Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (Chinese: 張國榮; Jyutping: Zoeng1 Gwok3-wing4; 12 September 1956 – 1 April 2003) was a Hong Kong singer and actor. He is considered "one of the founding fathers of Cantopop" by "combining a hugely successful film and music career."
Cheung rose to prominence as a teen heartthrob and pop icon of Hong Kong in the 1980s, receiving numerous music awards including both Most Popular Male Artist Awards at the 1988 and 1989 Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards. In 1989, Cheung announced his retirement from the music industry as a pop singer. Returning to the music scene after a five-year hiatus, Cheung released his chart-topping comeback album Most Beloved (寵愛) which achieved a huge market success. In 1999, he won the Golden Needle Award for his outstanding achievement as a musician at the RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards, and his 1984 hit song Monica was voted as Hong Kong's "Song of the Century". He was honoured as "Asia's Biggest Superstar" at the 2000 CCTV-MTV Music Honours.
Cheung won the 1991 Hong Kong Film Award (Days of Being Wild) and the 1994 Hong Kong Film Critics Society Award (Ashes of Time) for best actor. He had also won the 1994 Japan Film Critics Society Award for best actor for his performance in Farewell My Concubine and ten other best actor nominations, five Golden Horse Awards, three Cannes Film Festival Awards, an Asia Pacific Film Festival Award, and a Venice Film Festival Award.
Cheung's music and films not only captured fans in Hong Kong but also other Asian areas including Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan and South Korea. He is the first foreign artist to hold 16 concerts in Japan that has yet to be broken and the record holder as the best-selling C-pop artist in Korea.
Cheung was ranked as the favourite actor in the 100 years of Chinese cinema. In 2010, he was voted the third "Most Iconic Musicians of All Time" (after Michael Jackson and The Beatles). CNN considered Cheung as the "Most Beautiful Man from Hong Kong Cinema" and one of "Asia's 25 Greatest Actors of All Time."
Cheung was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, the youngest of ten children in a middle-class Hakka family. Cheung Wut-hoi (張活海), his father, was a fairly well known tailor, whose customers included American actors William Holden, Marlon Brando, and Cary Grant. His parents divorced when he was quite young. While in Hong Kong, Cheung attended Rosaryhill School at Wanchai on Hong Kong Island. At age 12, he was sent to Norwich School in England. He worked as a bartender at his relatives' restaurant in Southend-on-Sea and sang during the weekends. It was around this period that he chose his name, Leslie. According to Cheung, he chose this name because "I love the film Gone with the Wind. And I like Leslie Howard."
In several interviews, Cheung stated he had had a fairly unhappy childhood. "I didn't have a happy childhood. Arguments, fights and we didn't live together; I was brought up by my granny." "What I would say most affected me as a child, was that my parents were not at home with me. As a young kid, one could not always understand why his parents weren't at home. This made me depressed sometimes."
Cheung attended the University of Leeds where he studied textile management. He continued university through the end of his first year when his father fell ill. After his father's recovery, Cheung did not return to England to complete his studies.
Following his participation in talent competitions, Cheung signed with Polydor Records in 1977 and released his first albums, I Like Dreamin and Day Dreamin, recording the full contents of the album in English. The albums flopped as did his first Cantonese-language album, Lover's Arrow, in 1979. During one performance in 1980, Cheung was booed by the crowd and the singer briefly departed from his music career, until signing with Capital Artists in 1982 where he released his breakthrough album, Wind Blows On that year. In 1984, his song "Monica" became the best-selling single in Hong Kong history and made Cheung a music superstar. Cheung would release more successful albums, including For Your Heart Only (1985), Stand Up (1986) and Admiration (1986). Cheung left Capital Artists in 1987 and released nine more albums on the Cinepoly label.
Cheung's status as one of Hong Kong's biggest artists brought him in competition with fellow superstar Alan Tam (譚詠麟), leading to increasing hostility between their fans, starting a long-standing conflict that soon put heavy pressure on both singers. In 1988, Tam publicly quit all pop music award ceremonies. In 1989, Cheung announced his intention to retire from his music career as a singer. Cheung then set a record by being the first singer ever in Cantopop history to hold a retirement concert series Final Encounter of the Legend, which ran for 33 consecutive nights (he was 33 at the time) at Hong Kong Coliseum.
The turning point in Cheung's acting career came in 1986 with his starring role in John Woo's (吳宇森) A Better Tomorrow, which broke Hong Kong's box office record. In the following years Cheung was praised for his performances in films which found popularity with audiences worldwide, including A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), Rouge (1987) and Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Being Wild (1991).
