Veteran Malay singer and actress Momo Latiff dies at age of 92

Singer-actress Momo Latiff was a veteran from the golden age of Malay cinema.
Singer-actress Momo Latiff was a veteran from the golden age of Malay cinema. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singer-actress Momo Latiff - a veteran from the golden age of Malay cinema- died on Thursday at the age of 92, after slipping into a coma the day before.

She had high blood pressure and on Wednesday, collapsed in her home in Woodlands and was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Her family was told that a blood vessel in her brain had burst.

Momo - born Marfuah Makarim in 1923 in Indonesia - is best-known for her role as the wife of a martial arts master in the 1959 film Pendekar Bujang Lapok (Three Bachelor Warriors), acting alongside Jalan Ampas stars P. Ramlee S. Shamsuddin, and Aziz Sattar.

She moved to Singapore in 1939, while in an Indonesian performing troupe on tour in the region. Her performances caught the attention of executives at Shaw Brothers which owned the legendary Malay Film Productions studio at Jalan Ampas, and she was engaged as a playback singer, lending her singing voice to movies here.

Momo, who has 12 children, leaves behind a formidable legacy, said Cultural Medallion recipient Yusnor Ef, himself a titan of the Malay music industry.

Speaking in Malay, he said: "To me, she's a legendary star who can never be forgotten. She did everything with such sincerity and passion. Whenever she was invited to events and functions, she never said no. She would always turn up, even in a wheelchair. She never made any excuses.

"Even when people came up to her and asked her to sing - she would. She was such an upbeat person," he recalled.

"In the history of the development of Malay music and cinema, she will never be forgotten. Her name is etched in gold."