Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014)


Hong Kong entertainment mogul, Sir Run Run Shaw (邵逸夫) passed away today at the age of 106. He is popularly known as ‘六叔’ (Uncle Six) in Chinese-populated regions in Asia Pacific. Still didn’t know who he is? Well, he was the founder of Shaw Brothers Studio, a very famous production company in Hong Kong and also one of the largest in the world. He also founded Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), the dominating television company in Hong Kong from its start to the present days for almost five decades. Not as a mean of disrespect, but I have been curious all the time as I find his name in English is a bit weird (called Run Run Shaw). Anybody could answer me that? Anyway, that’s not important. His success story is more important.

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Without him, there wouldn’t be Shaw Brothers, the company behind many past successful Hong Kong trademark films. Without him, there wouldn’t be TVB too, that offers us countless of Cantonese television programmes and dramas since almost half a century ago. Under his leadership in the past, both Shaw Brothers and TVB had also been acting as strong platforms to produce many Asian superstars till these days like Maggie Cheung, Chow Yun-fat, Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, Stephen Chow, Tony Leung, etc. As the ‘father’ of TVB and a pioneer of Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, his contribution was beyond boundary.

He was born in year 1907, at the time when emperor still rules the country. He initially started his business venture at Singapore to market films to Chinese community in South East Asia. That was in late 1920s. Then his business expanded to Malaya (now Malaysia, my country) with opening of over a hundred cinemas by 1940. He and his brother had also established Malay Film Productions in Singapore. That was his early years of success. By 1957, he went to Hong Kong which was the centre of the Chinese film industry at the time and established the Shaw Brothers a year later. From there on, he settled in Hong Kong. In 1960s, Shaw Brothers was noted as Asia’s biggest movie producer. In 1967, he co-founded TVB, the first free-to-air TV station in Hong Kong, and growing it into a multi-billion dollar TV empire. He had also established Shaw Prize, annual international awards  for scientists in three areas of research, namely astronomy, mathematics, and life and medical science. The prize, known as the ‘Nobel Prize of the East’ first started in 2004.

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He only retired in 2011 at the age of 104. To recognize and honour his contribution, he had been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1974 and received knighthood in 1977 from Queen Elizabeth II and the Grand Bauhinia Medal (GBM) from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in 1998. He had also been awarded several honorary degree from various universities. In 2007, in conjunction with his 100th birthday, he was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award at Hong Kong Film Awards. Just on December last year, he received the prestigious British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Special Award for his outstanding contribution to cinema.

I used to see him appearing on several TVB shows few years back, usually in awards ceremony and for the station’s anniversary gala celebration. He would be sitting on the front row (definitely) and was accompanied with former Miss Hong Kong pageant. In recent years, he was no longer attending these shows due to his old age. Well, he is certainly blessed to have live such a long and fruitful life. It’s so hard to live over 100 years old. That’s over a century. He must have witnessed a lot of things in his life. His death today must have been a heartbreaking news to countless Hong Kong artists whom individually found success under him. Nevertheless, his legacy as the ‘Godfather of the Chinese Silver Screen’ will be forever remembered. May he rest in peace.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

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