Former Hong Kong Actress, Michelle Sima, Passes Away from Cancer

By on January 13, 2015 in NEWS


Michelle Sima (司馬燕), a former Hong Kong actress and beauty queen, lost her battle to stomach cancer on January 10, 2015. She was 51 years old. A close family friend shared that Michelle was taken to the hospital after she was found unconscious early Saturday morning. She later died peacefully in her sleep.

Michelle launched her showbiz career in 1980 when she competed in the Miss Hong Kong Pageant. She was one of the top choices to play Huang Rong in the TVB wuxia classic Legend of the Condor Heroes <射鵰英雄傳>, but ultimately lost that role to Barbara Yung (翁美玲). She starred in many Hong Kong films, where she came to be known as one of Hong Kong’s hottest sex symbols.

In 1996, she married Indonesian Chinese businessman Togi Gouw (吳忠義) and retired from the film industry. She briefly managed the acting career of her eldest son Ian Gouw (吳澋滔), who became a famous child star after starring alongside Aaron Kwok (郭富城) in the 2006 film After This Our Exile <父子>. Ian won Best Supporting Actor and Best Newcomer at the 2006 Hong Kong Film Awards when he was only nine years old.

After news broke of Michelle’s passing, many friends mourned her death. Her husband Togi was in denial and refused to release an official statement about her passing. Reportedly, Togi wanted to keep the news of her death as low profile as possible. As Togi is not part of the entertainment industry, he finds it unnecessary to share his family’s bereavement to the public.

Michelle was optimistic, courageous, and prepared when facing her battle with cancer. Diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2012, Michelle sold her properties in Mainland China to pay for her treatment fees, which cost at least $10 million HKD. As a result, her family did not have to suffer from any financial losses.

While Michelle was hospitalized, she refused visits from her friends. She did not want her friends to see an uglier, weaker side of her. Instead, she wanted them to remember how she was when she was still beautiful and healthy.

Last December, Michelle returned home to celebrate Christmas with her family and took her last family portrait with her husband and two sons, Ian and Brian.

Michelle once expressed that she wanted her family, friends, and relatives to hold a big party after she died. She did not want people to cry in her memory, but to have fun, and to remember her most beautiful and happiest moments.


This article is written by Addy for

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  • 24 comments to Former Hong Kong Actress, Michelle Sima, Passes Away from Cancer

    1. Hannahh says:

      RIP!! She look so elegance on the above pic.

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    2. Chloe Lee says:


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    3. honey says:

      An amazing lady who had wholeheartedly dedicated her life to her family despite the early fame she gained from Hong Kong entertainment industry. She was a great role model.

      My deepest condolence to the family!

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    4. jc says:

      Not to be cruel or anything but apart from from the cancer, she had a good life. Compared to others like Barbara yung. A successful career, beauty, a family that loved her

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      • HeTieShou replied:

        I know what you mean,but that is life for you. Everyone has a different life,fate and destiny. But it is always sad to see any good person passing away.

        Anyways,may she rest in peace.

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      • nomad 822 replied:

        Agree, shorter life but with much better quality. She did have a really good life as a comfortable upper class modern tai-tai type, it wasn’t just superficial pretence of happiness which often can be the case with many rich society wives.

        Her husband genuinely seemed to dote on her, even after all these years.

        Very tastefully-classy and elegant patient who always maintained that beautiful smile to the very end.

        Much luckier in that she met an educated guy who cherished and loved her throughout, from start to end. She seemed the center of his universe and was his princess for so many years. They enjoyed a happy family life.

        The couple even had more belated wedding shots taken last year in Europe.

        Her marriage provided her a very cushy family life and happy family. The family of 4 regularly travelled to many places, had vacation homes everywhere and seemed always enjoying each other’s company. Which is way more than what many wealthy socialites can really say.

        Despite him being successful/her a stay-home socialite type.
        They also did not seem lead the typical crass Chinese- HK socialite life (as in he was a Westernised-Chinese, with a padded wealthy background).

        Both of them seemed always hands-on with their kids, and very involved as parents. The close-knit happy family of 4 was always photographed together, be it kid or social events.

        She seemed a graceful class-act to the end, both in and out. With a smile that always radiated with genuine family happiness.
        On top of the happy family life she lead, she was also lucky to have close long term friendships with girl-friends in the entertainment industry.

        In the Chinese articles I read over the past yr since she was diagnosed, she seemed serenely accepting of what was coming in these past 2 yrs of battle. One day hopefully, her husband Togi and her 2 sons will be at peace with her passing too.

