SINGAPORE - Leading 1980s television actresses Chen Bifeng, Zeng Huifen and Ye Sumei were among the artists who paid their last respects to veteran local actor Bai Yan, who died early on Monday (Aug 19).
The trio had all been goddaughters to Bai, who died months after celebrating his 100th birthday in May.
According to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, former actress Zeng turned up at the wake on Monday and Tuesday. Best known for her role in Samsui Women (1986), Zeng is now based in the United States but was back for a visit.
In an interview with Shin Min Daily News, Zeng said she would visit Bai whenever she came back to Singapore during her children’s summer vacation. She learnt that he was in hospital when she returned this year and visited him in hospital with actress Chen Liping and her husband Rayson Tan.
Showing up at the wake at the Singapore Casket on Monday were Bai's goddaughters Chen and Ye, as well as veteran actors Zhou Quanxi and Zhang Jinhua.
Chen had starred in Flying Fish (1983), Happy Trio (1986) and On The Fringe (1988), while Ye is known for playing sworn sisters with Zheng Wanling in Two Different Lives (1989).
Ye told Wanbao that both she and Bai liked to collect stamps, and that she still had the stamps which he had given to her.
Chen said she was most impressed by Bai's enthusiasm in show business.
"After he left the TV station in the 1990s, he still performed at old folk's homes with programmes involving magic, songs and dance," Chen, who is now teaching Chinese and drama classes in schools on a freelance basis, told Wanbao.
Veteran actress Zhang, 82, who played Bai's wife in Five Foot Way (1987) and We Are Family (1988), said she felt no pressure working with him as he was friendly and humorous.
Also spotted at Bai's wake on Monday were actor Chen Shucheng and his wife, former actress Huang Peiru, as well as actress Xiang Yun and her husband Edmund Chen.
Actresses Zoe Tay, Hong Huifang, Chen Xiuhuan, Li Yinzhu and Jin Yinji were seen at the wake on Tuesday morning.
Li and Jin played Bai’s daughter-in-law and housekeeper respectively in We Are Family.
Tay said she first worked with Bai in her very first TV serial My Fair Ladies after winning the inaugural Star Search in 1988. She also recalled the last serial they worked on together, Ride The Waves (1993), where he played her father-in-law.
She said that as a new actress at that time, she was convinced by his performance on set. She said that Bai could recite a few pages of his lines from beginning to end without stopping, and he could express the roles' emotions very vividly.
Bai leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He disclosed in a past interview that he has never had any major quarrels with his wife Ye Qing, who died at 94 in 2016.
In a tribute to Bai posted on Facebook on Monday, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat wrote: "Saddened by the passing of our veteran actor, Bai Yan. He was 100 years old when he passed on this morning.
"Uncle Bai Yan joined the television industry in 1985 and have acted in many memorable shows such as We Are Family, Son Of Pulau Tekong, Five Foot Way and Pretty Faces.
"Many of us grew up watching him on screens, and even till today he remains a household name. Uncle Bai Yan was well-loved by many Singaporeans and fellow artistes, he will be deeply missed."
Bai Yan's funeral will be held on Friday morning.