Saturday, 10 September 2016

Barbara Yung's letters part 1: Chor Lau Heung

Barbara and Michael during a CLH 1984 press conference

I've been wondering for a while how Barbara was when she was alive. I wrote in May that she might suffer depression during her last months. But what of her in the beginning and midst of her career? What of her before that? Rob Radboud said that Barbara was a gentle person who would sacrifice everything for love. I watched a small documentary with her talking, she looked lovely and lively. But is there another way of understanding her aside from those sources?

Then it occurred to me after reading some unrelated (duh) letters of Van Gogh. Letters! Jane Austen left letters that made us understand who she was, what she was like. Also Van Gogh, and other authors/artists. Nowadays we can glimpse what a person is like through their social media postings. But letters are truer, for they are not intended for public viewing. Of course, unlike reading letters of Jane Austen or Van Gogh who had passed away centuries ago, it's more of a breach of privacy to read letters of the deceased when they passed away not long ago (Barbara is in this category). But Barbara's letters are already available online from Rob's website (previously hosted at, hence I feel okay in discussing them here.

To me, these two looked very much alike in those days...

Ideally, I should start from her pre-TVB era, progressing towards the LOCH year and CLH year. However, CLH is my number one favourite TVB series (if you can't tell yet from this blog), hence I'm jumping right to June 1984 when she started to shoot CLH with Michael until 27 November 1984 when CLH was already aired in Hong Kong. Barbara (or Lui Lui, Nui or "Baby Daughter" as she called herself) seemed to like Chor Lau Heung; four out of five of her published letters in 1984 mentioned this series. Those letters are posted below with the traditional Chinese version after my comments on those letters. I post this article using my iPad, hence no link (too difficult) and not enough photos. I will fix it when I have time in the next few days.

In one of her letters, Barbara told her mother about her early morning shoots where her part wasn't essential so she could slightly relax (letter 20 September 1984). Barbara planned to send her mother some CLH post (magazine? Newspapers? Post cards?) but she forgot, and she asked whether her mother had seen the series (letter 27 November 1984). Barbara also said that working on an ancient series in the summer is difficult (Letter June 1984; they shot LOCH in the winter of 1982/1983, by the way). Once, she was bitten by mosquitoes such that her face swollen red (letter 27 Oct 1984) but she couldn't stop working because they were on a deadline. I don't recall any scenes where her face was red, though; they might have a good make up artist. She also mentioned Michael's plan to not extend his TVB contract once it expired, but she asked her mother to keep it a secret (letter 20 September 1984).

The letters also gave me more understanding of the beautiful soul that was Barbara. She repeatedly asked her mother, uncle and Shela (her uncle's wife) to take care of themselves, including having the doors properly locked and taking care of their health. She asked her uncle to call her mother every so often to ensure that she was okay. As a family, they often exchanged gifts (including from and for Ken Tong). Barbara was buoyant in her June and September 1984 letters. Yet, she mentioned about Kent in October 1984 letter; it seemed she referred to the end of their relationship (or the starting of its end), but she was more pensive instead of sad. The tone of her November letter was better, perhaps because she was selected as one of the Top Ten TV Stars and she'd go to the City Hall for an (the?) award. Or perhaps because she was able to (temporarily) fix her problems with Kent.

Wasn't my darling girl gorgeous...?

Speaking of Kent, of course he was often mentioned in her letters. Yet, I can't help noticing that Michael was mentioned every so often too. Her LOCH letters mentioned both Felix and Michael, then she would regularly  mention Michael as she continued working with him.

Below are the letters from June, September, October and November 1984 from Rob Radboud's site. I will hopefully post her previous letters on LOCH 1983 next week and fhe Foundation and Fearless Duo the week after (2 Oct 2016: I've posted the LOCH letters here!).


