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Barbara Yung Mei-ling
Chinese name 翁美玲
Birth name Barbara Yung Mei-ling
Born 7 May 1959(1959-05-07)
Hong Kong, China
Died 14 May 1985 (aged 26) (Suicide)
Hong Kong
Resting place Cambridge, United Kingdom
Occupation actress
Years active 1982–1985

Barbara Yung Mei-ling (7 May 1959 – 14 May 1985) was a Chinese television actress in Hong Kong during the early 1980s. She died aged 26, at the peak of her career. Yung was born in Hong Kong to an affluent civil service family as an only child. Her childhood was relatively uneventful until the death of her father when she was aged 7.



Yung left Hong Kong for England at age 15 (in late 1974) to re-join her mother and stepfather (TVB K100, 1985). Her mother had immigrated to England two years earlier. While in Hong Kong, Yung attended Rosaryhill School (located at Stubbs Road in Hong Kong), where she had completed her primary and some of her secondary education (TVB K100, 1985). She continued with her GCE O levels at a high school in Cambridge. Upon the completion of her O levels, she was admitted to a 2-year foundations program offered by the University of Cambridge. Upon the completion of this program, she went to London to study textile design at the prestigious Central School of Art & Design. She spent 4 years at this art school (TVB K100, 1985).

Beginning of career

Yung returned to Hong Kong and joined the Miss Hong Kong pageant in 1982, in which she was awarded 9th place (TVB, Miss Hong Kong, 1982). After the pageant, she was offered an acting contract by Hong Kong Television Broadcasts (TVB). She made her acting debut in 1982, in a Cantonese Wuxia series named Sup Sam Mui (The Legend of the Unknowns) based on the Ching Dynasty period, co-starring Kent Tong Chun-yip and Simon Yam Tat-wah in which Yung styled as a Manchurian princess, Seung Kak-kak (TVB K100, 1985). This was the TV series that shot her into the limelight. Although Yung played a relatively small role in this TV series, she managed to gain TVB's confidence to cast her in what would become the TV series (The Legend of the Condor Heroes) that would make her a household name in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in the 1980s. Her popularity persists through present day due to her lead role in The Legend of the Condor Heroes (TVB K100, 1985).

Ascension to fame

Yung's most famous TVB swordplay series was The Legend of the Condor Heroes in which she portrayed the character Wong Yung. TVB made several costumed/period dramas in the 1980s based on famous martial arts swordplay novels by Louis Cha. Cha's The Legend of the Condor Heroes, has been adapted numerous times to TV dramas and film, but none has attained a popularity as the one made by TVB in 1983. The innocent swordsman, Kwok-jing was played by Felix Wong Yat-wah. The cast in this edition also featured Michael Miu Kiu-wai, Sharon Yang Pan-pan, Patrick Tse and Louise Lee Shut-ki.

Yung's other TV series included: The Foundation, The Sandwich Man, The Fearless Duo, United We Stand, The Adventures of Chor Lau Heung, The Rough Ride and The Battlefield.


Yung was found unconscious due to gas inhalation in her apartment on Broadcast Drive, Kowloon in the morning of 14 May 1985 (Spiritus Temporis, 2007). According to her friend and actor (who was rumored to have begun courting Yung), Stephen Chow Sai-lung, Yung had called him on the night of 13 May 1985. Chow asserted that she was troubled by her failing relationship with Kent Tong. After hanging up, Chow was concerned and he went to her home. However, he could not gain entrance to her apartment. He then thought that nobody was home and subsequently left. Chow returned to Yung's apartment on the morning of 14 May 1985. He knocked on Yung's door again but no one answered. Chow said he smelled gas fumes through Yung's apartment door. He then climbed up the exterior apartment building wall to her second floor apartment and pried open her front window. He entered Yung's apartment (from the window) and discovered her unconscious and sprawled on the living room floor. Chow immediately alerted the building's security and police. Yung was rushed to the nearby Baptist Hospital, Kowloon where she was pronounced dead on arrival. There were many rumors regarding the cause of her death. Some had attributed it to an accident, suicide or perhaps even foul play. One of the most widely circulated rumors was that her suicide was the result of her depression over her supposed broken relationship with then TVB actor, Kent Tong. (It is to be noted that in an interview conducted by a Hong Kong radio station on 14 March 1985, when asked about rumors regarding her relationship with Kent Tong, Yung had explained that he was merely a friend and respected colleague.) The rumors concerning the association of her death with Kent Tong were largely based on Stephen Chow's account of her last 24 hours. There were also rumors which claimed that Stephen Chow was Yung's boyfriend. According to Yung's TVB colleagues, she had not behaved abnormally in the days before the incident and that there was no hint that she was depressed or suicidal. Yung also sounded very optimistic about her future in her radio interviews both on 14 March 1985 and one conducted two weeks before her death. Yung did not leave a suicide note. At the time of her death, Yung was involved in filming the TVB drama, The Battlefield. Filming was due to conclude in June 1985. This lead role was later replaced by Idy Chan Yuk-lin.

Yung's funeral was a big event and was attended by throngs of fans and many prominent Hong Kong celebrities. Her remains were situated at the World Funeral Parlor, Hung Hum, Kowloon for fans and friends to pay their final respect. Her friends and co-stars in her TV dramas such as Miu Kiu-wai, Felix Wong, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Andy Lau were pallbearers for her casket. Yung had a Catholic funeral. She was cremated in Hong Kong on 19 May 1985 and her ashes are laid to rest at the New Market Road Cemetery in Cambridge, England (You Tube, Fan Video, 2007).

TV series

  • The Legend of the Unknowns aka Sup Sam Mui, January 1983
  • The Legend of the Condor Heroes series, February 1983
  • The Sandwich Man, November 1983
  • The Foundation, November 1983
  • The Fearless Duo, March 1984
  • United We Stand, May 1984
  • The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung, November 1984
  • The Rough Ride, April 1985
  • The Battlefield, April 1985


External links

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