Returning to music after a five-year, self-imposed hiatus, Leslie Cheung recaptured his status as one of Hong Kong's greatest artists. Recordings, since his return in 1995, include the chart-topping comeback album Love Leslie, and his first all-Mandarin album, Printemps ("Spring"). Phenomenally successful as an actor, Cheung appeared in such films as Shanghai Grand, Tri-Star, Who's The Woman, Who's The Man, Farewell My Concubine, Nomad, A Better Tomorrow, I & II, Chinese Ghost Story, I & II, Rouge, Days Of Being Wild, and Viva Erotica. He had a major role in Temptress Moon, which Time Magazine included in a list of the best films of 1996, but his portrayal of a Chinese communist in the 1998 movie A Time to Remember led to much controversy. Increasingly making his presence felt as a director, Cheung received a "best director" award at the Cannes Film Festival as co-director of Happy Together in 1997. He directed his first film, The Kid, in 1999.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Cheung attended high school in England. Although he studied textile management at Leeds University for a year, he left school to pursue a career as a singer. The first runner-up in an Asian song contest with an interpretation of Don McLean's "American Pie," he released his debut album, The Wind Blows On, in 1981. Signing on as an actor for Rediffusion TV (now Asia Television), he successfully balanced his two careers until announcing "retirement" in the early '90s. Moving to Canada, he maintained a low profile for the next five years. Cheung made the most of his rare appearances during this long break. Persuaded to appear in the film Farewell My Concubine, he was named "most popular Hong Kong star" at the Tokyo Film Awards. He also appeared in a martial arts film, Ashes of Time. In 2001, Cheung received a Golden Needle award at the RTHK Music Awards, Hong Kong's equivalent of the Grammys.
Sadly, in April 2003, Cheung committed suicide. He was 46. ~ Craig Harris