Although Cheung quit his career as a pop singer from 1989 to 1995, he continued his music career as a songwriter. He composed more than ten songs during that time. In 1993, he won Best Original Movie Song Award from Golden Horse Film Festival for the theme song Red Cheek, White Hair to the film The Bride with White Hair (as a film score composer). In 1995, he wrote all three theme songs for the film The Phantom Lover. As for songwriting, Cheung won four nominations for Best Original Movie Song Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards and two nominations for Best Original Film Song at the Hong Kong Film Awards. In 1998, he was a member of the jury at the 48th Berlin International Film Festival.
In 1995 Cheung signed a contract with Rock Records, returning to music as a singer. At the same year, he released his first post-"retirement" album, Beloved. Beloved achieved large market success with the award of IFPI Best Selling Album.
In 2001 Cheung collaborated with William Chang, the art director of Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Being Wild (1991), to make his music video Bewildered, about the intimacy between two gay men. Japanese ballet dancer Nishijima Kazuhiro played Cheung's lover in the video. The music video was demonized for advocating homosexuality and was banned by TVB, but Cheung refused to edit the scenes and censor himself.
Cheung's last concert tour was the Passion Tour, which took place in Hong Kong and overseas from 2000 to 2001. Cheung collaborated with fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier, transforming Cheung "From Angel to Devil" in four costumes: the Angel, the Pretty Boy, the Latin Lover, and the Devil – denoting cross-cultural drag and focusing on Cheung's androgyny and bisexuality. Although Passion Tour was acclaimed in Japan, Korea, and Canada for Cheung's glamour and dignity in using drag performance through Gaultier's costume designs, in Hong Kong it was received with disapproval.
In 2011, CCTV commented the "Passion Tour" that from performance form, art concept, costume props and audience response, all represent the highest standard of Chinese concerts, no one has ever surpassed.
Cheung distinguished himself as a Canto-pop singer through embodying the politics, sexual and gender identity of a queer subject position. He announced his same-sex relationship with Daffy Tong during a concert in 1997, earning him prestige in LGBT communities in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In a 2001 interview with Time magazine, Cheung said: "It's more appropriate to say I'm bisexual. I've had girlfriends. When I was 22 or so, I asked my girlfriend Teresa Mo (毛舜筠) to marry me.", but was unsuccessful. In two interviews in 1992 and 2002, Cheung also stated that "My mind is bisexual. It's easy for me to love a woman. It's also easy for me to love a man too" and "I believe that a good actor would be androgynous, and ever changing," referencing his performance of intersexuality, androgynous dressing, and gay femininity in his music videos and films.
Cheung and Ngai Sze-Pui (倪詩蓓), a Hong Kong model and actress whom he met on the set of Agency 24, were in a relationship for two years.
Despite this, author Nigel Collett, who wrote a book on Cheung titled Firelight of a Different Colour: The Life and Times of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, concluded Cheung was gay and that the singer's struggle with his sexuality led to his depression.
Cheung responded to the question regarding lover, “In terms of lover, I think I can be a better friend than a lover. Because I am a workaholic. To share my romance, that person has to compromise something.” This statement was out during the interview following the release of Okinawa Rendezvous.
Cheung was never married but was in a long-time relationship with childhood friend, Daffy Tong. 
Cheung was a supporter of several charities concerning children's welfare. He was a patron of the Children's Cancer Foundation, a charity that provides caring service for young children with cancer and their families. Cheung donated HK$1 million (US$128,000) in 1996 and launched five sets of RED cards to help raise funds for the Children's Cancer Foundation. He was the first star to launch a charity fundraiser at a concert.In 1996,he had rarely sung in public, but he sang three theme song of his films to raise money for the elderly. RED card is a charity that Cheung set up a collection booth outside the HK Coliseum in his concert in 1997. As long as donation of HK$100 or above can be obtained a set of card.Cheung said, "I will lead the way, so I donated HK$1,000,000 to Hong Kong children's cancer fund in my own name." During the concert, we collected more than HK$800,000, Cheung and his friends added more than HK$10,000 and made up a million Hong Kong dollars to donate to the cancer fund.
He was also a patron of the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation (ECSAF), founded by veteran actress Josephine Siao (蕭芳芳). “Last night, wireless for the Taiwan earthquake, ‘send warm to Taiwan’ fund-raising party, PO in front of the screen performance of fried rice fund-raising, "brother" Leslie Cheung on the stage to test food, praise good taste, impromptu donated 250,000 Hong Kong dollars to the victims of Taiwan, together with fans donations, a bowl of fried rice has raised 500,000 Hong Kong dollar.” --1999
Sun Entertainment opened the "star Second-hand Shop", donated by the stars of second-hand goods to open the auction, the amount of money donated to the "Sun Love Fund." Leslie Cheung has always been praised that has a very good taste， in support of charitable activities, he was the first to donate carefully selected three pieces of love to treasure for the big auction. --2000 of the Sun Leslie has donated his beloved badminton racket to the commercial Taiwan "http://idclub.com celebrities" for auction, income donated to children's Cancer Fund. "--2000 of Oriental Daily
Seedling protection fund large-scale charity night this year, already is scheduled for April 12th, Cheung takes the lead in response to donate $100,000HKD when celebrating his birthday on the same day last year, he has told the guests that give him cash instead of birthday presents, then he donate the all the money that he receive in his birthday party to the fund. -- March 12, 2003 Oriental daily.
