Chinese Small Wander

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Zhuo Xuan The Wandering Female Singer

 1918-1957

Mini Biography of Zhuo Xuan (IMDb)

Legendary Chinese actress and singer Zhou Xuan was born on 1 August (year of birth uncertain as either 1918 or 1920) in Jiangsu province, China and originally named Su Pu.

At 3, she was sold by her uncle (by deceit) to the Wang family and thereafter her name changed to Wang Xiaohong. Later she was sent to a Zhou family, and there her name again changed to adopt the new family name. The then Ms. Zhou Xiaohong joined the Mingyue singing troupe in 1932 (when she was around 12 or 13 years of age) where she adopted the stage name "Zhou Xuan" (Xuan meaning "beautiful jade" in Chinese). She started singing on radio and at 14 was selected as the second most popular female singer in China. She soon earned the nickname as "The Golden Voice".

In 1936, she starred in the movie Malu tianshi (1937) (Street Angel) which would bring her to fame. In the movie, she played a singer and sang what would become 2 of her most popular hits, "The Four Season Song"(Si Ji Ge) and "The Wandering Female Singer" (Tian Ya Ge Nu). She then began to earn a reputation both as an actress and a singer. And went on to make a total of 43 movies in her lifetime.

Reportedly, by her own confession, despite the many movies she acted in, she was unhappy with most of them. Her favorite remained her role in the "Angel". Other major works include, "Recall To Jiangnan", "Night Inn" and "The Secret History of the Qing Dynasty" (info on movie titles from China Radio International).

Her love life however was disappointing. She first married musician/composer Yan Hua and it ended after 8 years in 1941. However, she continued making stage, radio and film appearances during this time, in a total of 16 films between 1939 - 1941.

In 1946, after World War II she moved to Hong Kong to star in "Recall To Jiangnan" in which she played the roles of two different women at the same time. One an innocent country girl, the other a spoiled party-going girl.

From here on, her popularity increased and soon went beyond China and to South East Asia.

Around this time or shortly before, Zhou Xuan met Zhu Huaide, a cloth merchant and lived together in Hong Kong. When she became pregnant and thought of marriage, she began to realize that Zhu was insincere and announced their separation in the press.

She returned to the newly established People's Republic Of China in 1950 to star in "The Peaceful Pigeon", her last movie (one which she would never complete).

Later in Shanghai, she gave birth to her first son, Zhou Min.

Then came the third man in her life -- the art designer for "The Peaceful Pigeon". The love affair ended with her heart broken, and another son, Zhou Wei.

Thereafter, she suffered a nervous breakdown, and was regularly admitted to hospitals and mental institutions. She died on 22 September 1957, officially due to brain encephalitis.

Her songs remain popular to this day and have been remade by many other singers including greats like Taiwanese Queen of Love Songs, Cai Qin, the late Teresa Teng and the late Anita Mui.

Zhou Xuan is estimated to have recorded over 200 songs (114 of them for the movies) and was one of the first Chinese singers to sing with a microphone.

Several of her evergreen songs include "Shanghai Night"(Yeh Shanghai) and "When Will You Come Again" (He Ri Jun Zai Lai).

Her second son Zhou Wei has written a book, "Zhou Xuan's Diary", where he provided insights into the legendary singer's life which many didn't know.

In June 2004, Hong Kong director Kar Wai Wong announced he has planned a movie biographing this wonderfully talented actress and singer. Award-winning Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung and Chinese actress Jie Dong have been cast in the starring roles as the elder and younger Zhou Xuan respectively.

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