Hong Kong Media Mogul Dies at 107; Run Run shaw Helped Popularize Martial-Arts Films in the West

Hong Kong Media Mogul Dies at 107

Run Run shaw Helped Popularize Martial-Arts Films in the West

JEFFREY NG And PRUDENCE HO

Jan. 6, 2014 10:46 p.m. ET

BN-AZ752_0107SH_H_20140106231124

Hong Kong film stars shown with Run Run Shaw in 1959. Associated Press

HONG KONG—Media titan Sir Run Run Shaw, who co-founded dominant broadcasterTelevision Broadcasts Ltd. 0511.HK -0.79% , died Tuesday morning at the age of 107, the company said.Sir Run Run was one of the key figures of Hong Kong cinema, helping popularize martial-arts films like “The One-Armed Swordsman” to Western audiences in the 1960s and ’70s through his legendary Shaw Brothers film studio.

At his height, Sir Run Run produced more than 40 films a year, in genres that included costume epics and modern action films, according to an official biography. His martial-arts films, such as 1972’s “Five Fingers of Death,” have earned a cult following among many fans in the U.S. and other Western markets. His movies influenced Quentin Tarantino, John Woo and other leading directors.

He was known affectionately as “Uncle Six,” because he was the sixth of seven children, and for his love for his many Rolls-Royce limousines.

In his later years, Sir Run Run delved into philanthropy, setting up the Shaw Prize in 2002 that began honoring individuals annually in 2004. The prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Asia, although it recognizes scientists from across the globe with each individual award valued at as much as $1 million.

But he will be best remembered in Hong Kong for his role in bringing free television to the city in 1967, providing entertainment to millions of residents at a time of considerable social unrest and rampant poverty. Residents spent many weekday evenings watching “Enjoy Yourself Tonight,” one of TVB’s longest-running variety shows.

Sir Run Run, one of the founding directors at TVB, served as executive chairman for three decades as the broadcaster grew to become one of the world’s biggest distributors of Chinese-language programming, while commanding a roughly 90% market share in Hong Kong’s free-broadcast segment.

 

Sir Run Run Shaw, left, and his wife, Mona Fong, shown in 2011. ZUMAPRESS.com

As he aged, Sir Run Run moved away from his regular work at TVB and in 2009 gave up his executive duties, serving as nonexecutive chairman, leaving his wife Mona Fong to oversee the broadcaster’s day-to-day operations. He was renamed chairman emeritus in 2012.

Through his privately held Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) Ltd., Sir Run Run was the biggest shareholder of TVB until 2011, when the company sold its 26% stake in TVB to a group of three investors that included HTC Corp. 2498.TW -1.87% Chairwoman Cher Wang and private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC.

Various official websites linked to his family business differ on Sir Run Run’s year of birth, saying that he was born in China in 1906 or 1907. Sir Run Run left school at age 19 to join his brothers’ film-distribution business, later moving to Hong Kong in 1959. He was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.

Sir Run Run is survived by his second wife, Ms. Fong, as well as two sons and two daughters from his first wife, who died in 1987.

 

Media mogul Run Run Shaw dies at 106

Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 9:53am

OBITUARY

Vivienne Chow vivienne.chow@scmp.com

Entertainment tycoon and philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw passed away peacefully at home in the company of his family on Tuesday morning, his flagship broadcast firm said. He was 106.

A TVB statement said he died at 6.55am. Local Chinese media said he was 107.

Shaw was instrumental in shaping Hong Kong media culture, co-founding the Shaw Brothers Studio, which produced more than 1,000 films since its establishment in 1958, and Television Broadcasts (TVB), Hong Kong’s first free television, in 1967.

“With his vision and energy, he had built the company to become Hong Kong’s premier television and a world leader in the Chinese-language television industry,” TVB said on Tuesday.

“Although we knew this day will come, no words can adequately express our sorrow and lessen our sense of a profound loss. He will be sadly missed by al of us in TVB. Out thoughts are with his wife, Miss Mona Fong, and his family,” it said.

Shaw attracted top talents to the station, the city’s largest film studio and television broadcaster, ushering in what many call the golden age of TV entertainment in Hong Kong.

