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Curtain falls on actress Chang Mei-yao's final act at 71
【Culture】2012-04-12  20:13:35
Taipei, April 12 (CNA) Chang Mei-yao, an iconic Taiwanese actress adored as "The Forever Formosa Lady," died in Taipei on April 1 at the age of 71, her family said in a statement Wednesday.

Chang's two daughters issued the statement via Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS) after holding a funeral for their mother earlier in the day.

"We have chosen to break the news about our mother's passing after her funeral in accordance with her wishes," Chang's daughters Ko Yi-shan and Ko Pin-yin said in the statement.

Describing their mother as a self-effacing, unassuming person, the Kos said their mother wanted to leave the world peacefully and quietly instead of bothering anyone to attend her funeral.

They also said their mother had often mentioned her heartfelt gratitude for all the support and assistance she received throughout her career from many film industry executives, colleagues and fans.

"Their love and concern helped enrich our mother's life," the daughters said.

The statement did not mention the cause of Chang's death.

A United Daily News (UDN) report said a TV drama series producer had planned to invite Chang to appear in a weekly production currently being aired on Formosa TV, but had dropped the idea after learning that the actress required dialysis three times a week.

Film director Liang Hsiu-shen said he was told that Chang was in poor health.

"I tried to contact her, but she didn't return my phone calls. We had been out of touch for more than a year," Liang said. "She was a very nice woman and always very considerate of others -- I'll miss her a lot."

Chang's ex-husband Ko Chun-hsiung, an award-winning veteran actor, did not seem to be aware of her death when a UDN reporter asked him for comments Wednesday evening.

The paper said Ko's daughters did not inform their father of Chang's death because they were disheartened by Ko's attitude toward their mother and the financial disputes between the two.

A native of Nantou County in central Taiwan, Chang was recruited by a local film studio soon after she graduated from junior high school. She became one of the few Taiwanese actresses in the movie industry in the 1950s.

As Taiwanese films went into decline, Chang joined a government-run studio and began to star in Mandarin-language movies. She emerged as a new Mandarin film sensation with her role as a beautiful aboriginal girl in Taiwan's first color film "Wu Feng" in 1962.

Riding on her popularity in Taiwan, Chang traveled to Hong Kong and Japan to star in films alongside famous Hong Kong and Japanese actors, which took her career to new heights.

Chang and Ko fell in love after they co-starred in the film "Her Puzzle" in 1967 and they tied the knot at a gala ceremony in Taipei in 1970. Despite her enormous popularity, Chang suspended her acting career after her marriage.

She did not return to the screen until 2002 when she starred in a PTS drama series. As she grew older, her tender, graceful image transcended the passage of time. In the period from 2002 to 2006, she was nominated four times for the Golden Bell best actress award for her moving performances in TV dramas, but never managed to snag the award.

In 2008, the organizing committee of the Golden Horse Film Awards, the Taiwanese version of Oscars, presented a special award to Chang in recognition of her lifelong dedication to the Mandarin film industry.

Chang formally divorced Ko in October 2004 after he got involved in an extramarital affair with a fashion designer, with whom he had a son.

Citing people close to the actress, media reports said that while Chang was often cast as a youthful beauty on the big screen in the prime of her career, she was a steady wife and good mother in her 35 years of marriage.

The reports said Chang returned to TV acting in her sunset years mainly because of financial reasons.

(By Zoe Cheng and Sofia Wu)
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