Letter June 1984

Dear Mommy, Uncle & Shela,

Came back for just a few days, & I have started to work for "The New Adventure of Chor Lau Heung". It's really tough to work for ancient drama in hot sunny days.  I have visited an Indian fortune teller who only knows palm-reading in Singapore. Though he didn't know who I was, he could read my past correctly. How amazing was it! I really hope that what he said will come true in the future. He said that I would have another great change when I am 27 & I would reach another peak in my life, He also gave me some advices & forecast. All I can do is to keep all his words in my heart, & see if they will come true in the future. After all, I will be 27 in one year & more. Sometimes, I can't believe I am that old! I find that I am much mature than before in these two years, & my viewpoints towards people & things have changed. This is the process of growing up, right? Thanks God, I am doing great, so don't worry about me.

Mommy has just been to USA, have fun? Originally, Ah Wu wanted to go to UK at the end of this month, but that plan was over. Thus, I asked the daughter of Uncle Leung to bring the stuffs for you all, including camera lens, kid clothing & one pair of swanks for mommy. The big swank represents mommy, & the small one is me, hehee! I have received the pictures from uncle, BB is much bigger & chubbier! I love the picture in which BB wore a hat most, he is just like a doll! I believe he has been spoilt by you all. Anyway, I wish you all healthy, & please take good care. Shela, how are you? Next time, are we going to have a baby girl? Please say hi to Dad!


Letter 22■星洲找印度相土看掌~84年間 Visit Indian fortune teller in Singapore






Letter 20 September 1984

20 Sept 1984

Dear Mommy, Uncle & Shela,
     This morning I got up very early for outdoor scenes. Fortunately, it is not as hot as before & my part is not the focus, so I can relax a little bit. The production is expected to end in December, but another 40 episodes of a modern drama will take place consecutively. They add up to 80 episodes all together. I think I can not have vacations until next year. Anyway, there will be dramatic change in TVB next year. The Kin Sing production warehouse will be moved to Siu Si, so I may need to buy a car, how troublesome! Moreover, many artists will not renew their contracts with TVB after their contracts expire, including &y Lau, Miu Kiu Wah (Please do not spread this news) & Ken.  It surely will be a big headache to TVB. Anyway, sometimes change is good. For me, I need to earn as much money as I can within these two years in case the environment in TVB becomes tough.

      Regarding security at home, mommy, you really needs to be alert. Do not open the door without identifying the person, & be cautious not to be followed by stalkers. You really make us worry. Uncle, please take care of mommy. Even if you can not go to the new house, please call mommy often. I feel so guilty for doing nothing from distance apart. Uncle, thanks for your help. Mommy, when will you plan to travel to China next year? Please let me know by mail. Also, Uncle, how's your passport? You should do something about it. Now Chu Yu ( Remark: I believe Chu Yu is Barbara's cousin, her uncle's son, " Chu Yu" means spring rain in Chinese)should have British passport, so why don't you ask a lawyer regarding your situation?

      The other day I said that I wanted a god-son, & I immediately thought of your son. How about let him be my god-son? Heehee, I thought mommy might have volunteered before me. Shela, how are you? Please take care of Uncle. Okay, please say hi to Dad.

20th Sep, 1984

  Letter 20■盼望有個契仔~84/09/20  攝於英國黑池 Wanted to have a "god-son"




有一天說起想要個契仔,突然想起你仔仔,不如就契比我啦,嘻嘻,相信媽咪定比我更早留定,Shela,好嗎?請多照顧舅舅,好了,請代問候老豆。                                                                            女兒囡囡上


Letter 27 October 1984

Dear Mummy, Uncle, Shela:

Candies, clothes, shirts and glasses case Uncle's wife brought back all received. As I was busy, so I only had a tea drinking with her once. She was hurried to leave for mainland. We've arranged to meet again after her back. I'm too busy recently and I was badly bitten by poison mosquito on outdoor shooting last week, whole face red and swell, haven't recovered by now. it broke out again today, because I have to work when it hadn't been fully cured, it occurred up to now. The new adventure of Chor Lau Heung is arranged to release by mid-November, so I can hardly to halt the work. But it is believed that's no way not to see doctor currently. It's so called unexpected outbreak, in addition, everything getting well, don't miss me.

