Ruan Ling-yu was one of the greatest Shanghai movie idols of the 1930s. She was born in the city on April 26, 1910 of Cantonese ancestry and her life was full of tragedy almost from the beginning, giving Ruan a tragic depth which she was able to transfer on to the screen. Her father died when she was six, and her mother moved away from Shanghai the following year to work. She did some acting in school plays and made her first movie at the age of 17.
She committed suicide on March 8, 1935 by swallowing an overdose of sleeping tablets. She was 25. Her funeral took place on March 14 with crowds measured in their tens of thousands flooding the streets to mark her passing.
She was in the movie business for less than 10 years, and left behind around two dozen movies, and a reputation for being the greatest tragic heroine figure of the Chinese cinema of all time. When she died, she left a suicide note which said: “Nothing matters”.
Her notable movies are many, including “Love and honour”, “Night in the city” and “Three modern girls”.
From Tales of Old Shangai.