The legend of Anita Mui: Shining star's lonely life
"Instant shining is not eternity. Show business is a hard life. I wonder how many people will remember me after I leave the business for good. My hope is that when they feel bored and look at the stars in the sky, people will think of my name." ¡ª Anita Mui
Hong Kong heartthrob singer/actress Anita Mui died of lung failure that was caused by cervical cancer in a Hong Kong hospital at 2: 50 a.m. on Tuesday. She was 40 years old.
Mui's father died when she was a small child. As the youngest daughter of the family, she began performing at the age of 5, singing Chinese opera and pop songs in theaters. She dropped out of school during her second year of junior high school. After that, she sang at bars and nightclubs for several years.
Her mother ran a bar to support the family at that time. But after a fire destroyed the bar, Mui had to work harder to pay the family's debt. Gradually she carved out a niche in the market.
Mui's big break came in 1982 when she defeated 3,000 contestants to win first prize in the New Talent Singing Competition.
But Mui's fame did not bring happiness. She felt lonely under the pressures of show business and continued to work hard supporting her family.
Mui went on to carve out a reputation as "the Madonna of Asia" with her occasionally outrageous costumes, bold stage performances and a stream of hits which netted her numerous awards. She intended to make her every disc and show perfect. The discs and shows often became trendsetters and were hot topics for the public.
She later turned to acting and enjoyed success starring in films including The Heroic Trio and Drunken Master 2. Her portrayal of a tortured ghost in Rouge won her Taiwan's Golden Horse Award in 1987.
Mui didn't talk much about the difficulties she experienced on her journey from a bar singer to becoming a major star in Asia. She once said: "Many people have asked me which one I want to be: a happy ordinary person or an eminent star. If I could, I would choose to be a happy ordinary person."
She remembered being rejected when she first entered show business: "Once a man scoffed at me in public on Christmas Day. He swore at me. At that time, I was not accepted in the show business. I was humiliated for no reason. I almost burst into tears."
Mui was born for the stage. Although she gave her farewell concert in 1991, she made a comeback in 1994 and caused quite a stir. But after that, she made light of many things.
"Instant shining is not eternity. Show business is a hard life. I wonder how many people will remember me after I leave the business for good. My hope is that when they feel bored and look at the stars in the sky, people will think of my name."
Mui was generous and straightforward and liked to make friends. Friendship was important to her: She would make personal sacrifices to help a friend. And she never asked for anything in return.
She once said: "Many people thought I've made a lot of money. But actually my biggest gains are friendship. When I was frustrated, many friends were concerned and gave me support. It is such a precious feeling when you have so many friends who can help you."
Mui was concerned about the public good. She was responsible for organizing many charitable activities and also gave away a lot of money. She continued her work for charity after her disease broke out last year when her cancer turned malignant.
During the SARS outbreak, she helped organize the 1:99 Concert in Hong Kong that brought the entire city's entertainment industry together. And she also helped to raise money for the SARS-affected families.
While her career was a miracle, Mui's love life was a bumpy road. Such men as Jackie Chan, Zhao Wenzhuo, Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse were rumored lovers. But she once said: "I dare not get married because I have a marriage-phobia. I'm afraid that my marriage will result in divorce. I don't want that regret in my life." Mui repeatedly said she would like to trade all she had for a woman's basic aspiration love.