Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Hong Kong movie pioneer Run Run Shaw dies at 106

By Sophie Brown, CNN
updated 7:41 AM EST, Wed January 8, 2014
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
updated 7:13 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
updated 11:15 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
updated 10:29 PM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
updated 8:20 PM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
The massive street rallies that have swept Hong Kong present a major dilemma for China's leadership.
updated 3:07 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
Chinese wine drinkers need to develop a taste for the cheap stuff, not just premium red wines like Lafite.
updated 9:09 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, set off a media kerfuffle this month when he spoke about his next reincarnation.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
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.
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
China has no wine-making tradition but the country now uncorks more bottles of red than any other.
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
ADVERTISEMENT