Taiwanese actor Wu Pong-fong dies at 55

Pong-fong Wu (吳朋奉) , a veteran stage, television, and film actor was found dead in his home after suffering a stroke, Sunday, May 25.

Wu was described as a veteran actor in English language reports, and a Film Emperor in the Chinese language press.

Wu, who has 56 film and television credits on IMDb was a hard working actor who played many supporting roles until he came into the public spotlight with a best supporting actor award at the 2010 Golden Horse Awards for his work in Seven Days in Heaven.

In the following year, Wu was awarded best actor for his role in the film Ranger.

Last year, Wu was awarded a Golden Bell Award for best lead actor in a miniseries or television film.

Wu was a versatile actor who often played roles portraying the everyday working class Taiwanese man. He played a sausage vendor in the 2018 miniseries The Coming Through, and a motorcycle repair shop owner in the 2008 hit Cape No. 7.

Wu played the taxi driver, the cop, the gangster, the chef, someone’s dad, brother, friend: the kind of people you would meet on the streets of Taiwan on any given day, and he brought them to life on the screen, because he was one of them: a man of the people.

Wu, who was personally known to this writer, was quintessentially Taiwanese to the point of Taike. When asked if he found the term offensive he said, “It depends on who’s talking and how they say it,” in an interview by the Taipei Times in 2005.

Taike means not forgetting history, Wu told The Wild East Magazine in 2009.

Wu’s Taiwanese identity was formed at an early age despite the fact his father arrived from China after Taiwan’s “retrocession” in 1945.

Growing up in gritty Sanchong City (now a slightly less, but still gritty district of New Taipei City), Wu developed an early interest in traditional folk theater, including puppetry and other performing arts.

At a time when the Taiwanese language was banned in cinema and other media, Wu developed an enduring passion for the language.

In later years, Wu went on to play leading roles, and was a model and teacher for later generations of Taiwanese actors and performers.

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