Is everything fine in home these days? Please keep door safely. Uncle, even if you're not free, you'd better to give a phone call to Mummy sometime so as to keep us from worrying about her. I believe the baby must cost you lots of time and hard work, and seeing his growth, it's just the cost of all your hard work, is it? I'm tired and irritated recently, probably I began to suspect my feeling after seeing fortune teller. I don't know if I just borrow trouble at that time, they said I'm sentimental, but I know my analysis is correct. It's just a struggle between sense and sensibility. Kent is very kind to me. So what can I do to a man who didn't do anything wrong, only let it go naturally. Wish I'll be happy under the arrangement of the fate. I often blame myself not to write to ask after you regularly, please forgive me, I'll try to write, just as I was busy and not feeling well these days, Mummy please don't blame me! You should take care of yourself. I'm very worried about you and miss you. It's getting cold, health is important, please convey my regards to Daddy, Shela. Uncle, take care too.

Baby daughter

(translated by Ben, 19-11-2012)






Letter 27 November 1984

Dear Mummy, Uncle, Shela:

How are you! Hope you like the present Sister Seung took to you. I have no idea what to buy because I bought in a hurry. In addition, I forgot to ask her to take back some post of The New Adventure of Chor Lau Heung too, I have to let Mummy to take back next time you come. Mum you don't need to take money and other things (like Santa Claus) when you come back. Please buy a Scottish checked JACKET short suit for me, because checked jacket is popular as well as those traditional pattern shirts, so this old pattern shirt became fashionable, cost above HKD 500-600 each. It's cold later this year, one sweater is enough, and it'll be colder one month after.

Now the New Adventure of Chor Lau Heung has been played on TV, have you watched? I may go to mainland for three days on 6th of December and return on 9th to open a fashion drama. Another one, I was selected as one of the top 10 TV star again this year and I'll go to City Hall to receive Golden global, are you happy for me? Now the only hope is to join a movie in the next year to satisfy my wish. It's so fast, I've worked in TVB for two and a half years, I always think of time when I entered the field, it was so different with today. Make me feeling I should grasp all of what I have had, because all of this may easily possessed by another one. For "Sink or Swim" makes me worry, fortunately things are going all right temporary, thanks to God, hope he will bless our family, wish you health in physical and mental, and please take care of yourself.

* money you sent me to the surrogate mother, Miss Ng, I won't give them on behalf of you currently, it is better left to you to give them when you come.

Baby Daughter
November 27, 1984
(translated by Ben)


你們好!希望賞姐帶去的禮物,你們喜歡。小小心意。因為買得太匆忙,一時也想不起買甚麼好。此外,應還托帶些楚留香的海報,但也忘了,只有下次媽咪回來時拿去好了,媽咪今次回來,不用帶錢和太多東西(每次都像聖誕老人似的)。如可以的,請買件蘇格蘭格仔JACKET 短西裝褸一件,因今年流行格仔褸和以前很傳統花紋恤衫,所以妳以前的這種圖素恤衫變了時興,要賣五、六百多元一件,今年凍得比較遲一點,現在我們穿一件毛衣已夠,相信再一個月或許會冷一點。







City Hunter said...

I´m watching Chor Lau Heung for the first time and I´m loving every episode so far, I´m on episode 28. Barbara and Michael had big chemistry together and Sharon Yeung was also amazing on it.

City Hunter said...

Big fan of your blog, I´ve been following for quite some time

Icha said...

Hi City Hunter (lol, I also love that series!),

Thanks a lot for your encouraging words... It's been a while since I watched CLH, but it remains my favourite MB series...

I love Sharon Yeung there too, btw, she's such a good actress...