One of the most prominent pioneers of Cantopop, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing (张国荣), was a legendary Hong Kong actor, singer, and performer. Known in the 1980s for his flamboyant and often outrageous stage appearance, Cheung ventured into acting in the 1990s and quickly was recognized for his portrayal of queer characters in the then-conservative film industry. His career was praised and criticized by those who chose to focus on his sexual orientation and androgynous persona, rather than his talent.
Many may have yet to learn that Cheung moved to Vancouver in 1990 and became a Canadian citizen by naturalization.
A Career of Achievements
Having achieved widespread recognition, Cheung as an actor in the 1990s played a womanizer in Days of Being Wild (1990) which saw his character pining for the return of his estranged mother. A role that won him Best Actor at the 1991 Hong Kong Film Awards. Then his role as a gay Peking opera actor in Farewell My Concubine (1993) catapulted him to prominence in the Western world.
Cheung’s reputation as a queer celebrity was furthered with his role in Happy Together (1997), a dramatic film with a gay male relationship at its core. In 1996, he released the album Red, which was noted for its sonic experimentation and graphic imagery. Cheung was awarded the Golden Needle Award, the highest distinction of the RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards 1999. At mainland China’s CCTV/MTV Music Honours in 2000, Cheung was honoured with the announcement that he was Asia’s Biggest Superstar.
Loss of a Superstar
Tragically, Cheung died by suicide in April 2003 by jumping off the Hotel Mandarin Oriental after having been diagnosed with severe clinical depression.
In 2007, Leslie Cheung’s fans donated a Leslie Cheung Memorial Chair in Stanley Park, and it is a gathering place for those in Vancouver to commemorate him every year on the first of April.
Commemorating a Life Lost Too Soon
To honour Cheung’s memory and achievements, Chinese luxury jewellery company Lao Feng Xiang (three locations in BC) released a new series of exclusive commemorative limited-edition coins on the 20th anniversary of his passing. Cheung’s impact on his followers was profound, extending beyond his artistry as an actor and singer to his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and mental health awareness. He spoke to a generation of young people struggling with identity, love, and loss, conveying complex emotions through his performances. Cheung’s music and films have a timeless quality that inspires and comforts his fans, and his legacy has endured long after his passing.
Fans worldwide have found ways to commemorate Cheung’s life and work through online tributes, virtual concerts, and social media campaigns. The 20th anniversary of his death is a reminder of this artistry’s enduring power and his fans’ love.
Two Gorgeous Sets
The Leslie Cheung Commemorative Coin is customized and made to order, with an eight-digit serial number on each coin that the purchaser can personalize.
The Rose Edition is crafted in plated silver and features Leslie’s portrait on one side and a stunning rose motif on the other. Etched into the portrait is “Leslie Forever” paying tribute to his lasting legacy as one of the world’s most versatile and meaningful artists.
The Origami Crane edition is featured in Sterling Silver with a handsome portrait and a red origami crane that has been a long symbol of love and prayers for the beloved actor.
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- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at email@example.com.
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