Movie legend Shaw dies at 106
SIR Run Run Shaw, the billionaire film pioneer hailed as the inventor of the gongfu genre and who launched a media empire that stretched from Hong Kong to Hollywood, died yesterday at the age of 106.
The colourful mogul, whose flagship Shaw Brothers Studio helped shape Asian cinema in the 20th century and influenced the films of directors such as Quentin Tarantino, died peacefully at his home in Hong Kong.
Shaw, listed by Forbes as a billionaire, was also a generous philanthropist who was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth in 1977 for his public service as a long-time backer of the Red Cross.
He co-produced Ridley Scott's 1982 cult hit, Blade Runner, and his studio's gongfu films became genre-defining - but he famously missed out on signing Bruce Lee following failed talks over remuneration.
Lee instead joined Golden Harvest, a Hong Kong-based production house founded by former Shaw employee Raymond Chow, which propelled the martial-arts icon to international stardom.
Shaw and his older brother Runme first founded a film production house in Shanghai in 1927, before moving to Hong Kong and Singapore.
A passionate film-lover from an early age, legend has it that Shaw first cut his teeth in the business by distributing film reels on a bicycle to rural cinemas in Singapore and Malaysia, giving poignancy to his name "Run Run".
Shaw Brothers Studio has since produced around 1,000 titles, including The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin (1978) and Five Fingers Of Death (1972).
The studio dominated Hong Kong's "Movie Town", and bred local directors such as John Woo.
In 1967, Shaw helped found Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, and remained its chairman until 2011.
Silver-screen megastars such as Chow Yuen Fatt, Tony Leung, Stephen Chow and Andy Lau all had their big breaks on TVB television dramas in the 1980s, before switching to movies.
Shaw was born in Ningbo, Zhejiang province in China, in 1907. He had an affection for Rolls-Royce vehicles, and was often pictured accompanied by glamorous actresses at glittering social events.
He was famously reported as saying that he and his brother had buried up to US$4 million in gold, jewellery and money in their garden, before the Japanese invaded Singapore during World War II. "After the war, we were still rich," he said.
Shaw was also the backer of the US$1-million Shaw Prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Asia.
His funeral will be attended by only family members, TVB said.
He is survived by his second wife, Ms Mona Fong, and his two sons and two daughters.