Yesterday, veteran Hong Kong actor Kong Ngai (江毅) passed away in Ruttonjee Hospital due to lung cancer, at the age of 77.
Kong Ngai gained fame perfecting the role of Guo Jing’s blind master in TVB’s 1983 and 1994 adaptations of The Legend of the Condor Heroes <射鵰英雄傳>. Kong was one of the most prolific, yet understated actor from the 1970s and 1980s.
Kong’s death was announced by former ATV producer, Yeung Siu Hung (楊紹鴻), on his Facebook page. According to Yeung, he had wanted to visit Kong Ngai at the hospital but was informed that he had passed away in the afternoon.
Kong’s friend and neighbor, Wong Jun Tong (王俊棠), revealed that Kong Ngai had been battling lung cancer for more than one year.
Kong was born in Hong Kong in 1936 under the birth name is Tang Siu Ji (鄧兆移). He changed his name to Kong Ngai in memory of his most respected percussion master, Fu Kong Sum (傅江湛). Kong’s affluent family fled Macau during the Sino-Japanese war. He made various stock investments and only dabbled with drama on the side, delighting in playing siu sangs in Cantonese operas. However, knowing the risks involved in investing stocks, Kong Ngai became a full-fledged actor in 1974 when he joined TVB.
“A Condor Hero”
Though Kong had always played supporting roles, his acting left a deep impression upon viewers, especially his portrayal of Or Chan Ngok in the 1983 adaptation of The Legend of the Condor Heroes, which propelled Felix Wong (黃日華) and the late Barbara Yung (翁美玲) to stardom. Fong was so impressive in his role that in several subsequent adaptations, he was cast in the same role.
Kong Ngai’s acting chops were so outstanding that in 2011, he was invited by Alan Mak (麥兆輝) and Felix Chong (莊文強) to take part in Overhead 2 <竊聽風雲 2>, playing a rather meaty supporting role. Alan Mak had initially planned to invite Kong Ngai to reprise his role in Overhead 3, but it is not meant to be.
Friends Grieve Over Kong Ngai’s Death
Working with Kong Ngai in Yesterday’s Glitter <京華春夢>, Liza Wang (汪明荃) expressed her shock when she was told of the actor’s passing. “It’s a loss to the Hong Kong entertainment industry to lose Kong Ngai. Not only was he our senior, he was a very good actor.”
When Kong’s Greed of Man <大時代> costar, Adam Cheng (鄭少秋) was told of his passing, he could only muster, “I have lost another long-time friend.”
Susanna Kwan (關菊英) who had worked on several projects with Kong Ngai, including 1980’s The Brothers <亲情> and 1978’s long-running The Giant <強人>, revealed that she had seen Kong Ngai in the hospital when she had gone to visit a friend several months ago. Seated in a wheelchair, the senior actor had disclosed he was ill.
Kong Ngai preferred to keep his personal life private and never brought much media attention to himself. Kong had also disclosed that he was very good friends with Danny Chan (陳百強) and Leslie Cheung (張國榮). Kong did not openly address speculations over his sexuality, but wished to be born as a woman in his next life.
This article is written by Karen for JayneStars.com.