- Barbara's public life in HK (TV-series, -shows, photoshoots etc)
- 1984 April - June
- 1984 May: interview during the making of United we stand
The program Cultura Geography from Sohu TV broadcasted a special on Barbara. Quite a long part is about our relation (from minute 17:30 till 21:30).
This video can also be seen at:
Below is the full translation (thanks to Lauren for this amazing work)
Welcome to today's program, my name is Yi Zhou Huang (Program presenter).
In an afternoon of December, 1982, at television studio room TVB HK, there was sense of tensing in the air. Louis Cha Leung-yung (Author of The Legend of he Condor Heroes) was sitting in a corner. Although he was silence throughout the whole time, his facial expression could not disclose his distress. He was in frustration. He had been discussing with director of the adaptation of 'The legend of the Condor Heroes' TV series for several days already. They had great difficulty to finalize who should be casted as the heroine for the drama project. All female actresses came for audition were seemed lacking something in similarity to the character, wit, charm, charisma. When a young girl with costume did a somersault right in front of Louis and introduced herself as 'daughter of the Peach blossom island Master--Wong Yung, paying my respect to Mr. Legend Louis'. The special appearance immediately captured Louis' attention. All his days-long frustrations disappeared, he was given the confidence by this young girl's appearance. The girl was chosen out of half a dozen serious candidates to play Wong Yung, the daughter of the Peach blossom island Master, the legacy of the classic novel.
The 1983 TVB adaptation of 'The legend of the Condor Heroes' was a huge success. The popularity post broadcast was radiating from Hong Kong to mainland China eventually to the whole Chinese-speaking world. Following the a huge success of the TV series, there were strong and long lasting fans bases.
TVB went through great difficulty in casting the right major actress. Three thousand females were auditioned, and those with the right presence were screen-tested, performing several prepared scenes in period costumes and makeup in a television studio. Sadly, just two years after the huge success of the TV series, the female actress died at the age of 26 while at the peak of her career. The postmortem report show she died from carbon monoxide toxicity. It's believed that she committed suicide. Soon afterward the death shocked the whole Hong Kong and the south east Asia celebrity world.
Coroner ordered the body to be wrapped in five layers of foil and sealed with stamp. No one was allowed to visited, in case any accidents could happen during the investigation.
The sudden and unexpected death of an extraordinarily popular celebrity tributes by members of the public. On the day of her funeral, there were over 100,000 Hong Kong general public volunteered to pay her final respect. Her friends and co-stars in her TV dramas such as Michael Miu, Felix Wong, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Andy Lau were pallbearers for her casket.
Many would feel great pity, but who is this girl? She is the household name in the 1983 adaptation 'The Legend of the Condor Heroes' --Barbara Yung. Her death became the most disappointment in the 80's.
The role of Rong Huang was portrayed by Barbara as a spirit intelligence, charm and pretty young woman. Her lively eyes, cute smile left long lasting impression to all audiences. In 80s and 90s many may remember that it was a popular thing to have celebrity stickers on books, pencil cases etc. When the 1983 adaptation became popular, Barbara Yung's image stickers were seen everywhere. She immediately top the queen of image stickers. Some jokingly concludes the invention of image stickers was destined for Barbara, because no one could be compared to Barbara's popularity and clean image to all generations that suits to be posted everywhere. Celebrities in her time for example, Andy Lau, Idy Chan, Chow Yun Fat, were nothing to her. Even famous celebrity, well recognized beauty Lin Ching-Hsia / Brigitte Lin was far from as popular as Barbara Yung. If using the sentence 'one forever lives in...' to conclude Barbara Yung's life, Barbara Yung forever lives in image stickers.
Barbara Yung was born in Hong Kong, May, 1959. Her father was a naval officer. In those days, men with good income like Barbara's father often had wife and concubine. Barbara Yung's mother never married him. She was therefore never received the acceptance and blessing from the man's family. In other words, Barbara was born illegitimate. Barbara's childhood was relatively uneventful until the death of her father when she was aged 7. Without finance support, live was getting more and more difficult. Barbara's mother accepted a man's love and immigrated to UK. Barbara however due to the application matter stayed in Hong Kong with her uncle for two more years before she could reunited with her mother again. Barbara stayed in UK for eight years. Barbara spent seven years in school. (Barbara in interview: I remembered my first day at school. The teacher told me I was the first Chinese in this school. How about if you started from a lower class, because you may not do well in English as you are a Chinese. I was so angry. I told the teacher that I don't want to start from lower class. If I had to start from low, I rather go home. At the end, I won. I was doing well and enjoying school.） Barbara then went to London to study textile design at the Central School of Art and Design. She spent 4 years at this school.
