Fans commemorate 10th anniversary of Leslie Cheung's death

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 March, 2013, 6:56am

Hong Kong's music and film fans are expected to turn out in force tomorrow to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing's death.

Affectionately known as Gor Gor, which means older brother in Cantonese, the pop idol shocked Chinese communities around the world with his suicide on April 1, 2003. He was only 46.

When his body was found lying outside the Mandarin Oriental in Central, it brought to an end a life that had seen tremendous highs, but also crushing lows. It was a tragic conclusion to his legendary show business career as a singer and actor.

Cheung initially rose to fame as a Canto-pop singer in the 1980s after studying at Leeds University in England. His acting career took off in 1986 when he starred opposite Chow Yun-fat in John Woo Yu-sen's gangster movie A Better Tomorrow. Other film roles included Happy Together and Days of Being Wild, directed by Wong Kar-wai. But it was his decision as one of the few Asian stars who dared to play openly gay characters on screen that made his name.

In 1993, Cheung gained international acclaim for his portrayal of a gay opera singer in Farewell My Concubine. In the film he falls in love with a fellow performer. It was a global art house success.

Cheung later revealed he was bisexual, but that did not dent his popularity. In 2000, he was named Asia's biggest superstar by China Central Television. Even after his death, in 2005 he was voted favourite actor in 100 years of Chinese cinema.

In the final years of his life, though, he was plagued with severe bouts of depression brought on by his fame and attacks on his sexuality, which eventually lead to his death. But for the likes of Ginice Chow, who is a member of Cheung's fan club, Red Mission, he will always remain an icon.

Since the mid-80s Chow has been a huge fan of Cheung and says rather than being forgotten, his popularity has actually grown over the past 10 years.

"A new generation of young fans in Hong Kong are listening to his music now," she said. "As well as this, his films, such as Farewell My Concubine, have been finding a new audience over the years, too. He's now known by even more people as a singer and an actor. It means his spirit will continue to live on, no matter what."