Zhou Xuan: Ming dynasty person CBDB = 261573 | Biography
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Zhou Xuan
Ming dynasty person CBDB = 261573

Zhou Xuan

Zhou Xuan
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Ming dynasty person CBDB = 261573
From China
Gender male
The details (from wikipedia)


Zhou Xuan (Chinese: 周璇; pinyin: Zhōu Xuán; born Su Pu simplified Chinese: 苏璞; traditional Chinese: 蘇璞; pinyin: Sū pú; August 1, 1920 – September 22, 1957), also romanized as Chow Hsuan, was an iconic Chinese singer and film actress. By the 1940s, she had become one of China's Seven Great Singing Stars. She was the best known of the seven, nicknamed the "Golden Voice", and had a concurrent movie career until 1954. She recorded more than 200 songs and appeared in over 40 films in her career.

Early life

Zhou was born Su Pu (蘇璞), but was separated from her natural parents at a young age and raised by adoptive parents. She spent her entire life searching for her biological parents but her parentage was never established until after her death.

According to later family research, a relative who was an opium addict took her at the age of 3 to another city and sold her to a family named Wang, who named her Wang Xiaohong. She was later adopted by a family named Zhou, changing her name to Zhou Xiaohong.

At the age of 13, she took Zhou Xuan as her stage name, 'Xuan' () meaning beautiful jade in Chinese.


A hand-coloured photo of Zhou in the 1930s.

In 1932, Zhou began acting as a member of Li Jinhui's Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe. When she was twelve, she won second prize in a singing contest in Shanghai and was given the nickname "Golden Voice" (金嗓子) for her effortless high-pitched melodies.

Zhou began her film career in 1935, and she achieved stardom in 1937 when director Yuan Muzhi cast her as one of the leads as a singing girl in Street Angel. Zhou rapidly became the most famous and marketable popular singer in the gramophone era up to her death, singing many famous tunes from her own movies.

Between 1946 and 1950, she often went to Hong Kong to make films such as "All-Consuming Love" (長相思), "Hua wai liu ying" (花外流鶯), Sorrows of the Forbidden City, and "Rainbow Song" (彩虹曲). After introducing "Shanghai Nights" (夜上海) in 1949, Zhou returned to Shanghai. She spent the next few years in and out of a mental institutions owing to frequent breakdowns. Through the years, Zhou led a complicated and unhappy life marked by her failed marriages, illegitimate children, and suicide attempts. Zhou's first husband was the composer Yan Hua (嚴華, 1912–1992), who wrote and sometimes also performed songs with her.

Having made a total of 43 movies, her favourite film was always Street Angel. This contained two theme songs: "Four Seasons Song" (四季歌) and "The Wandering Songstress", which enjoyed long-lasting popularity. Other well-known songs by Zhou Xuan include "When Will You Return?", "Shanghai Nights" (title song from the film of the same name), "Yellow Leaves Dancing in Autumn Wind" (黃葉舞秋風), "Forever Smile" (永遠的微笑), "Hundred Flower Song" (百花歌), "Advice" (叮嚀), "Where Can the Soul Mate be Found" (知音何處尋), and "Picking Betel Nuts" (採檳榔).


In 1957 she died in Shanghai in a mental asylum at the age of 37 during the Anti-Rightist Movement. A possible cause of death may be encephalitis following a nervous breakdown. Zhou's diary concluded that she suffered from cerebritis.

Zhou Xuan was survived by two sons, Zhou Min and Zhou Wei, born of different fathers. Zhou Min was widely believed to be the son of the businessman Zhu Huaide, who left for Shanghai in 1950 after Zhou Xuan entrusted him with her savings and never returned, Zhou Min was born on that same year. According to her elder son Zhou Min's biography, her younger son, Zhou Wei, was the son of the art designer Tang Di (唐棣), while Zhou Min himself did not know who his biological father was.

Zhou Wei currently lives in Toronto performing at times in the TTC subways, and participating in various musical projects, including teaching. He is known as a flautist. He has two daughters, both musicians. The elder of the two, Zhou Xiaoxuan, is a classical pianist trained at Concordia University and now living in Beijing. The youngest, Amanda Zhou, is taking a similar path as an actress and has already worked on a few shows and films.

Cultural legacy

To this day, Zhou Xuan's songs still remain a staple in many Golden Oldies collections in Mandarin popular music.

There have been two biographies written by Zhou Xuan's surviving family members. The book My Mother Zhou Xuan (我的媽媽周璇) was written by Zhou Wei and his wife Chang Jing (常晶); while a later book, Zhou Xuan Diary (周璇日記), was written by Zhou Min.


Zhou Xuan

An adaptation of the life of Zhou Xuan was TVB's Song Bird (1989), starring Adia Chan as Zhou Xuan and Leon Lai as her lover. In this series, Xuan's songs were re-written in Cantonese and sung by Chan. She sang the duets with Lai in the program while under the limits of Crown Records (娛樂唱片). Deric Wan replaced Lai's vocals on the soundtrack album.

Another adaptation, based on Zhou Wei's biography, is the Chinese serial titled Zhou Xuan (周璇), starring Cecilia Cheung. This version of the story was accused by Zhou Wei as a false representation of Zhou Xuan and damaging to the reputation of the Zhou family.


  • 狂歡之夜 (1935)
  • Street Angel (馬路天使, 1937)
  • 西廂記 (1940)
  • 孟麗君 (1940)
  • Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦, 1944)
  • Night Inn (夜店, 1947)
  • 長相思 (1947)
  • Sorrows of the Forbidden City (1948)
  • 花外流鶯 (1948)
  • 歌女之歌 (1948)
  • 莫負青春 (1949)
  • 花街 (1950)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 10 Oct 2019. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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http://english.cri.cn/636/2004-3-31/[email protected]
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