Veteran local actor Bai Yan dies, months after celebrating 100th birthday

Veteran actor Bai Yan retired from acting after receiving the Special Achievement award at the Star Awards in 1996.
Veteran actor Bai Yan retired from acting after receiving the Special Achievement award at the Star Awards in 1996.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Veteran local actor Bai Yan, who celebrated his 100th lunar birthday in May, died in the early hours of Monday (Aug 19) after he was hospitalised for pneumonia.

His granddaughter Jenny told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao that Bai was hospitalised for pneumonia 10 days ago, and died at about 3am on Monday.

Bai had celebrated his 100th birthday on May 5, with the bash attended by more than 130 local actors and people in the TV industry, including Zoe Tay, Aileen Tan, Christopher Lee, Jin Yinji, Zheng Geping, Hong Huifang, Chen Xiuhuan, Zhu Houren and Tang Hu.

Bai's wake is held at the Singapore Casket and his funeral will be held on Friday.

Born Yan Boyuan in Wuhan, China, in 1920, Bai began his acting career in the 1930s, when he joined the touring Yin Yue Music And Dance Troupe in southern China.

He came to Singapore with the music and dance troupe as a young man in the early 1940s and married then local movie star Ye Qing in 1944. She died at 94 in 2016.

 
 

In the 1950s and 1960s, Bai was known for acts involving magic and acrobatics mixed with dance, and was adept at performing sketches.

Bai played the patriarch of a family in We Are Family (1988), a role that was tailor-made for him. He kept in touch with the show's actors, including actress Fang Hui, who had left Singapore but still visited him whenever she returned to the country.

In 1985, at the age of 65, Bai was invited to join then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and acted in his first television serial Blossoms In The Sun. He has acted in other TV serials such as Son Of Pulau Tekong (1985), Men Of Valour (1986), Five Foot Way (1987) and My Fair Ladies (1988).

Bai played the patriarch of a family in We Are Family (1988), a role that was tailor-made for him. He kept in touch with the show’s actors, including actress Fang Hui, who had left Singapore but still visited him whenever she returned to the country.

The veteran actor retired from acting after receiving the Special Achievement award at the Star Awards in 1996. He had acted in about 70 TV serials in 11 years.