Lydia Shum

Lydia Shum
Background information
Chinese name 殿
Pinyin Shěn Diànxiá (Mandarin)
Jyutping sam2 din6 haa4 (Cantonese)
Birth name Lydia Shum Din-ha
Origin Hong Kong
Born (1945-07-21)21 July 1945[1]
Shanghai, China
Died 19 February 2008(2008-02-19) (aged 62)
Hong Kong
Other name(s) Fei-fei (肥肥)
Happy Fruit or Happy Nut (開心果)
Sister Fei (肥姐)
Occupation MC, actress, singer
Genre(s) Cantopop
Voice type(s) Contralto
Years active 1960 - 2008
Associated acts Four Golden Flowers
Spouse(s) Adam Cheng (1985-1988)
Children Joyce Cheng (b. 1987)

Lydia Shum Din-ha or Lydia Sum (Chinese: 殿; 21 July 1945 19 February 2008) was a Hong Kong comedian, MC, and actress known for her portly figure, signature dark rimmed glasses and bouffant hairstyle. She was affectionately known to peers and fans as Fei-fei (, lit. "Fat Fat" or "Fatty"). She appeared in numerous Hong Kong films and was an iconic TVB entertainer over forty years.[1] For a brief spell in the 1990s, Shum left TVB to work at rival ATV.

Early years

Shum was born in 1945 in Shanghai to Sung Shen Gee (; 1913–1978, with ancestral home in Shanpei, Ningbo) and Sung Tan Sun (; 1913–2008).[2] She entered the Hong Kong entertainment industry at the age of 13 in 1958.[1] She made her film debut in 1960, joining Shaw Brothers as a teenage actress at the age of 15. She took some time to adjust to Hong Kong as she found the Cantonese cuisine very different from that of her native Shanghai.[1]


Shum's last public appearance reuniting with the cast of Enjoy Yourself Tonight

While she worked at Shaw Brothers, her popularity grew and she became one of the first stakeholders in the up-and-coming TV broadcast station TVB. In 1967, Shum's stardom took off with the popular television variety show Enjoy Yourself Tonight. She first sang in the Cantopop group the Four Golden Flowers. Later, she played a Shanghai woman in the 1970s.[1] She also sang as the partner of Roman Tam from 1971 to 1973.

By August 1972 she was sufficiently regarded to be one of the first Chinese to ceremonially ride through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel on its opening day.[1] TVB general manager Stephen Chan has said that there was no substitute for Lydia Shum, and that every person who worked with her professionally eventually became well known in Hong Kong.[1] Her openness to appearing in sport bikinis and ballet costumes despite her weight earned her respect in image-conscious Hong Kong.[1]

Film work

Shum has been established mainly as a comic and dramatic actress but is not limited to films in those genres. Kung fu fans will recognize her from her role as Yuen Cheung-Yan's dominating wife in the film Drunken Tai Chi. She also appeared as Richard Ng's wife in the all-star comedy Millionaire's Express, as well as a major role in It's a Mad Mad World. Her 1997 film Fitness Tour is utilized her weight for its plot.

She took a leave from her movie career in 1997, and hosted a talk show in Hong Kong, along with numerous telethons and variety shows on TVB.[1] She returned to films in 2004 with the comedy In-Laws Outlaws.

Asia region

Shum starred in Singapore's Channel 5 sitcom Living with Lydia and Cantonese series like Slim Chances (我要Fit一Fit). Her performance in Living with Lydia won her the "Best Comedy Performance by an Actress" award at the 2003 Asian Television Awards. It was also the first time she had acted in an English sitcom with a multi-camera format though a laugh track was used.



Shum married actor and singer Adam Cheng Siu-chow in January 1985 after 11 years of cohabitation. Prior to the marriage, in December 1984, Shum was asked by her good friend Lee Xiang Qin to fly to San Francisco for the opening ceremony of Lee's shop. Shum, who was in Taiwan with Cheng at the time, was reluctant to do so initially, but three days later, Shum left for San Francisco. When she returned to Taiwan, she heard rumors that Cheng was having an affair. Upon being asked about this, Cheng denied having a relationship with another woman and suggested marriage with Shum. Shum believed that a marriage would deter any woman from becoming close to Cheng. On 5 January 1985, Cheng and Shum flew to Vancouver, Canada to get married.[1]

Due to the hurried circumstances of their marriage and Shum's size, there was insufficient time to prepare for a wedding gown, so Shum wore a Chinese cheongsam instead. Shum later said in a 2006 interview in Hong Kong that one of her greatest regrets was to not have put on a wedding gown for her wedding.


On 30 May 1987, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yee was born to Shum and Adam Cheng. Eight months after their daughter was born, Cheng and Shum divorced.[3]

Lydia Shum was the sister of fashion designer Alfred Sung.

Health problems and subsequent death

Shum suffered from several serious chronic ailments: cholangitis, diabetes, and hypertension. In 2002, she was admitted to the Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) in Hong Kong and had 36 gallstones extracted. In September 2006, Shum was diagnosed with a liver tumor and cancer around the gallbladder. Doctors immediately removed one third of her liver.[4]

Prior to a cholecystectomy done in 2002, she suffered bile duct inflammation in 1978 and again in 1989. On 22 September 2006, the inflammation recurred. Four days later, it had complicated her liver and she went into a coma until 1 October. Once again, on 29 January 2007, she entered the operating room to remove a liver tumor which weighed 2.7 kg. On 8 March 2007, the tumor was found to be growing so she had another cholecystectomy.