Shaw in 1964, high on the success of his film studio. He would found TVB three years later. Photo: SCMP Pictures

In the battle for talent, there was one he famously could not snare: Bruce Lee. Despite having made an appearance in TVB in 1969, Lee eventually signed a two-movie deal with Golden Harvest, co-founded by Shaw’s former employee Raymond Chow.

According to Lee’s descendants, Shaw’s studio tried to “woo him away” repeatedly but Golden Harvest kept the kung fu star away from arm’s reach by sending him to Thailand for filming rather bringing him back to Hong Kong.

Liza Wang, a TVB veteran, on Tuesday praised Shaw for building Hong Kong into “Hollywood East” through his movies and TV productions.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying also expressed his condolences. “Sir Run Run had been sparing no efforts in promoting the development of entertainment business and made tremendous achievement,” he said.

“He also contributed to the development of education, science and charity in Hong Kong and the mainland. He was a senior whom I very much respect.”

The tycoon visits a film set by his studio in 1993. Photo: SCMP PicturesShaw was a well-known philanthropist who had a passion for education. Lawmaker James To recalled he once asked Shaw how many schools he had. “He then sank into deep thoughts for two minutes,” To said in a radio show this morning. “Then he said he had more than 4,000 schools.”

To said he had run into Shaw a few times on the MTR many years ago. “He was in his 80s. He said it was rush hour and he had to be on time,” To said.

Former TVB general manager Stephen Chan agreed that the tycoon had placed high emphasis on education. “Don’t think education is expenses. Education is investment,” he quoted Shaw as saying to a government official.

Shaw was known to be a keen practitioner of qigong, an exercise aligning energy and the body. Former TVB general manager Ho Ting-kwan said Shaw began practising qigong in his 60s and he did it first thing in the morning. He said he ate very little each meal and went to bed early, which was his secrets to longevity.

Shaw was received Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1974 and was knighted in 1977. In 1998, he received Grand Bauhinia Medal from the Hong Kong government.

He set up Shaw Prize in 2004 awarding scientists who have achievements in the areas of astronomy, mathematics and life and medical science.

Shaw, born on November 23, 1907, originally founded the Shaw Organisation with his brother in 1926 in Shanghai. Four years later, the firm became Shaw Studios.

He invested in many notable films, including Ridley Scott’s cult classic Blade Runner, according to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which gave him a Special Award just last month.

Back in its heyday, Shaw Brothers Studio made 40 films a year. The studio system was the largest of its kind in Asia. It also served as a cradle for some of the greatest filmmakers in the region and defined cinema in the 1960s.

King Hu’s Come Drink with Me (1966) became a new classic in the wuxia film genre. Li Han-hsiang’s historical drama Empress Wu Tse-Tien was invited to compete in Cannes Film Festival in 1963.

Kung fu master Lau Kar-leung, who passed away last year, directed a number of films under the studio, including The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, which inspired Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino’s features such as Kill Bill.

After a 44-year career, Run Run Shaw stepped down from all his TVB posts in December 2011. In March that year, he sold his entire 26 per cent holding in TVB to a group of investors for HK$6.26 billion.

He is survived by his wife, Mona Fong Yat-wah, with whom he had three sons and two daughters.

Hong Kong media mogul Run Run Shaw dies at 107

Mon, Jan 6 2014

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong mogul who created a media empire in Asia spanning movies to television, died on Tuesday at the age of 107, his company said.

Shaw died peacefully at his home in Hong Kong, surrounded by his family, his company, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), said in a statement.

“With his vision and energy, he had built the company to become Hong Kong’s premier television station and a world leader in the Chinese-language television industry,” TVB said.

One of Hong Kong cinema’s defining figures, Shaw popularized Chinese kung-fu films in the West and helped turn Hong Kong into a “Hollywood East” over an 80-year career.

He set up Hong Kong’s biggest free-to-air television operator, TVB, in 1967 and served as its executive chairman until 2011. He was then appointed chairman emeritus.

TVB’s television and entertainment empire remains a major influence on popular culture in Hong Kong and in overseas Chinese communities.

