Anita Mui re­mem­bered

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By LIM CHIA YING en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

EX­ACTLY 10 years ago to­day, the Asian showbiz world mourned and grieved when one of its beloved su­per­stars, Anita Mui Yim Fong, passed away at the un­timely age of 40 af­ter los­ing a bat­tle with cer­vi­cal can­cer.

The news broke out on Dec 30, 2003, shock­ing her le­gion of fans across the con­ti­nent. It had only been three months since Mui pub­licly an­nounced her ill­ness and re­as­sured sup­port­ers of her vow to fight till the end. But that solemn prom­ise to “pull through” never ma­te­ri­alised, as Mui’s con­di­tion took a turn for the worse. She died that same day, leav­ing her fam­ily, friends and fans in tears.

For those who per­son­ally knew the ta­lented artiste, they have only praises and kind words for Mui, who was not only the con­sum­mate per­former on stage, but also a good and gen­er­ous soul who would not hes­i­tate to help a friend in need. She was known for her char­i­ta­ble acts as well, hav­ing con­trib­uted undis­closed sums to dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions and causes and even es­tab­lished her own Anita Mui True Heart Char­ity Foun­da­tion in 1993.

In the 40 short years that Mui lived, she left an al­most un­touch­able and in­deli­ble legacy, one that many of to­day’s artistes find hard to keep up with, much less sur­pass. Her unique con­tralto vo­cal range and most no­tably, the chameleon­like trans­for­ma­tions – she could slip into an ou­tra­geous cos­tume or ap­pear look­ing like the girl-nextdoor so ef­fort­lessly – were def­i­nite- ly a breath of fresh air for fans.

There were the sig­na­ture bold and raunchy moves, which fired up the imag­i­na­tion and upped the ante of ex­cite­ment for con­cert­go­ers. The the­atri­cal feast and ex­trav­a­gance were a treat for fans, as Mui would give her all in her shows, whether it was through her en­er­getic danc­ing and singing of up­tempo tunes or her heart­felt ren­di­tions of slow, melan­cholic bal­lads.

Born in 1963 in Hong Kong, Mui started singing at the age of four to­gether with her older sis­ter to help sup­port the fam­ily fol­low­ing the death of her fa­ther. In 1982, she emerged as the win­ner of Hong Kong’s New Tal­ent Singing Com­pe­ti­tion, beat­ing some 3,000 con­tes­tants in the process. She was only 19 then. The win proved to be her big break, as it soon paved the way for her in­volve­ment in the mu­sic in­dus­try and sub­se­quent dom­i­na­tion in the 1980s when she re­ceived many awards. Among her string of ac­co­lades are the “Most Pop­u­lar Fe­male Singer Award” for five con­sec­u­tive years at the Jade Solid Gold Awards in Hong Kong. Her im­pres­sive achieve­ment as a singer would also ex­tend to her act­ing chops – she had re­port­edly starred in 40-plus movies through­out her life.

One of the films, Rouge (to­gether with the late Leslie Che­ung who passed away that same year in April), earned her the Best Ac­tress nod in both Tai­wan’s Golden Horse Award in 1988 and in the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards for her fine por­trayal of a for­lorn ghost.

Mui’s other film suc­cesses in­clude Jus­tice My Foot (with Stephen Chow), Drunken Mas­ter 2 (Jackie Chan), July Rhap­sody (Jacky Che­ung) and Heroic Trio (Michelle Yeoh).

At the peak of her fame in 1991, Mui an­nounced her (pre­ma­ture) re­tire­ment from her singing ca­reer in an ef­fort to en­able new, up­com­ing artistes shine and take lead, es­pe­cially at awards cer­e­mony. Three years later, how­ever, she came out of “re­tire­ment” and re­sumed her ca­reer.

Her rags-to-riches life story with con­sid­er­able tri­umphs is an in­spi­ra­tion to many, though her tor­mented per­sonal life is plagued mostly by her “fail­ure” to find a life part­ner. The de­sire to get mar­ried is of­ten ex­pressed in the later stages of her con­certs where she would emerge in a white wed­ding gown, and also said to be doc­u­mented in her book Xian Dai Nu Ren Xin (Heart Of The Mod­ern Woman).

That un­ful­filled long­ing would ul­ti­mately deal a cruel blow to her life. Ap­par­ently, Mui had known of her tu­mour as early on as the year 2000, but her yearn­ing for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing child­birth had pre­vented her from re­ceiv­ing early treat­ment.

De­spite be­ing ill, a gritty Mui pushed on with for­ti­tude by hold­ing eight con­certs at the Hong Kong Coli­seum, just a month be­fore her demise. The “Madonna of the East” was a re­mark­able per­sona as many of her fans and friends would at­test to – from her sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the Hong Kong en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try to a per­son of great deeds that she will al­ways be re­mem­bered for.

A leg­end: Mui in her ex­trav­a­gant dress­ing that was one of her hall­marks.

Leslie Che­ung and Mui in Who’sTheWo­man,Who’sTheMan?

Mui and Stephen Chow in Jus­ticeMyFoot.

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