Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Hong Kong movie pioneer Run Run Shaw dies at 106

By Sophie Brown, CNN
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hong Kong media mogul Run Run Shaw has died at age 106
  • Shaw's studios were instrumental in building Asia's film industry
  • He helped establish Hong Kong's first free-to-air television broadcaster
  • Shaw gave generously to philanthropic causes, especially education

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on Tuesday at the age of 106, the television station he founded said on Tuesday.

Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) said in a statement that the centenarian would be sadly missed:

"Although we knew this day will come, no words can adequately express our sorrow and lessen our sense of a profound loss," it said.

With his elder brother, Runme, Shaw co-founded one of the world's largest film studios, Shaw Brothers.

The company has produced around 1,000 movies since 1958, and helped launch the careers of star actors and directors from across Asia.

At its peak, in the 1960s and 1970s, the studios were making more than 40 films a year, according to a biography by film history writers Zhan Youpeng and Lan Chao.

"The Shaw brothers -- they created the martial arts action genre and made it huge. And it's been copied ever since," said Patrick Frater, Asia bureau chief at industry publication Variety.

Shaw also has credits on several U.S. films, including Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."

MORE: China's Hollywood dream gets lots in translation

He was born in 1907 in the city of Ningbo, near Shanghai in China, although there is some confusion about his exact date of birth, Frater said.

He was the youngest of six children fathered by a successful textile merchant. In the 1920s, he joined his brother Runje in Singapore in an effort to establish a market for Chinese-language films in Southeast Asia, according to a Hong Kong Film Archive chronology.

By 1939, they had opened 139 cinemas across the region.

"Run Run Shaw was there at the beginning of the century when cinema first took off," Frater said.

After World War II, Shaw moved to Hong Kong and began concentrating on film production, opening a world-class studio called Movie Town in 1961.

Six years later, he co-founded Hong Kong's first free-to-air station, TVB. The network remains one of the world's most influential Chinese-language broadcasters.

Shaw was a generous philanthropist, especially in the education sector. The Shaw Prize, an international science award that he established, has become known as the "Nobel of the East."

The media mogul was knighted by the Queen in 1977. Shaw received Hong Kong's highest honor award, the Grand Bauhinia Medal, in 1998, after the territory returned to Chinese rule.

He remained involved in Hong Kong's media industry well into his later years, retiring as chairman of the television station, TVB, only in 2011 at the age of 104.

Shaw is survived by his wife, Mona Fong, and four children.

People we lost in 2014

CNN's Katie Hunt contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 0204 GMT (1004 HKT)
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0545 GMT (1345 HKT)
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT)
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT