheung Wut Hoi (張活海), his father, was a fairly well known tailor, whose customers included American actors William Holden, Marlon Brando, and Cary Grant.[22][23][24] 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.[25] 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."[25]

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."[25] "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."[26]

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.[23][27]


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.[28]

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 (譚詠麟) 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 (吳宇森) A Better Tomorrow,[29] 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).[30]

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.[31]

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.[32][33]

Personal life

Though Cheung had never publicly declared his sexual orientation, he once said in a 2001 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 (毛舜筠) to marry me.", but was unsuccessful[34] He is also the only Hong Kong entertainer to admit their bisexuality.

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.[35]

Cheung responded to the question regarding lover, “In terms of lover, I think I can be a better friend than a lover. Because I am a workaholic. To share my romance, that person has to compromise something.” This statement was out during the interview following the release of Okinawa Rendezvous.[36]

Cheung was never married.

Charity work

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.[37] He was also a patron of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation (ECSAF), founded by veteran actress Josephine Siao (蕭芳芳). 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.[38]


He moved to Vancouver in 1990 and became a Canadian citizen by naturalisation.[39] He held a Canadian citizenship.

Death and legacy

Leslie Cheung leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel (right) located at the Central district, Hong Kong Island.
3rd anniversary of Cheung's death, in Central, Hong Kong, 2006
"Miss You Much Leslie" exhibition at Times Square (Hong Kong), April 2013

Cheung committed suicide on 1 April 2003 at 6:43 pm (HKT).[40] He leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island.[41] He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.[42][43][44][45][46][47]

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.[42][48][49][50][51][52] 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 (麥列菲菲) (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 (沈殿霞). 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.[53] 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.[54]

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 (張學友), Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (梁朝偉), Andy Hui (許志安), Leo Ku (古巨基), Chilam Cheung (張智霖), Vivian Chow (周慧敏), Kelly Chen (陳慧琳), Joey Yung (容祖兒), Grasshopper, and others performed at the concert at Hong Kong Coliseum. In addition, in 2013, Cheung's fans from around the world made 2 million orizuru cranes for the Guinness World Record as a tribute to the anniversary.[55]

On 12 September 2016, it's the anniversary of Cheung's 60th birth. Over a thousand of fans joined Florence Chan in the morning at Po Fook Hill Ancestral Hall (寶福山) for prayers. At night, Cheung's fans club, Red Mission organised "Leslie Cheung 60th Red Hot Birthday Party" to commemorate Cheung. It was an outdoor birthday party at Central Harbourfront Event Space with a big LED screen[56] projecting Cheung's past video clips, concerts, songs and pictures. Eason Chan (陳奕迅) as a member of Red Mission joined the party singing one of Cheung’s song “4 season” (春夏秋冬) as a tribute to Cheung.[57] In the same month, another fans club, United Leslie also celebrated the big day of this renowned star. United Leslie organised an exhibition and movie screening of Cheung's two selected movies in PMQ, Central of Hong Kong.[58]

Awards and nominations

RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards

Year Category Recipient Result
1984Top 10 Gold Songs"Monica"Won
1985Top 10 Gold Songs"Wild Wind" (不羈的風)Won
1986 Top 10 Gold Songs"Past Love" (當年情)Won
1987 Top 10 Gold Songs"Sleepless Night" (無心睡眠)Won
Best CDSummer RomanceWon
Sales Award (Best-Selling Album of the Year) Summer RomanceWon
1988 Top 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 Award HimselfWon
1999 Top 10 Gold Songs"Left Right Hand" (左右手)Won
Golden Needle Award HimselfWon
2000 Top 10 Gold Songs"Big Heat" (大熱)Won
2002 Silver Jubilee AwardHimselfWon

Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards

Year Category Recipient Result
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
1986 Top 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
1987 Top 10 Gold Songs"Sleepless Night" (無心睡眠)Won
Gold Song Gold Award (Best Song of the Year) "Sleepless Night" Won
1988 Top 10 Gold Songs"Silence is Golden"(沉默是金)Won
Top 10 Gold Songs"Closer" (贴身)Won
Most Popular Male ArtistHimselfWon
1989 Top 10 Gold Songs"Starting from Zero" (由零开始)Won
Most Popular Male ArtistHimselfWon
1999Honours AwardHimselfWon
2000 Four Channel Award (Best Album of the Year)UntitledWon
Honours AwardHimselfWon

