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Film industry, lawmakers mourn death of actor Ko Chun-hsiung

2015/12/07 19:08:17

CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) Lawmakers and people from the film community are mourning the death of Taiwanese actor Ko Chun-hsiung (柯俊雄), who died of cancer at the age of 70 on Sunday.

Ko, one of the best known Taiwanese actors of his generation, died at the Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei after battling lung cancer for over a year, the hospital said Monday.

He was survived by four children, two of whom he had with his late ex-wife, actress Chang Mei-yao (張美瑤), and two of whom he had with his current wife Tsai Ching-hua (蔡青樺).

"Thank you Mr. Ko Chun-hsiung for your continuous contribution and care for Taiwanese cinema! We bid farewell to our eternal Golden Horse best actor," the Taiwan Film Institute wrote on its Facebook page on Monday.

Even though Ko was ill, he still participated in an event organized by the institute on Oct. 27 to support the preservation of Taiwanese films, according to the institute.

Screenwriter Chang Yung-hsiang (張永祥), who had cooperated with Ko since the start of his acting career, touted Ko's elasticity as an actor, saying the actor started out making Hokkien-language movies, but had no trouble switching to Mandarin films later on.

Ko was also able to master both hardcore martial arts films and romance movies, Chang told CNA.

Born in Kaohsiung on January 15, 1945, Ko's acting career spanned half a century, highlighted first by his leading roles in adaptations of best-selling romantic novels and then his portrayal of military heroes in China's war of resistance against Japan.

In 1968, he became the first Taiwanese to win the best actor award at the Asia Pacific Film Festival for his role in "Lonely Seventeen." He won in the same category at the festival seven years later.

Ko also won Taiwan's premium Golden Horse Award for best actor in 1979 and 1999 for his roles in "A Teacher of Great Soldiers" and "Cao Cao," respectively.

In 2004, Ko ran for a legislative seat as a Kuomintang candidate and was elected for the position. He ran for a second term in 2008 as a candidate for the Taiwan Farmers' Party, but lost the election and thus ended his political career.

Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), who served as a KMT legislator during the same term as Ko, touted his former colleague as a non-assuming and polite man who did not carry himself as a big star. He developed close friendships with many of the lawmakers, Chang said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) expressed his sorrow and regret over Ko's death, while KMT Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan (蔡正元) also remembered the actor by posting a message that said "Farewell, Ko Chun-hsiung!" on his Facebook page along with a photo of Ko.

Ko's management company called Ko's death a great loss for the Chinese-language entertainment community. It said Ko's families will announce his funeral arrangements after discussing the matter in private.

Ko had two marriages. In 1970, he tied the knot with actress Chang Mei-yao, with whom he had two daughters. Their marriage ended in 2004 because Ko had an affair with clothing designer Tsai Ching-hua, whom he met on a film set and with whom he had a son and a daughter.

In 2012, after learning of the death of his ex-wife, Ko broke down in tears and apologized for the mistakes he had made during their marriage, saying "it was all my fault."

Throughout his decades-long acting career, Ko played a variety of roles, ranging from national hero and gangster to rogue and ordinary citizen. He is known to have said "film is my life. Before I die, I will always be an actor."

(By Tsao Yu-fan, Wang Ching-yi and Christie Chen)