Barbara returned to Hong Kong after her study. No one could foresee that she soon became famous by the portrayal of the legacy Rong Huang.
How come such smart, vibrant young woman stopped at only the age of 26? Let's have a look of a photo, yes, this particular one. What association between this photo and Barbara's tragic death? This is a photo of four people. From left to right is Michael Miu, Jaime Chik, Sandra Ng Kwan Yue and Kent Tong Chun Yip. At the time when the photo was taken, Sandra and Kent were in the center of rumor that they were dating. Less than three days after this photo was exposed, Barbara chose to end her own life. A photo become the fuse of Barbara's suicide. Does the photo contain any black magic or there are other secrets? No, neither of that. Her death is to do with the person in the photo--Kent Tong Chun Yip. Kent and Barbara was a known couple, boyfriend and girlfriend relationship. Kent and Barbara as well as Felix Wong and Kit-wah Leung were two model couples in Hong Kong celebrity circle in 1980s. Kent and Barbara, popular male and female celebrities. Stories, rumors always surround them. When reporter asked Barbara how she felt after presenting her the photo Kent with Sandra together, Barbara pretended calm and gentle. She replied 'that's nothing'. A danger slowly approach Barbara behind the words 'that's nothing'.
Barbara's first TV production was 'the Legend of the unknowns' . Barbara played the love interest of Kent in the series. At the time, Barbara was new to acting, but Kent was quite famous and experienced. He provided support and advice to Barbara's acting. Soon they grew close. Barbara's right eye was injured during the shooting of 'the Legend of the Condor Heroes'. The actor who accidently slashed Barbara's right eye was in shock by the bleeding. Barbara sensed the actor's anxious, she laughed and comforted him 'It really doesn't matter. Don't worry, look, I had a blepharoplasty procedure for free.' Barbara stayed in hospital until fully recovered. Kent visited Barbara every day during Barbara's hospitalization. By the end of recovery, the two established relationship. In the 80s, celebrities in Hong Kong didn't seem to worry their relationship being exposed. When the pair openly announced they were a couple, it's common to see them perform together on the stage.
How an adorable couple! A perfect match is not over statement. At the time, Kent Tong and Barbara Yung was a high-profile love-up couple. Kent Tong even moved to the same apartment building just one floor under Barbara's residential room. The two were seeing each other every day. (Barbara: we accommodate each other, sometimes I compromise; sometimes he compromise, but most of the time he compromise to make things happen. Kent: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you are right. What if both parties not willing to back down? What can be done? Barbara: I'll go---physical violence! Kent: Yeah, right. You think you are stronger than me, huh? Barbara: well, if I could not win then I will lash out at you. Kent: Lash out at me. Right, well, forget about it.)
All the lovie-dovie soon disappearing as the two elevated to stardom and more time spending apart. Slowly, their communication falling apart and their solution to each other’s disagreement becoming more and more radical.
In May, 1982, because in a movie which Kent Tong and Cherie Chung were the leading actor and actress has explicit appeal, Barbara did a few sexy shot for magazine. When Barbara performed in Singapore the magazine published Barbara's photos. Those photos immediately stirred up the whole HK celebrity news. It's believed, Barbara specifically went to ask the fortune/divination sticks for love. The answer she got was 'Love is like endless ocean, there was no carrier (boat/ship) on the ocean of love. The destination of love ends at eighteen.' Barbara ended up with insomnia for several nights following the outcome of the fortune/love answer seeking. Kent Tong became more worried as he noticed Barbara's weight loss. He confessed that there would be no more expose in front of camera. The two then made up again. However, two months later, the couple had another big fight. This time is because they both working together as a couple first time in leading in the new TV series Kings of ideas. Kent finished his shot in the studios before Barbara, but he left without waiting for Barbara. Barbara was furious. She stayed up till midnight with her friend and actor (who was rumored to have begun courting Barbara), Stephen Chow Sai-lung. Barbara thought Kent would have apologize to her the next day. To her surprise, Kent went to remove all his belonging in Barbara's apartment. They continued on hurting each other without any compromising.
Barbara Yung is very much like her played character--Yung Wong in real life. She is stubborn, has little capricious. Barbara wished Kent Tong could be tolerate and forgive like Rong's love interest Ching Kwok in the TV series. Kent came from a family often struggled to make a living which shaped him to be an independent, yet stubborn personality. He could tolerate argument once or twice, but the demand of compromise every single time is too much for him. Kent probably decided to chill out on Barbara in this last argument. What would Barbara do to irritate Kent this time?