On 1 November 2006, a 24-year-old Indonesian domestic helper, Triyuliarti Yuyun, was convicted of violating the Hospital Authority Ordinance and sentenced to four weeks in jail. Yuyun entered a ward at the Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) on 1 October 2006 where Shum had been receiving treatment, and attempted to take photographs of Shum.[5] Later, it was confirmed that Yuyun was a domestic helper to one of the employees of the local magazine, East Week, but she had not been authorized to take photographs of Shum. East Week's senior management did not approve of the action and offered an apology to Shum. Magistrate Colin Mackintosh determined that Yuyun's actions were premeditated and done for financial gain and that the serious infringement of the patient's privacy warranted a custodial sentence. On that occasion, Shum was discharged from the hospital in July 2007.

On 11 October 2007, Shum collapsed at home with pleural effusion, and was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) for emergency treatment. Later that day, Shum was transferred to QMH.[4] She was discharged from that hospital on 16 October 2007.

Shum was admitted to the intensive care ward at QMH on 22 January 2008 and checked out four days later. Shum's mother died in Canada, while Shum was in the hospital. She was once again admitted to the intensive care ward at QMH on 2 February 2008, where her condition worsened. On 19 February, at 3am, her family decided that Shum's life support should be withdrawn.[1] It was decided that her breathing apparatus would be removed and that her family spend time with her by her bedside. Shum died at 8:38 a.m. (local time) on 19 February 2008.[1]

Prior to her death, she was known to be suffering from liver cancer which she had fought for two years. As part of the treatment for her illness, she underwent chemotherapy and several rounds of kidney dialysis treatment.

On 24 February 2008, escorted by her daughter Joyce, Shum's body was flown on a Cathay Pacific passenger flight from Hong Kong to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On 27 February, Shum was buried at Burnaby's Forest Lawn Memorial Park in a private ceremony.[6] Video footage of the funeral was played at a memorial event at the Hong Kong Coliseum on 2 March.[7]

Fei Fei Day was proclaimed for 1 June 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (which is Shum's lunar calendar birthday). Mayor Sam Sullivan proclaimed this memorial day in Vancouver on 26 February 2008, a week after Shum's death.[8]


  • The Lotus Lamp (1965)
  • Three Women in a Factory (1967)
  • Broadcast Queen (1967)
  • The Iron Lady Against the One-eyed Dragon (1967)
  • A Girl's Secret (1967)
  • Every Girl a Romantic Dreamer (1967)
  • Waste Not Our Youth (1967)
  • Unforgettable First Love (1967)
  • Lady Songbird (1968)
  • Happy Years (1968)
  • Four Gentlemanly Flowers (1968)
  • A Blundering Detective and a Foolish Thief (1968)
  • Won't You Give Me a Kiss? (1968)
  • Teenage Love (1968)
  • Wonderful Youth (1968)
  • We All Enjoy Ourselves Tonight (1968)
  • Moments of Glorious Beauty (1969)
  • The Little Warrior (1969)
  • Teddy Girls (1969)
  • To Catch a Cat (1969)
  • A Big Mess (1969)
  • One Day at a Time (1969)
  • Happy Times (1970)
  • The Mad Bar (1970)
  • The Invincible Eight (1971)
  • Songs and Romance Forever (1972)
  • The Private Eye (1973)
  • Love Is a Four Letter Word (1973)
  • If Tomorrow Comes (1973)
  • The House of 72 Tenants (1973)
  • The Country Bumpkin (1974)
  • Tenants of Talkative Street (1974)
  • Lovable Mr. Able (1974)
  • The Crazy Instructor (1974)
  • The Country Bumpkin in Style (1974)
  • Kissed by the Wolves (1974)
  • Pretty Swindler (1975)
  • Don't Call Me Uncle (1975)
  • Sup Sap Bup Dup (1975)
  • You are Wonderful (1976)[also director]
  • Love In Hawaii (1976)
  • The Great Man (1977)
  • Cat vs Rat (1982)
  • Drunken Tai Chi (1984)
  • The Millionaire's Express (1986)
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World (1987)
  • Mr. Handsome (1987)
  • Tiger on the Beat (1988)[cameo]
  • Double Fattiness (1988)
  • Mother vs. Mother (1988)
  • King of Stanley Market (1988)
  • Faithfully Yours (1988)
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World II (1988)
  • The Bachelor's Swan-Song (1989)
  • City Squeeze (1989)
  • Eat a Bowl of Tea (USA 1989)
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World III (1989)
  • Lost Souls (1989)
  • The Banquet (1991)
  • The Perfect Match (1991)
  • It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World Too (1992)
  • The Laughter of Water Margins (1993)
  • Perfect Couples (1993)
  • He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father (1993)
  • Just Married (1995)
  • Fitness Tour (1997)
  • Happy Together (1997)[2]
  • The Stamp of Love (2001)
  • Miss Du Shi Niang (2003)
  • In-Laws, Out-Laws (2004)
  • Where Are They Now? (2006)


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Television Broadcasts Limited TVB - Lydia Shum exclusive - 東張西望之永恆的開心果 - 肥姐 - 02-21-2008
  2. Sudden Weekly, Issue no. 656, 22 February 2008, cover page
  3. 與鄭少秋一笑泯恩仇 肥肥打算退出娛樂圈 (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
  4. 1 2 Nickkita Lau, Media scrum as Fei Fei rushed to intensive care, 12 October 2007
  5. "Maid jailed for filming sick Hong Kong actress". Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  6. Zacharias, Yvonne (2008-02-27). "Entertainer Lydia Shum laid to rest in Metro Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  7. Chan, Peggy (2008-02-21). "Shum to be buried in Vancouver". China Daily. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  8. "Vancouver honors "Fei-fei"". China Daily. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
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