Cheung died by suicide on 1 April 2003 at 6:43 pm (HKT). He leapt from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island. He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. He was 46 years old.
As one of the most popular performers in Asia, Cheung's death broke the hearts of millions of his fans across Asia and shocked the Asian entertainment industry and Chinese community worldwide. The day after Cheung's death, his partner Daffy Tong confirmed that Cheung suffered from clinical depression and had been seeing Professor Felice Lieh Mak, a famous therapist, for treatment for almost a year. He also revealed that Cheung had previously attempted suicide in November 2002. Later at his funeral, Cheung's niece disclosed that her uncle had severe clinical depression and suffered much over the past year (2003).
Despite the risk of infection from SARS and the WHO's warning on traveling to Hong Kong, tens of thousands attended Cheung's memorial service, which was held for the public, on 7 April 2003, including celebrities and other fans, many from other parts of the world such as mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, the United States, and Canada. Cheung's funeral was held on 8 April 2003. For almost a month, Cheung's death dominated newspaper headlines in Hong Kong and his songs were constantly on the air. His final album, Everything Follows the Wind (一切隨風), was released three months after his death.
Cheung's suicide note (translation):
"Depression! Many thanks to all my friends. Many thanks to Professor Felice Lieh-Mak (麥列菲菲) (Cheung's last psychiatrist). This year has been so tough. I can't stand it anymore. Many thanks to Mr. Tong. Many thanks to my family. Many thanks to Sister Fei (沈殿霞). In my life I have done nothing bad. Why does it have to be like this?"
Local Hong Kong media and professionals worried that Cheung's death would infect youth who looked up to him with sexual disorientation and gay ideologies, linking gay life to violence, depression, and suicide in order to try to teach young people to fear homosexuality. Many media outlets focused primarily on arguing about his gay identity instead of on his artistic achievement in film and music. Before his death, Cheung mentioned in interviews that he had become depressed because of negative comments about gender-crossing in his Passion Tour concert. He had planned to retire from stage performance because of the strain of being a gay artist in Hong Kong, facing stigmatization, surveillance, and marginalization.
In a 2012 interview, Cheung's eldest sister, Ophelia, stated Cheung was diagnosed with clinical depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. She said that reporters were frequently found outside of her brother's home which hampered his ability to get to his doctor's facility. Thus, he would come over to her house to consult with his doctor. He would ask his sister, "Why am I depressed? I have money and so many people love me." He was reluctant to take medication for his depression.
In 2013, Cheung's former music agent Florence Chan organised two memorial concerts entitled "Miss You Much Leslie" on 31 March and 1 April for the 10th anniversary of Cheung's death. Big names of the Hong Kong entertainment industry such as Jacky Cheung (張學友), Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (梁朝偉), Andy Hui (許志安), Leo Ku (古巨基), Chilam Cheung (張智霖), Vivian Chow (周慧敏), Kelly Chen (陳慧琳), Joey Yung (容祖兒), Grasshopper, and others performed at the concert at Hong Kong Coliseum. In addition, in 2013, Cheung's fans from around the world made 2 million orizuru cranes for the Guinness World Record as a tribute to the anniversary.
On 12 September 2016, on what would have been Cheung's 60th birthday, over one thousand fans joined Florence Chan in the morning at Po Fook Hill Ancestral Hall (寶福山) for prayers. At night, Cheung's fans club, Red Mission organised "Leslie Cheung 60th Red Hot Birthday Party" to commemorate Cheung. It was an outdoor birthday party at Central Harbourfront Event Space with a big LED screen projecting Cheung's past video clips, concerts, songs and pictures. Eason Chan (陳奕迅) as a member of Red Mission joined the party singing one of Cheung’s song “4 season” (春夏秋冬) as a tribute to Cheung. In the same month, another fans club, United Leslie also celebrated the big day of this renowned star. United Leslie organised an exhibition and movie screening of Cheung's two selected movies in PMQ, Central of Hong Kong.
