Shum dies at 62

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CORRECTED 4:51 p.m., Feb. 19, 2008

HONG KONG -- Popular entertainer Lydia Shum died Tuesday morning after a long battle with cancer. She was 62.

Known for her chubby appearance and joviality, she earned the nickname "Fei-fei" (Fatty) and "Happy Fruit" early in a career that spanned nearly half a century.

Born in Shanghai in 1945, Shum moved to Hong Kong with her family soon after, and made her debut in 1960 as a film child star for the Shaw Brothers studio. She later ventured into singing, television drama and hosting.

One of the most celebrated and beloved comediennes and actresses in the Chinese-speaking world, she appeared in 70 films in Cantonese and Mandarin, and gained wide popularity with her comedic and hosting skills for the Hong Kong television variety show "Enjoy Yourself Tonight."

In 2002, she starred in the English-language sitcom "Living with Lydia" in Singapore, which was broadcast there and also in the U.S., on AZN Television.

Shum married Hong Kong television actor-singer Adam Cheng after a decade-long courtship in 1985. In 1987, she gave birth to a daughter, Joyce Cheng. Her marriage dissolved the following year.

A testament to Shum's iconic status in the territory, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang expressed his sadness at Shum's passing in a morning briefing. He noted that her laughter accompanied many Hong Kong people as they grew up and called Shum's fortitude in the face of illness "a demonstration of the Hong Kong spirit."

Shum has long suffered from diabetes and hypertension and was diagnosed with liver tumor in September 2006.
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