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Zhang Ruifang (15 June 1909 – 28 June 2012) was a Chinese film and theatre actress.[1] She is considered one of China's greatest actresses.

Zhang Ruifang
Zhang Ruifang 1962.jpg
in 1962
Born(1909-06-15)15 June 1909
Died28 June 2012(2012-06-28) (aged 103)
Years active1938 – 2012
AwardsGolden Phoenix Awards
1993 Honorary Award
2003 Lifetime Achievement AwardGolden Rooster Awards – 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award

Hundred Flowers AwardsBest Actress
1963 Li Shuangshuang

Chinese name
Traditional Chinese張瑞芳
Simplified Chinese张瑞芳


Zhang was born on 15 June 1909 in Baoding in Hebei Province. She studied painting in the Western style at Beiping's National Arts School. She completed the course in 1935. After joining the Communist Party in 1937 she joined the Chinese Drama Society and after she completed her course in 1936 she was employed on the stage. During the war with Japan she performed to support the national effort to resist the Japanese invasion.[2] During the war she took the lead in her first film. The director Sun Yu cast her as a double agent in the film Baptism of Fire. By 1943 she was married for the second time to Jin Shan who served as a spy for the communist party.[3]

Her next role was not until after the war in 1946 when her performance in On Songhua River was well received.[4] Zhang modelled her acting persona on her role model Ingrid Bergman.[3]

In 1963, Zhang won Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress for her household character in comedy Li Shuangshuang.[4] She is considered to be of the "four great drama actresses" in China (四大名旦), along with Bai Yang, Shu Xiuwen and Qin Yi.[5] Zhangs portrayal and the film were praised by the premier Zhou Enlai. Zhang played a character who took an equal role to the men in the story.[6]

She completed ten more films before she retired from acting in 1982. After she retired she took an interest in politics. She served on the National Committees of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference three times. She was also on national committees for women and another for art and literature.[6]

During the Cultural Revolution Zhang was imprisoned for a year but she suffered less than some of her contemporaries as some spent six years in captivity.[3]

Zhang rejected capitalism when she started a retirement home in 2000 in Changning in Shanghai. She explained that her purpose was to create a community for 40 people and not to make a profit.[6]

In 2007 she was again honoured at the Golden Rooster Awards when she was given a lifetime achievement award by the China Film Associaction. Zhang died in Shanghai in 2012.[6]


Year English Title Chinese Title Role Notes
1940 Baptism of Fire[6] 火的洗礼 Fang Yin
1947 On the Songhua River[6] 松花江上 Niuer
1952 Civil war 南征北战 Zhao Yumin
1956 Mother 母亲 Mother
1957 The Song of Phoenix 凤凰之歌 Jin Feng
1958 By The River 三八河边 Chen Shuzhen
1959 Nie Er 聂耳 Zheng Leidian
Always Colorful Spring 万紫千红总是春 Wang Caifeng
1962 Li Shuangshuang 李双双 Li Shuangshuang

Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actress

1964 Li Shanzi 李善子 Li Shanzi Banned during the Cultural Revolution
1979 Streaming 大河奔流 Li Mai
Roar! The Yellow River 怒吼吧!黄河 A Dan
1982 Fountain Jingling 泉水叮咚 Grandma Tao


  1. ^ "Famous actress Zhang Ruifang dies". Retrieved 2012-06-29.
  2. ^ Zhang Ruifang,, Retrieved 14 June 2016
  3. ^ a b c The Last Reservoir of Glamour From China’s ‘Four Great Actresses’, 30 November 2015, Jane Perlez, NYTimes, Retrieved 14 June 2016
  4. ^ a b 中国第一代才艺双馨女星 Jiamusi Daily May 20, 2011
  5. ^ 影剧四大名旦 名人传记 March 08, 2011
  6. ^ a b c d e f Veteran Actress and Iconaclast of Stage and Screen, 14 April 2010, WomenofChina, Retrieved 14 June 2016

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