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|1984||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Monica"||Won|
|1985||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Wild Wind" (不羈的風)||Won|
|1986||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Past Love" (當年情)||Won|
|1987||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Sleepless Night" (無心睡眠)||Won|
|Best CD||Summer Romance||Won|
|Sales Award (Best-Selling Album of the Year)||Summer Romance||Won|
|1988||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Silence is Golden" (沉默是金)||Won|
|Top 10 Gold Songs||"Don’t Need Too Much" (無需要太多)||Won|
|1999||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Left Right Hand" (左右手)||Won|
|Golden Needle Award||Himself||Won|
|2000||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Big Heat" (大熱)||Won|
|2002||Silver Jubilee Award||Himself||Won|
|1983||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Wind Blows On" (風繼續吹)||Nominated|
|1985||"Wild Wind" (不羈的風)||Won|
|1986||"Past Love" (當年情)||Won|
|"Who Resonates With Me" (有誰共鳴)||Won|
|Gold Song Gold Award (Best Song of the Year)||Won|
|1987||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Sleepless Night" (無心睡眠)||Won|
|Gold Song Gold Award (Best Song of the Year)||Won|
|1988||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Silence is Golden"(沉默是金)||Won|
|Most Popular Male Artist||Himself||Won|
|1989||Top 10 Gold Songs||"Starting from Zero" (由零开始)||Won|
|Most Popular Male Artist||Himself||Won|
|2000||Four Channel Award (Best Album of the Year)||Untitled||Won|
|1988||Ultimate Song Chart Awards||Ultimate Male Artist Gold Award||Himself||Won|
|IFPI Award||Side Face (側面)||Won|
|1999||Ultimate Song Award (No. 1 Song of the Year)||"Left Right Hand"(左右手)||Won|
|Metro Radio Hit Music Awards||Metro Radio Hit Song of the Year||Won|
|Metro Radio Top 10 Hit Songs||Won|
|2000||CCTV-MTV Music Honours||Asia's Biggest Superstar||Himself||Won|
|2001||Chinese Pop Music Media Awards||Best Male Singer||Won|
|1983||Best Actor||Nomad (烈火青春)||Nominated|
|1988||A Better Tomorrow 2 (英雄本色2)||Nominated|
|Best Original Film Song||A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂)||Nominated|
|1989||Best Actor||Rouge (胭脂扣)||Nominated|
|1991||Days of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)||Won|
|1994||Best Original Film Song||The Bride With White Hair (白髮魔女傳)||Nominated|
|1995||Best Actor||He's a Woman, She's a Man (金枝玉葉)||Nominated|
|Best Original Film Song||Won|
|1996||The Phantom Lover (夜半歌聲)||Nominated|
|1997||Best Actor||Viva Erotica (色情男女)||Nominated|
|Best Original Film Song||Who's the Woman, Who's the Man? (金枝玉葉2)||Nominated|
|1998||Best Actor||Happy Together (春光乍洩)||Nominated|
|2003||Inner Senses (異度空間)||Nominated|
|1991||Best Actor||Days of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)||Nominated|
|1993||Best Original Song||The Bride With White Hair (白髮魔女傳)||Won|
|1994||He's a Woman, She's a Man (金枝玉葉)||Nominated|
|1995||The Phantom Lover (夜半歌聲)||Nominated|
|1996||Best Actor||Temptress Moon (風月)||Nominated|
|Best Original Song||Nominated|
|Who's the Woman, Who's the Man? (金枝玉葉2)||Nominated|
|1997||Best Actor||Happy Together (春光乍洩)||Nominated|
|2000||Double Tap (鎗王)||Nominated|
|2002||Inner Senses (異度空間)||Nominated|
|1991||Asia Pacific Film Festival||Best Actor||Days of Being Wild (阿飛正傳)||Nominated|
|1993||Cannes Film Festival||Farewell My Concubine (霸王別姬)||Nominated|
|1994||Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards||Ashes of Time (東邪西毒)||Won|
|Japan Film Critics Society||Farewell My Concubine||Won|
|Venice Film Festival||Ashes of Time||Nominated|
|1996||Cannes Film Festival||Temptress Moon (風月)||Nominated|
|1997||Cannes Film Festival||Happy Together (春光乍洩)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Male Singer||Won|
|2002||Best Actor||Inner Senses (異度空間)||Won|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leslie Cheung.|
|Awards and achievements|
|Hong Kong Film Awards|
Chow Yun-Fat for All About Ah Long
1991 for Days of Being Wild
Eric Tsang for Alan and Eric Between Hello and Goodbye
|Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards|
|RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards|
|Golden Needle Award
|Jade Solid Gold Best Ten Music Awards|
|Most Popular Male Artist
|Ultimate Song Chart Awards|
|Ultimate Male Artist Gold Award
|Ming Pao Power Academy Awards|
2000 (& Andy Lau)
|Outstanding Male Singer
Andy Lau for Love on a Diet
|Outstanding Actor in Film
2002 for Inner Senses
Andy Lau for Running on Karma