YANG LEUNG Yin-fong (Fong Yim-fun)
1998 Honorary Fellow
Fong Yim-fun is the stage name of Leung Yin-fong, who started her training in Cantonese opera at the age of 10. At 13, she advanced t be an erbang huadan (supporting actress)(二幫花旦) and three years later she became the zhengyin huadan (female lead)(正印花旦). Exceptionally talented and outstanding, Fong has a successful performing career and originated a unique singing style, known as the Fong style, in Cantonese Opera.
As a leading artist, she set out to reform Cantonese opera customs by re-educating the audience and removing many bad habits both inside the auditorium and on stage. At the same time, she initiated a process of purification of Chinese theatrical arts and advocated the use of Chinese instruments only for musical accompaniment. She also published house programmes which acknowledged artists as well as musicians and the backstage crew, showing her respect for every member of the production.
Fong began her movie career in 1950 and again achieved immediate popularity. In 1952, through a popularity poll conducted by a leading entertainment journal, Cantonese opera fans voted her the “Queen of Hudan”. This tribute became permanently associated with her throughout her career. In 1958, at the zenith of her career, Fong decided to leave her glamourous life as a stage and film idol and build up her own family. Retired but still enthusiastic about promoting Cantonese opera in Hong Kong, she donated the much needed premises to the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong (八和會館), an organization with represents the local Cantonese Opera profession.
She founded the Kwan Fong Charitable Foundation with Dr Maria Lee in 1984 to help the poor and the aged. She has also made numerous donations for research in Chinese culture and Cantonese opera studies. Her contribution to the arts and society was acknowledged in 1995 when she was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). In the same year, Lutheran University in the USA honoured her with a Doctorate award.