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Singer, Star, Leading Asian Film Executive Mona Fong Dies at 83

Asia lost one of its top women film and TV executives with the death on Wednesday of Mona Fong (aka Mona Shaw). She was 83.

After a glittering career as a singer, and then as an actress, she became a key figure in the running of first the Shaw Brothers movie studio, then at the top of TVB, Hong Kong’s leading free-to-air TV station.

TVB said that she died peacefully at 5.28pm local time at Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, in Happy Valley, surrounded by her family. No cause of death was given.

Born in Shanghai in 1934 as Lee Monglan, the daughter of a nightclub singer, she moved to Hong Kong in the 1940s with her mother and quickly turned professional as a singer. She was noted for her singing abilities in Chinese and English, and often sang English covers of Chinese hits.

She met her husband, the legendary Sir Run Run Shaw, after a performance in Singapore in 1952, though they did not marry until 1997. Sir Run Run, co-founder of Shaw Brothers, died in January 2014 at the age of 106.

Fong joined Shaw Brothers as early as 1969 and became its managing director, after its heyday, in 1996. She was a director, chairwoman and co-owner of TVB from 1988 and remained a key management figure until 2012. In recent years control of Shaw Brothers has been passed to representatives of Li Ruigang, allowing the mainland Chinese tycoon and his CMC group in turn to take increasing control of the powerful Hong Kong broadcaster. However, she remained a non-executive director until her death.

As a production manager and as producer, Fong has her name on over 200 films. They span many of the top titles from Hong Kong’s Golden Era, including “The King of Masks,” “36th Chamber of Shaolin,” “Five Deadly Venoms,” and “The Avenging Eagle.” For the last decade, more than 700 film titles made by Shaw Brothers have been controlled by Celestial Pictures.

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