Cantonese opera singer Tang Wing-cheung, who died last night aged 81, used the stage names Sun Ma Sze Tsang and Sun Ma Chai, but was more popularly known as 'King of Charity'. His charity concerts raised millions of dollars for the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Po Leung Kuk and other causes. Tang was born in Shunde, Guangdong, in 1916 and was forced to work from an early age. 'I went to school for two months but suddenly there was no more money for school fees and books,' he once said when asked how he started his stage career. 'By the time I was eight, I had learned a lot about life and realised that I must become self-sufficient if I wanted to survive,' By the time he was 10, Sun Ma Sze Tsang was a household name. He got the name because he adopted the singing style of opera singer Ma Sze-tsang. 'Sun' means new. Tang reminisced some time ago: 'People in their 50s or 60s can probably still remember those days. They used to say I was a prodigy. 'I spent five hours each evening acting and singing my heart out on stage. 'They always gave me the roles of young heroes and I played with all the Cantonese skills at my command.' When Tang was 13, his father took him to perform with another troupe in Saigon. He remained there for another year to improve his skills. At 18, he first forged his professional relationship with the Shaw brothers, who were establishing their entertainment empire at the time. Tang went to Singapore to perform in a theatre which the brothers owned. His performances moved to the silver screen and he appeared in a series of comic Cantonese films in the 1950s and 1960s, usually portraying a working-class figure with wide audience appeal. Tang's partners in the films included the late comic stars Tang Pik-wan and Cheng Kwan-min. He retired in the 1970s but continued performing for charity. His most famous appearance was on a live TVB broadcast in June 1972, when stars gathered to raise funds for victims of that year's massive landslides. Tang once said his greatest regret was that no young performers were emerging to take over from his generation on the Chinese opera stage. He was made a Member of the British Empire in 1978 for his philanthropic efforts and contribution to the performing arts. He returned to the spotlight in 1992 when he married his fourth wife, Hung Jin-mui. She was 47 and he was 76. The couple, who met more than 30 years earlier, already had two sons and two daughters. Tang had three previous marriages - the first two ended in divorce, while his third wife died during World War II. The last few months of Tang's life were clouded by a dispute between his fourth wife and their children over his estate. Tang and Ms Hung had two sons, Siu-chuen and Siu-wing, and two daughters Siu-ngai and Chui-yuk. Three older children from his first three marriages also survive him. Tang's fortune is estimated at nearly $1 billion. His assets included the 13-storey Wing Cheung Building in Wan Chai, apartments in Parkview, Kennedy Road, and Mid-Levels, about $100 million worth of antiques and jewellery, and various businesses including a record company and a restaurant. He reportedly sold some of his property in recent months to pay his medical fees.