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News From:The Straits Timesposted on 23 April at 9:01 AM
23 April at 9:01 AM

Huang Wenyong died with family by his side

BY KANE CUNICO AND BENSON ANG

Veteran MediaCorp artiste actor Huang Wenyong died on Saturday evening in hospital.

He was 60 and leaves behind a wife, son and daughter.

He is perhaps best known for his leading role as "Ah Shui" in Channel 8's iconic period drama "The Awakening".

According to reports, he died of lymphoma - a type of blood cancer. His manager said that he'd been in and out of hospital over the past few months for treatment.

He checked into the Singapore General Hospital a week ago.

Actress Hong Huifang said: "A colleague and I wanted to visit him two days ago, but he declined.

"He said he didn't look well and didn't want to see us in that state. He asked us to wait until he got better to visit him."

Fears for his health first surfaced when he was photographed looking pale and haggard at Ch 8's 30th Drama Anniversary Show.

But he had clarified at the time that his appearance was the result of stomach flu.

Actress Xiang Yun and actor Huang Shi Nan told The New Paper on Sunday that they had been worried then.

Said Huang Shi Nan: "He said he was awaiting the results of his medical tests and that it was a 'small matter'."

Added Xiang: "Wenyong has always been rather private about his affairs. He is not the sort to talk about his problems."

In January, rumours went into overdrive when he missed a press conference for the then-new Ch 8 drama It's A Wonderful Life.

In response, Huang released an audio message to his fans on MediaCorp's online portal in early March.

He said then: "I am well. All my friends who are concerned about me, please do not worry."

Then, a few weeks later on March 27, drama erupted when an online rumour claimed that Huang had died.

At the time, fans reacted angrily to the hoax, noting that it was in very bad taste.

Huang died at 5pm on Saturday with his family at his side. His death comes on the eve of the annual Star Awards, where industry watchers were expecting him to make a triumphant comeback.

He had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing a womanising cook in Joys Of Life. He was also one of the nominees in the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes category.

Fellow nominee Elvin Ng was distraught when contacted last night.

He said: "Everyone feels down right now."

His voice cracked as he added: "It's tough to lose someone who has brought so much joy and happiness."

Huang's co-actor from It's A Wonderful Life, Julie Tan, said that she'd been finishing up her fitting session for today's Star Awards show when she got the news.

"Everyone was so excited about the awards, dressing up and getting ready to be glam and then suddenly this happens. We're really shocked."

Tan, who first starred with Huang two years ago when she had just started out, said she'll remember Huang's encouragement best.

"He reminded me not to be nervous. He had no airs at all and gave us advice."

She also recalled how Huang was trying to be upbeat despite feeling sick last November as they were filming It's A Wonderful Life.

"He was going for chemo and everyone thought he would recover. We were all looking for him to make a comeback," she said, her voice quivering.

Within hours of the news breaking, online forums like HardwareZone, MyCarForum and social media like Facebook and Twitter were filled with condolence messages.

Online, the community shared their thoughts and condolences poured in from fans and non-fans who remember the veteran actor.

Channel 8's Facebook page posted a message which was shared more than 360 times and which received more than 1,500 likes as of press time.

It read: "Words are inadequate to express the sadness we feel. It is with deepest sympathies that we inform the passing of Huang Wen Yong. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time."Netizen Sylvia Chong posted on Ch 8's Facebook page: "This death is so saddening. Shows aren't going to be the same without him."

Another netizen, Mohd Shah, wrote: "As a non-Chinese viewer, even I enjoyed his drama and acting skills, he will always remain in our hearts."

On Twitter, user Andy Ang posted: "Huang Wenyong, you will always be in our hearts. You were the laughter during our childhood, we will miss you!"

Retiree Irene Ong, 60, who called The New Paper hotline, best remembers Huang from Star Search in the 80s and his roles in movies and TV dramas.

"He came across as a very humble actor," she said.

Actors, meanwhile, told TNPS that they best remember him as a hardworking actor who was always considered a "big brother".

Xiang Yun, who was often cast as his leading lady, said in a phone interview last night: "He got cast in leading roles because he was tall, good-looking and his Chinese was good. He truly belonged in the limelight, and is an example for all other actors."

She was attending her daughter's school performance when she got the news. She said they had been acting together for over three decades, and she considered him an old and dear friend.

Veteran actor Chen Shucheng said: "It's a real pity - he was so young. There are also already so few veteran actors left."

Huang was a teacher in Malaysia before coming here to become one of the first few locally-trained actors to enter the local entertainment industry.

For how he is going to approach tomorrow's star awards, in which Ng is nominated along with Huang, he said: "Well, the show must go on.

"Like when my dad passed away, I kept on working. And it doesn't mean any less that we cared for them or loved them.

"We can't compare a show to a death. A show is a show, a death is a death, a trophy is a trophy. At the end of the day, he is going to be in the hearts of his loved ones and of his colleagues for his love this industry, for his passion, for his work.

Ng, who didn't share many scenes with Huang on It's A Wonderful Life, said that he remembers the envouragement Huang gave him as he worked his way up the industry.

"What I remember most when I was playing Tarzan (his popular character from Together) and when I was starting to od better in my career was the way he gave me that encouragement.

"I mean, for a veteran actor like him to come up to a young guy like me and say these things about how i did things well or how i can improve, I'm not sure a lot of people would take the time to do that."

FOR MORE:

Tribute to Huang Wenyong opens MediaCorp's annual Star Awards
Hundreds turn up to say final farewell to Huang Wenyong, Singapore's first TV star
Huang Wenyong asked Xiang Yun not to visit him in hospital
PICTURES: Veteran MediaCorp actor Huang Wenyong dies
PICTURES: MediaCorp stars pay tribute to Huang Wenyong
Tribute to a star
WATCH: Huang Wenyong was a good mentor
Farewell, Ah Shui: Huang Wenyong's breakout role in The Awakening

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