        The couple-family seem to have many beautiful family m’ries to remember her by, down to their last romantic trip to Europe last year to have wedding pictures taken yet again.

        Used to seeing only pictures of happiness radiating from their family over the years; it was very shocking when news articles of her being very ill came out last yr, and to see she suddenly had now completely silver hair almost overnight. Which of course, she took in her stride with such classy elegance, and with no drama.

        Someone who was always full of life and who remained always classy and graceful as a patient, even as she gradually became scarily skeleton-thin.

        Hopefully her family (and esp husband Togi) will come to terms with the knowledge that she is now peacefully released from 2 yrs of painful battle, in a better place. RIP.

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        • Kidd replied:

          She herself must be an amazing woman to have a husband so devoted to her and close friendship with girlfriends lasting for decades.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        Well you know cancer is a Party spoiler.

        Many have pretty good lives if not for that pesky thing called death. My condolences to her children.

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    5. bloom says:

      Yes, I remember her being beautiful. Yes, may she rests in peace.

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    6. Kidd says:

      Such a nice thoughtful person.


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    7. nomad 822 says:

      I read of her death yesterday. It was rumored, but her husband didn’t want to confirm it.

      Don’t recall her as an actress, but always found her impressionable in the ent-magazine photos in social events.

      She always looked genuinely happy, not the kind of ‘put-on happy show’ for media.

      Always elegant, with a very good sense of style. She maintained that right to the last – a very beautiful cancer patient, thin but still very attractive and with a beautiful smile.

      She married very well, and her husband Togi doted on her/their sons – whether or not she had sold the properties, her husband was pretty well-off. Sons in international school and they were always travelling or the family in social events.

      It’s not quantity but quality.
      Although her life was shorter than most (and it’s hard on the family who loves her) – but she seemed to lead a happy life, with a successful husband who made time to be by her side all the time and lived life to the fullest surrounded by real happiness.

      I read that Sima Yan herself had said she probably would not live past 50, as her 43 yr old sister, her dad and someone else had all died early before her. The cancer gene seemed very dominant in her family.


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      • Nigel replied:

        Yes indeed. She has a wonderful life albeit a little short. Such a wonderful & loving husband that genuinely dotes on her. Can tell from the pictures they took together & the romantic Europe trip where they walked down the aisle together to celebrate their 17th anniversary. And of course her 2 handsome boys. She said her greatest achievement in this life was 3 ACES (her hubby & 2 boys) which I tend to agree indeed. Better to have a quality than a quantity life since you can see that her loved ones genuinely love her esp her hubby even after all these years. RIP

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    8. Meg says:

      shes beautiful. rip

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    9. Jessica says:

      She was known as Tse Ma Yin during her active years. RIP

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    10. freedalas says:

      Rest In Peace, Michelle. Though your TV and movie career was relatively short, you left a very deep impression with us. We enjoyed your dramas and movies a lot. Thank you for the memories. We are also heartened to know that you had a close-knit and lovely family. That alone is an achievement!

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    11. HeTieShou says:

      She looks familiar but I do not remember her name. Was she in any Tvb series back then?

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      • Ross replied:


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      • llwy12 replied:

        @HTS: Yes, she was in a few TVB series, mostly in the 80s and mostly small roles. In fact, TVB is re-airing one of those series this week in memory of her (1989’s star-studded anniversary mini-series “I Do I Do”).

        I was actually quite saddened to hear of Michelle’s passing. Her acting career may have been short-lived, but she was a beautiful woman inside and out. May she rest in peace.

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        • Ross replied:

          @llwy12….good to hear that. Thx for the info.

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        • HeTieShou replied:

          @llwy12 and Ross,
          Thanks for confirming that she was in Tvb series during the 80s since I remember seeing her face but did not know her name. She seemed like a very beautiful person inside out. It is sad that she is gone but she at least lived a fulfilling and hsppy life. It is much better to live a short and happy life rather than a sad and long life. May she rest in peace and my deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

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      • Ross replied:

        @HTS, yes she did a couple of TVB series as I recalled …..She was indeed beautiful, well dressed & elegant looking…..& that’s exactly what will be forever etched in our memory.

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    12. m0m0 says:

      she’s so pretty. it’s a great loss. i don’t know who she is, don’t remember seeing any of her work.

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    13. Ascary Navarro says:

      RIP she seems to have it all (a great family that cared for each other, a husband who loved her, and kids that care and respect her). My condolences go to the family and my heart goes to them. A beauty from inside and out

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