Fair Lady

May 02, 2009
*Special to asia!
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She is often called the most beautiful Chinese woman alive. No doubt Zhang Ziyi, who considers herself a great beauty, will disagree, but if a poll is taken, there is a good chance Brigitte Lin Qingxia will walk away with the top prize.

Turning 52 on November 3 and still dazzling, the Taiwan-born Lin burst upon the movie scene as an 18-year-old with a look so out of the ordinary that she was immediately pegged as superstar material. Her numerous movies, from the hopelessly romantic films of her early career to the mysterious costume fantasies that came later, did little to show off her acting skills. But that hardly mattered. Like Audrey Hepburn or Joan Crawford, the audience flocked to the cinemas to simply see her and not to see her act.

Lin was romantically linked with various leading Chinese actors of her day but never considered marriage until she met Michael Ying. Ying, like most Chinese men his age, had been secretly in love with Lin for decades. He pursued her relentlessly. The day after the meeting he reportedly sent an entire collection of Esprit clothing to her apartment. They were married in a glittering wedding in 1994 in San Francisco. The details of the wedding filled the entertainment pages in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China for two weeks. They now live in Hong Kong where Lin gave birth to two daughters, in 1997 and 2001. Despite her fame, Lin seldom showed up at Esprit functions. The one time she did—at the opening of Esprit Taiwan dressed in a two-piece pink ensemble—she created a huge traffic jam and generated overwhelming demand for the same outfit.

Lin retired from moviemaking after her marriage. In 2002 her mother committed suicide after a long and painful illness, her father died early this year. Recently there were rumours of cracks in her marriage, and talk of her returning to Taiwan. Lin, however, has put the flat she bought for her father in Taipei up for sale. She is also building a huge mansion in Hong Kong with Ying—the couple bought five adjoining houses and redeveloped them as one, with more than 70,000 sq ft of interior space. The actress who hates to get up early is also seen on the morning golf courses, bundled up tightly accompanying her golf crazy husband on his rounds.

Much to the delight of her fans, Lin has recently given hints that she might return to the silver screen once again. She might partner Ang Lee, Oscar winning director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, for a new movie. Zhang Ziyi, eat your heart out.


lee han shihLee Han Shih is the founder, publisher and editor of asia! Magazine.


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