Other music awards

Year Award Category Recipient Result
1988Ultimate Song Chart Awards Ultimate Male Artist Gold AwardHimselfWon
1989Ultimate Song Chart Awards Ultimate Male Artist Gold AwardHimselfWon
Ultimate Song Chart Awards IFPI AwardSide Face (側面)Won
1999Ultimate Song Chart Awards Ultimate Song Award (No. 1 Song of the Year)"Left Right Hand"(左右手)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 Honours Asia's Biggest SuperstarHimselfWon
2001Chinese Pop Music Media Awards Best Male SingerHimselfWon

Hong Kong Film Awards

Year Category Film Result
1983Best ActorNomad (烈火青春)Nominated
1988 Best ActorA Better Tomorrow 2 (英雄本色2)Nominated
Best Original Film SongA Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂)Nominated
1989 Best ActorRouge (胭脂扣)Nominated
1991 Best ActorDays of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)Won
1994 Best Original Film SongThe Bride With White Hair (白髮魔女傳)Nominated
1995 Best ActorHe's a Woman, She's a Man (金枝玉葉)Nominated
Best Original Film SongHe's a Woman, She's a ManWon
1996 Best Original Film SongThe Phantom Lover (夜半歌聲)Nominated
1997 Best ActorViva Erotica (色情男女)Nominated
Best Original Film SongWho's the Woman, Who's the Man? (金枝玉葉2)Nominated
1998 Best ActorHappy Together (春光乍洩)Nominated
2003 Best ActorInner Senses (異度空間)Nominated

Golden Horse Awards

Year Category Film Result
1991Best ActorDays of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)Nominated
1993Best Original SongThe Bride With White Hair (白髮魔女傳)Won
1994Best Original SongHe's a Woman, She's a Man (金枝玉葉)Nominated
1995Best Original SongThe Phantom Lover (夜半歌聲)Nominated
1996 Best ActorTemptress Moon (風月)Nominated
Best Original SongTemptress MoonNominated
Best Original SongWho's the Woman, Who's the Man? (金枝玉葉2)Nominated
1997 Best ActorHappy Together (春光乍洩)Nominated
2000 Best ActorDouble Tap (鎗王)Nominated
2002 Best ActorInner Senses (異度空間)Nominated

Other film awards

Year Award Category Film Result
1991Asia Pacific Film Festival Best ActorDays of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)Nominated
1993Cannes Film Festival Best ActorFarewell My Concubine (霸王別姬)Nominated
1994Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards Best ActorAshes of Time (東邪西毒)Won
Japan Film Critics Society Best ActorFarewell My ConcubineWon
Venice Film Festival Best ActorAshes of TimeNominated
1996Cannes Film Festival Best ActorTemptress Moon (風月)Nominated
1997Cannes Film Festival Best ActorHappy Together (春光乍洩)Nominated

Ming Pao Power Academy Awards

Year Category Recipient Result
2000 Honorary AwardHimselfWon
Outstanding Male SingerHimselfWon
2002Best ActorInner Senses (異度空間)Won



