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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ruan.
Ruan Lingyu
Ruan Linyu02.jpg
Ruan in a magazine cover
Chinese name 阮玲玉 (Traditional)
Chinese name 阮玲玉 (Simplified)
Birth name Ruan Fenggen (阮鳳根)
Born April 26, 1910(1910-04-26)
Shanghai, Jiangsu, China
Died March 8, 1935 (aged 24)
Shanghai, China
Other name(s) Lily Yuen
Ruan Yuyin (阮玉英)
Years active 1927–1935

Ruan Lingyu (Chinese: 阮玲玉pinyin: Ruǎn Língyù; April 26, 1910 – March 8, 1935), born Ruan Fenggen (阮凤根), was a Chinese silent film actress. One of the most prominent Chinese film stars of the 1930s, her tragic death at the age of 24 led her to become an icon of Chinese cinema.



Born in Shanghai in 1910, Ruan made her first film at the age of 16 for the then prominent Mingxing Film Studio. She was brought up by her mother who worked as a house maid to provide for her. Her first big break came in Spring Dream of an Old Capital (故都春梦 or Reminiscences of Beijing, 1930). A massive hit, it was her first major work after signing for the newly-formed Lianhua Studio.

Thereafter Ruan became the company's major film star. Her best works came after 1931, starting with the melodrama Love and Duty (戀愛與義務, 1931) (directed by Bu Wancang). Beginning with Three Modern Women (三个摩登女性, 1932; dir: Bu Wanchang), Ruan started collaborating with a group of talented leftist directors; most of her subsequent films have a strong socialist slant to them. In Little Toys (小玩意, 1933), a film by Sun Yu, Ruan played a long-suffering toy-maker. Her next film, Shennü (神女, The Goddess, 1934; dir: Wu Yonggang), is often hailed as the pinnacle of Chinese silent cinema, with Ruan's portrayal of a sympathetic prostitute bringing up a child one of the classics of the era. Later that year, Ruan made her penultimate film, New Women (新女性), with director Cai Chusheng, where she played an educated Shanghai woman forced to death by an unfeeling society. A final film, National Custom (國風) was released shortly after her death.



Following the completion of New Women, Ruan's life began to unravel. The film opened in February 1935, Shanghai. Cai Chusheng, under massive pressure from street tabloids, who were retaliating for a scathing depiction of them in New Women, was forced to make extensive cuts to the film. Even then, Ruan's private life was mercilessly seized upon by tabloids and her on-going lawsuit with her first husband became a source of vindictive coverage. Faced with these public issues as well as with intense private problems, Ruan poisoned herself with an overdose of barbiturates in Shanghai on March 8, 1935, at the age of 24. Her released death note apparently contained a line which says "Gossip Is a fearful thing", although some have doubted the note's authenticity. Her funeral procession was reportedly three miles long, with three women committing suicide during the event.[1] Even China's preeminent intellectual Lu Xun was appalled at the details surrounding Ruan's death and wrote an essay, entitled "Gossip is a Fearful Thing", denouncing the tabloids.[2]

In 1992, Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan made a movie about her life, Centre Stage, starring Maggie Cheung as Ruan Lingyu.

Selected filmography

  • The Couple in Name (掛名的夫妻, 1927)
  • The White Cloud Pagoda (白雲塔, 1928)
  • Suicide Contract (自殺合同, 1929)
  • Jie hou gu hong (劫後孤鴻, 1929)
  • Qing yu bao jian (情欲寶鑑, 1929)
  • Reminiscence of Peking (故都春梦, 1930)
  • Wild Flowers (野草閒花, 1930)
  • A Spray of Plum Blossoms (一剪梅, 1931)
  • Peach Blossom Weeps Tears of Blood (桃花泣血記, 1931)
  • Love and Duty (戀愛與義務, 1931)
  • Little Toys (小玩意, 1933)
  • Three Modern Women (三个摩登女性, 1933)
  • Goodbye, Shanghai (再會吧,上海, 1934)
  • A Sea of Fragrant Snow (香雪海, 1934)
  • The Goddess (神女, 1934)
  • New Women (新女性, 1934)
  • National Custom (國風, 1935)

See also


  1. ^ Cousins, Mark (2004-11-21), "The Asian aesthetic", Prospect (104),, retrieved 2009-11-14  
  2. ^ Yu, Wentao (2006-04-07), "Tragic Goddess", China Daily,, retrieved 2009-11-14  

External links

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