Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Obituary: Run Run Shaw Finally Ran Out of Time

The Chinese movie mogul responsible for the popularity of kung fu movies and is credited with having invented the genre finally died at the premature age of 106.

One of the richest people in the world, he died in Hong Kong.

His older brother's name was "Run Me," so you know both of the brothers' names were fake in the best show business tradition:

Run Run Shaw was born Shao Yifu in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, in 1907. As a child, he moved to Shanghai, where his father ran a profitable textile business. According to some Hong Kong news media accounts, Run Run and Run Me were English-sounding nicknames the father gave his sons as part of a family joke that played on the similarity of the family name to the word rickshaw.

Evincing little interest in the family business, Run Run and Run Me turned instead to entertainment. The first play they produced was called “Man From Shensi,” on a stage, as it turned out, of rotten planks. As the brothers often told the story, on opening night the lead actor plunged through the planks, and the audience laughed. The Shaws took note and rewrote the script to include the incident as a stunt. They had a hit, and in 1924 they turned it into their first film.

After producing several more movies, the brothers decided that their homeland, torn by fighting between Nationalists and Communists, was too unstable. In 1927 they moved to Singapore, which was then part of British colonial Malaya.

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