See also


  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. http://www.redmission.org.hk/profile/profile.html
  5. 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
  6. "1988 JSG Best Ten Awards". TVB.
  7. "1989 JSG Best Ten Awards". TVB.
  8. "RTHK Classics Channel". Rthk.org.hk.
  9. 張國榮Monica入選世紀金曲 1999-11-22
  10. "Acts Honored at CCTV-MTV Show in China" (1 July 2000) Billboard.
  11. "List of Award Winner of The 10th Hong Kong Film Awards". Hkfaa.com.
  12. "List of Winners of 1994 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards". Filmcritics.org.hk. 17 February 1995.
  13. "In Competition Actors". Festival-cannes.fr.
  14. "In Competition Actors". Festival-cannes.fr.
  15. "Best Actor Award". Lesliecheung.cc.
  16. "Leslie Cheung's Popularity in Korea". Tw.twent.chinayes.com.
  17. "Cheung Tops Asia's CCTV-MTV Honors", AllBusiness.com, Inc.
  18. "'Farewell My Concubine' most appreciated in HK", China Daily
  19. "Michael Jackson: Your number one music icon". CNN. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 20 September 2010.
  20. Hottest Men from HK Cinema CNN
  21. Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time CNNGo 4 March 2010
  22. Kevin Thomas, "A Career In Full Plumet", Los Angeles Times, 22 June 1997, page 6
  23. 1 2 Michel Ciment, Hubert Niogret, "Interview of Leslie Cheung", Positif no. 455/1999, Berlin, conducted on 21 February 1998
  24. Chitose Shima, "Leslie Cheung Interview", All About Leslie, pp. 25–40, Saangyo Henshu Center Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1999, ISBN 4-916199-10-3
  25. 1 2 3 Corliss, Richard (30 April 2001). "Forever Leslie". Time. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  26. 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
  27. Chitose Shima, "Leslie Cheung Interview", All About Leslie, p25-43, Sangyo Henshu Center Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, 1999, ISBN 4-916199-10-3
  28. "Leslie Cheung Memorial Scholarship". Hkapa.edu. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  29. Lisa Oldham Stokes (2007). Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8108-5520-5.
  30. Yingjin Zhang; Zhiwei Xiao (2002). Encyclopedia of Chinese Film. London & New York: Routledge. p. 118. ISBN 0-203-19555-8.
  31. "Berlinale: 1998 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 14 January 2012.
  32. "Leslie Cheung's Beloved are sold more than 300,000", Min Pao Weekly, 28 Oct 1995, see
  33. Achievements of Leslie Cheung Archived 13 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. Corliss, R. (2001). "Forever Leslie", Time (Asia Edition). Retrieved 17 December 2005.
  35. "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.
  36. {https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ckXGoqnhw}
  37. 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
  38. 張國榮「護苗」出錢出力 2002-05-21
  39. Lisa Odham Stokes, Michael Hoover, City on fire: Hong Kong cinema, p. 363, 1999.
  40. 陳淑芬細說 哥哥最後電話, Apple Daily, 29 March 2013
  41. Corliss, R. (2003). "That old feeling: Days of being Leslie" Time magazine Asia Edition. Retrieved 17 December 2005.
  42. 1 2 Stephen Kelly, "WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS?" Leslie Cheung, 1956–2003", 8 May 2003
  43. "Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing commits suicide.", Hong Kong Entertainment News in Review (2003). Retrieved 17 December 2005
  44. "Actor Leslie Cheung 'found dead'", BBC, 1 April 2003
  45. "Activities to Commemorate Leslie Cheung", Xinhua, 2 April 2005
  46. Yu Sen-lun, "The Leslie Cheung Legend Lives on", TaiPei Times, 10 April 2003
  47. Bruce Einhorn, "Hong Kong: A City in Mourning", Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 14 April 2003
  48. "Leslie Cheung, Larger Than Life". Web.archive.org. 18 April 2008. Archived from the original on 18 April 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  49. "Jonathan Crow, "Leslie Cheung", AOL Allmovie". Movies.aol.com. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  50. "Leslie Cheung's Suicide" Gothamist, 3 April 2003
  51. "Week of 5 April 2003". "Life in Legacy. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
  52. "Forty Thousands Fans Farewell Leslie Cheung in the Raining Night", Modern Business News, 4 April 2003
  53. 李明皙. "Leslie Cheung's depression cause was biological, according to his sister". Big5.china.com.cn.
  54. "张国荣忧鬱揭秘 生前求助白龙王不果". Oriental Daily.
  55. Leslie Cheung's origami display delayed Yahoo!! Malaysia
  56. "Red Mission 繼續張國榮歌影迷國際聯盟". Red Mission. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  57. "Leslie Cheung is remembered on his 60th birthday". 12 September 2016. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  58. "Leslie Cheung Movie Screening". PMQ Hong Kong. 19 September 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016.

Further reading

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leslie Cheung.
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
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