The heated argument between Barbara and Kent is to do with this photo (with Michael Miu, Jaime Chik, Sandra Ng Kwan Yue and Kent Tong Chun Yip). Barbara was frantic after seeing the photo. She had a fumed fight with Kent in the studio that afternoon. Barbara was heard crying 'let's end this (the relationship)' Kent slammed the door and left after he heard that. Overnight, Barbara kept paging Kent without getting reply. Barbara was so despaired that she left an ultimatum message over the pager that 'if you (Kent) don't reply, you will regret that you won't hear my voice forever'. Barbara left her final note on her calendar ' Darling I love you' . She turned on gas, sat silently on her couch to end her short-live life. Her fate seems in mirroring the fortune answer she was seeking for---she ended her life eighteen months after she met Kent.
Barbara's fans were so angry with Kent after her death. Blaming him for the rumors that he had with other female actresses; blaming him selfish and heartless. On Barbara's funeral, Kent was so hated by Barbara's fans that some even threaten to kill him. Kent was seem motionless on Barbara's funeral. He held eleven roses towards Barbara's coffin. Kent placed one rose next to Barbara's face, then he picked up a brush to brush Barbara's hair carefully and broke the brush into half. He left half of the brush with Barbara and the other half he kept it in his pocket. This is the custom of married couple fare well from Kent's home town tradition.
Kent's stardom career was severely impacted by Barbara's suicidal death. He earned himself household name of heartthrob from earlier TV series The Legends of the unknowns. His name however tightly tied up with Barbara's name after Barbara's tragic death. Every year when it comes Barbara's memory anniversary, there always comes someone to remind everybody Kent's wrongful did causing Barbara's short life. Kent was forced to leave Hong Kong eventually and hide himself..
Until recent years, Kent accepts interviews by media. He said Barbara's death was not all necessary about the broken heart from love. Her weakness is the major reason which lead her to suicide.
Without the accompany with parents, Barbara formed very strong and independent since young. She doesn't like wearing make-up, doesn't like dresses or skirts. Barbara always purchased less feminine cloth which worries her mother a lot. Barbara's mother worried that Barbara would turn into a tomboy. Barbara's mother and uncle deliberately guided her to a more feminine direction. It's no coincident that Barbara got into art. They were hoping Barbara could become a more feminine girl via the training of art school. Barbara did show her talent on drawing/painting. Barbara was full of artistic romantism from her love of painting. She was obsess with faultless, completion, no regret. In some way, she was obsessive compulsive. Her ex-boyfriend Rob from Netherland can fully understand Barbara's compulsive.
14th May, 2012 is the 27th year of Barbara Yung's memorial anniversary. For paying Barbara's tribute, Rob Radboud, Barbara's former boyfriend spent more than three years to build an online memorial website from scratch. Rob mentioned that he is not all surprised by Barbara's death. Rob uploaded close to a hundred photos of Barbara's early student life in UK. Some are from their dating and travel days. Most of the photos were never exposed to public before, very precious. From all those photos shows Barbara's natural, shy, cute and youth. Rob also exposed a different Barbara that general public were unknown. Rob disclosed Barbara's two suicidal attempts during their five years romance.
Twice suicidal attempts, how despair one could be in order to make such decision. What impacted Barbara so badly that she decided to commit suicide? Barbara chose to end her life was not because she was totally despair in her life the time, but because her mother didn't want her to date a foreigner. Barbara was hurting so badly. She didn't want to give up on Rob, the same time, she didn't want to have argument with her mother. Barbara swallowed large amount of sleeping tablets while her mother was playing Mahjong. She was luckily saved by her own mother whom sent her to hospital for gastroscopy as soon as the discovery of Barbara's suicidal attempt. Barbara successfully threaten her mother by harming herself. Her mother was forced to agree to let her continue go out with Rob. However, Barbara committed suicide for the second time shortly after the first attempt.
This time Barbara was in relationship with Rob. Rob and Barbara were in long-distance relationship. The two studied in different universities and the location of the universities were far. It's difficult to see each other. Barbara was very lonely in her shared accommodation. She couldn't tolerate the loneliness and swallowed sleeping tables again. She was discovered by her German neighbor this time. Rob made Barbara to promise him that this would not happen again.
Barbara is a person who thirst for love, extremely emotional. If not being noticed by the person she loves, she could be radical. However, how come the love relationship (with Rob) she exchanged with her life could ended fruitless?
Barbara was very happy and radiance when she's with Rob. Although they too had disagreement, Rob always immediately made compromise. Barbara's all relax and joyful. They were so serious about their relationship that a small engagement party was held in Rob's home. Barbara's mother was not invited as she went all against Barbara and Rob's relationship. Barbara was rather disappointed by her mother. Rob wanted to return to Holland as school exam's getting close. Barbara had to stay in UK with mother. Rob began his new life in Holland few weeks later. Barbara rang up Rob's mother to discuss the possibility and support from Rob's family if she brought her mom with her to live in Holland. Perhaps Rob's mother didn't agree the suggestion, the two young people part their ways at the end.
