Yang Teng-kuei (楊登魁), an influential figure in the nation’s entertainment, film and television industries, died of a stroke at Taipei Veterans General Hospital Monday at the age of 74.
Yang had been hospitalized since Dec. 17 after suffering a stroke, a statement issued by Polyface Entertainment Media Group said, which was founded by Yang in March 2011.
The statement said Yang’s condition had not improved despite various types of treatment, including a transcatheter arterial embolization.
His health deteriorated further and he died at 5:12am on Monday, with his family and many good friends by his side, the statement added.
Taiwanese film director Chu Yen-ping (朱延平) posted a photograph of himself with Yang on his Facebook page, with a caption that read: “[Yang], forever my boss.”
Yang is credited with nurturing many of the entertainment industry’s big stars in Taiwan and the rest of the Chinese-speaking community.
In the early years of his career, Yang and his partners operated a pop concert hall in Kaohsiung that became a landmark of the nation’s variety show culture and a launcing pad for many local TV and movie personalities, including Yu and Chang Fei (張菲).
Yang also invested in filmmaking, which helped put actors and actresses from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China into the spotlight. Among those he helped are Brigitte Lin (林青霞) and Sally Yeh (葉蒨文).
Known for his outgoing and gregarious personality, Yang was also alleged to have links with organized crime. When Taiwan launched its first major crackdown on organized crime in 1985, Yang was arrested and sent to the notorious, but now defunct, prison on Green Island (綠島) off the east coast, where he was kept for three years.
Following his release, Yang focused on filmmaking. A City of Sadness (悲情城市), a 1989 film whose production he oversaw, won the coveted best film award in the Venice International Film Festival that year.
However, he was rounded up again shortly afterward in a second crackdown on organized crime for allegedly operating underground gambling dens.
After a statute on compensating those whose rights were violated during the Martial Law era took effect in 1995, Yang applied for compensation on the grounds that he was imprisoned twice without a trial. He eventually received NT$480,000 (US$16,500) in compensation.
In 1992, he set up the nation’s first cable TV station, but later decided to live abroad for several years after a cable TV channel under his company was involved in a professional baseball gambling scandal.
After returning to Taipei, he set up GTV and produced a number of smash hit drama series, including Royal Tramp, which was based on noted Hong Kong writer Jin Yong’s (金庸) novel of same name.
In 2011, he founded Polyface group with an ambition of investing up to NT$3 billion over five years to make Taiwan a new hub of global filmmaking and showbusiness.
Yang said at the Polyface inaugural ceremony that the group was founded through the joint efforts of his friends in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China to put the local entertainment industry on the world stage. The group has since produced a number of hit movies.
The Polyface statement said a temporary memorial hall will open on tomorrow where his friends can pay their last respects and that a funeral will be held in the form of a concert, the date of which will be announced at a later date.