China's sweetheart succumbs to cancer

Chen Xiaoxu, who melted the hearts of millions of Chinese men in the 1980s with her portrayal of the chaste and sentimental Lin Daiyu in a popular TV serial based on the classic Dream of the Red Mansion, succumbed last weekend to her battle with breast cancer, source said yesterday.

Her farewell ceremony will take place at a funeral parlor in Shenzhen today, five days after her death, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

Thousands of netizens posted expressions of mourning on popular Web portals within hours after reports of her death were made public yesterday.

"Chen's death has marked the end of an era. No girl as adorable as she was can be found in this increasingly materialistic world," a netizen surnamed Chen wrote on his blog.

Roughly a third of the thousands of respondents to an online survey by said "they could only wish the news was untrue".

Chen was born in 1965. She became a household name in China in the 1980s after being cast as Lin Daiyu, the lead character in the TV serial Dream of the Red Mansion, an adaptation of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) literary classic of the same name.

Dream of the Red Mansion is a tragic tale of love. Lin Daiyu is the sickly but passionate protagonist, who rebels against social conventions.

Chen's complete embodiment of the iconic character endeared her to millions of Chinese.

"No one could do a better job in Lin's role," said the well-known actress Deng Jie, who co-stared with Lin in the drama.

When the series concluded, Chen did not pursue her acting career.

Instead, she disappeared from public view for several years and then re-emerged as a successful businesswoman and billionaire advertising mogul in the 1990s.

Chen was once again in the media spotlight this February when she shaved her head in a Buddhist rite, and rumors of her terminal illness were leaked.

Chen left 50 million yuan ($6.52 million) of her fortune to set up a charity foundation aimed at alleviating poverty and supporting education.

Source: China Daily

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