We don't know how Barbara's coping after her separation with Rob. All we know is that soon Barbara returned to Hong Kong and apply for Miss Hong Kong pageant. Barbara was awarded number eight place in the 1982 pageant. (Miss Yung, how are you? You can pick a card. It saids you love painting. What kind of painting do you like to do? Models or landscape? Barbara: I like paining landscape, more creative. ) By July 1982, Barbara was contracted with TVB for two years TV presenter. Two three months passed, Barbara was casted by TV supervisor Mr. Siu Seng for her role in The Legend of the unknowns. In the same time, TVB casting audition for leading female---Wong Yung in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. More than three thousand female applied for audition. Barbara was selected for the wanted role.
The beginning of shooting The Legend of the Condor Heroes falls the same time of the wrap up of The Legend of the unknowns. Barbara must be extremely busy. Barbara survived from the hard work, meanwhile, she also harvested the joy from her hard work. The 1983 adaptation of The Legend of the Condor Heroes TV series didn't have a lot of budget for the filming. The production was based on simple studio set up, wild weather locations, recycle costumes (costumes used for other TV dramas in the past). It is imaginable, even though this was a highly anticipated TV drama production, the filming conditions were limited. The good casting, fabulous story mixed with love, friendship and patriotic period drama created a warm, heart-touching martial art fairy tale. The successful of The Legend of the Condor Heroes earned Barbara widespread attention. She became over-night famous and rich. Barbara began a busy schedule of a string of TV series filming. Her new TV drama The Fearless Duo won top-rating view in 1984, following in May she started filming United We Stand. Barbara played double in United We Stand. Soon after the drama, Barbara filmed The New Adventures of Chor Lau-Heung, The Battlefield, The Rough Ride and Kings of Ideas. She appeared so frequent on the TV, but she seemed became less and less secure.
1984, Barbara commented on Miss Hong Kong contestant Ha Sukling's failed suicide in an interview that she would 'never commit suicide for love' . 'It's stupid to commit suicide simply because the relationship ended'. 'Fall out of love is wasting time and energy. Is it worth to spend time feeling sorrow for a man whom no longer love you? I knew I would have no courage to kill myself' Barbara had another two suicidal attempts in early 1985 as the result that she could not breakthrough her portray of Wong Yung in other TV series roles.
Early 1985, Barbara heard rumours that Kent dating a new girlfriend. She swallowed four sleeping tablets at once then regretted. She rang '999' to seek for help. The second time she turned on gas stove. Luckily, a friend who came to visit her stopped her. It's understandable Barbara's job was stressful. Sometimes catch up with friends, vent it out from chest may have the therapeutic effect. However, sometimes a simple action may lead to sophisticated result.
Stressful work, unsuccessful relationship bothered Barbara. She went out to have some entertainment. A man called Stephen Chow Sai-Lung entered in her life. When Barbara used alcohol to anaesthetize herself, Stephen would pass her a bottle of wine. Two soon grew close together. Stephen Chow once upon the time was Anita Mui's boyfriend. After he separated from Anita, he followed Barbara. At the time, Barbara and Kent's relationship was at breaking point. Barbara therefore did not firmly refuse Stephen's attempts. Three days before Barbara's death, the two went to tour at Macau. However, Barbara's feeling was in torment when news came out about she's now with Stephen. She thought of her mother and uncle in this very difficult time.
In Barbara's last letter to her mother she mentioned she purchased a pair of earrings. Barbara wished her brother would bring the earrings to her mom in May 1985. She also mentioned she went to see a prophet. The prophet said she would get married after 31. It's a long wait again for another uncertain five years. Barbara hided her stress and sadness from her family. Her only wish was that they're live in harmony and love. A week after the letter, the tragic came.
Barbara didn't know what went wrong. She was expecting by making news she would captured the attention from Kent again, but this time Kent stayed away from her.
Barbara committed suicide is because she felt despair in life. The broke up of the relationship fumed the feeling of despair. She's sensitive of her illegitimate child status, lacking fatherly love since young, didn't have the feeling of belonging as constant moving around. Even became famous, she still very insecure.
Her stubborn, her capricious was her way of capturing love, capturing attention, but these also lead to love stay far from her reach. Barbara wanted the person she loved to understand that her love doesn't have hesitation. She would exchange to be remembered forever by ending her life, that her ending is also her perpetually.
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