THE PATRIOT ACTOR – MASTER KWAN TAK-HING (1905 – 1996)
SON OF THE YELLOW EMPEROR
Humble Roots – born in 1905, into an improvised family in Kaiping County, Guangdong Province, at the end of the Chin Dynasty. At the age 8, with only 6 months of formal education, he had no choice but to become another faceless nameless member of the child labor force. Like all other child laborers, he did whatever was needed; water buffalo herder, farm hand, general labor, wax candle maker, and coolie transporter ( beast of burden). At the age of 12, he was shipped to Singapore as an indentured” servant (glorified slave), but luck with have him, he was accepted as a Cantonese Opera apprentice. The rest is history.
HONG KONG FILM ICON
Master Kwan Tak-Hing was especially remembered by Chinese audience world over as the person who portrait Master Wong Fei-Hong, in 77 full feature films (first in 1949), and in 13 Television series. To this, he was loved and respected by the Chinese audiences everywhere. Therefore, it is generally assumed that the “Wong character” had made him famous. In contrary, prior to the Wong films, Kwan was already a “house-hold-name”, as a Cantonese opera star, and a patriot and war hero.
THE PATRIOT ACTOR
When Japan launched its war of imperialism against China in July, 1937, Master Kwan was performing Cantonese Opera in the U.S. From that point on, he devoted his full time to the war effort, both through a public awareness campaign and through fund raising. He returned to Hong Kong from the U.S. with cash, tons of much needed medicines and clothings, 5 ambulances and one aircraft. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, his determination led to the donation of 7 aircrafts to the Chinese Government. For his effort, the Imperial Army of Japan put a bounty on his head, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, with a reward of $20,000.
Back in Hong Kong, his effort was more relentless. Aside from activities in Hong Kong and Macau, he also organized a 90 days opera tour to unoccupied part of Guangdong and Guangxi Province. The mobilizations of Oversea Chinese – dovetailing on the U.S. success, he organized opera tours targeting oversea Chinese. His first oversea tour in Asia was in the Philippines, in which the troupe visited more than 40 islands over a 6 months’ period. This tour was also very successful. His plan for to perform in Singapore, and Malaysia was disrupted by the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Navy on 7 December, 1941.
- 英女皇頒贈MBE 勳銜(1981)
HONORS, AWARDS AND COMMENDATIONS – (partial Listing)
The Patriot Actor – a war time title bestowed upon him by the government, the media and the general public in Hong Kong, China, and the oversea Chinese communities everywhere, 1937 – 1945
- Member of the British Empire (MBE) Honorary appointment by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1981
- Doctor of Humanities (Honorary) – Armstrong University, Berkeley, CA, USA 1996
- Special Public Commendations – California State Assembly, CA, USA 1994
- Certificate of Welcome – Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles, CA, USA, 1986
- Colonel, Chinese Army – appointment commander of the Cantonese Opera Propaganda Troupe 7th War Zone (1942 – 1945)
Numerous Letters of Commendation, Honors, and Awards