Run Run Shaw, Father of Hong Kong’s Movie Industry, Dies at 107

Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong media mogul and philanthropist whose movie studio exported Chinese cinema to a global audience in the 1960s, has died.

The founder of Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) Ltd. died at home at age 107 in the company of his family at 6:55 a.m. today, Television Broadcasts Ltd. said in a statement. Shaw was also a co-founder of Hong Kong’s biggest television company.

Shaw Brothers movies from the 1960s such as the kung-fu film “The One-Armed Swordsman” and the musical “The Kingdom and the Beauty” once accounted for more than half of Asia’s box-office receipts. “The Magnificent Concubine,” a picture about a Tang Dynasty beauty, became the first Chinese movie to receive an international award when it won a prize at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.

“Films are an art; they are also an industry,” Shaw said, according to a 1981 interview in Signature magazine. “Forget that a moment and you have a money loser in your hands.”

Shaw became chairman of Television Broadcasts in 1980. He stepped down in December 2011, after selling his controlling stake to a group of investors including HTC Corp. Chairman Cher Wang and ITC Corp. Chairman Charles Chan.

“With his vision and energy, he had built the company to become Hong Kong’s premier television station and a world leader in the Chinese-language television industry,” Television Broadcasts said in the statement today.

Silent Films

The sixth of seven children, Shaw was sent by his father, a prosperous textile trader, to study English in Shanghai. At 19, he joined his older brother Runme in Singapore to distribute silent films in the region.

After helping his brother build cinemas in the then-British colonies of Singapore and Malaysia, Shaw moved to Hong Kong, where movie production companies were hiring actors under exclusive contracts similar to those of Hollywood studios.

Shaw Brothers was established in 1958 and soon hired Raymond Chow, a U.S.-educated former Voice of America journalist who wound up running the company’s film production.

Shaw’s companies in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia have made more than 1,000 movies, with annual production peaking at 50 pictures in 1974, according to a 1997 biography by Chao Lan and Youpeng Zhan.

He copied Hollywood by setting up a permanent production site on 46 acres purchased from the British Crown government in Clearwater Bay, in eastern Hong Kong. At its opening in December 1961, Shaw Studios was the world’s largest privately owned film-production outfit, with about 1,200 workers shooting and editing films around the clock.

Small Screen

Shaw spent as much as HK$1 million ($129,000) a film, five times the local industry average, according to Shaw Brothers’ website.

“From the small screen, black-and-white movies, to the bigger screen, to color and from color to the talkies, every change was a big boom and I was able to take advantage of all of them,” said Shaw, in a 1990 interview with Choice Lifestyle.

In his prime, he would rise at 6 a.m., eat a breakfast of noodles and tea, practice Chinese calisthenics and read a script or two before heading to the studio in one of his Rolls Royce cars, according to a 1966 Life magazine profile. After lunch and a nap, he would return to the office to work until midnight.

Chow left Shaw Brothers in 1970 to start Golden Harvest Films, becoming a major competitor of Shaw Brothers. The market was moving away from Shaw’s trademark Chinese themes of loyalty and sacrifice and tapping a demand for martial arts movies with stars such as Jackie Chan.

Bruce Lee

As Shaw’s television business flourished, his movie unit floundered. Chow signed the young Bruce Lee for $7,500 a film after Shaw Brothers refused to budge from its standard $2,000-a-film contract for newcomers. Lee went on to make hits such as “The Big Boss” — titled “Fists of Fury” in the U.S. — for Chow’s studio.

After the decline of the Hong Kong film industry in the 1970s, Shaw looked to the U.S. for opportunities. In 1982, he invested in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” starring Harrison Ford, which became a cult classic.

Shaw married Mona Fong, a former singer, in Las Vegas in 1997, about 10 years after his wife, Lily, died. Shaw had hired the former singer as a procurement manager in 1969. By 1999, she was managing director and deputy chairman of Shaw Brothers.

Shaw had four children: sons Vee Ming and Harold, and daughters Violet and Dorothy. Runme Shaw died in 1985.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net; Simon Lee in Hong Kong at slee936@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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