Leslie Cheung was the youngest of 10 children. His father was tailor to the late William Holden. Leslie's parents divorced when he was young, and he claims this is one reason for his disinterest in marriage. Following graduation from secondary school, he studied at Leeds University in Great Britain. Upon his return to Hong Kong, he entered the 1976 ATV Asian Music Contest, where he took second prize. He went on to perform on stage, television and in teeny-bopper movies. It wasn't until he was cast in the role of "Kit" in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow (1986) that his acting career took off; he has since performed in some of the best-known Hong Kong movies of the last decade, working under the direction of such directors as Kaige Chen, Kar Wai Wong, Hark Tsui and, of course, Woo. Leslie emigrated to Canada in 1992, but soon returned to Hong Kong, demonstrating his intention to remain past the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China through his purchase of real estate and opening of a coffee shop in the colony.
Leslie jumped from the landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in the central business district early in the evening on 1st April 2003, leaving a suicide note that was found on the body.
He was one of the most popular singers in the 80s. He bade farewell to his professional singing career in December 1989 when he held 33 continuous nights of "Final Encounter of the Legend" concert.
Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1998
The first Hong Kong actor who acted in a mainland China film (Farewell My Concubine, 1992)
Member of the jury at Tokyo International Film Festival in 1993
The first singer to hold 100 concerts at Hong Kong Coliseum in 1997
His song "Monica" was crowned as "Song of the Century" (1999)
He was named "Asian Biggest Superstar" by CCTV-MTV in Beijing China (2000)
Most Favorite Chinese Actor in 100 years of Chinese Cinema in the poll held by Henderson Land Development Co. Ltd, Hong Kong Ferry Co. Ltd, HKFAA and UA Cinemas for the Centennial of Chinese Film History (2005)
One of the first generation of PEPSI stars in Asia.
On April 1, 2003, he jumped to his death from the 24th floor of the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel, located in the Central district of Hong Kong Island. He left a suicide note saying that he had been suffering from depression. The day after Leslie's death, his long time partner, Tong, confirmed that Cheung suffered from (clinical) depression and had been seeing psychiatrists for treatment for almost a year. He also revealed that Cheung had attempted suicide in 2002.
In the early 1990s he became one of the few Hong Kong actors who dared to play gay characters on-screen. Cheung's first gay role was Cheng Dieyi in Farewell My Concubine (1993). In Happy Together (1997), Cheung played another gay role which involved him in graphic sex scenes and for which he was nominated for the Best Actor Award at both the Golden Horse Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards.
Cheung was bisexual and claimed so in an interview with Time magazine. He had denied it during the earlier portion of his career but "came out" in the 1990s after emigrating to Vancouver, Canada. In a 1997 concert Cheung openly revealed his relationship with Daffy Tong Hok-Tak. He became the co-executor of Cheung's estate. A full-page obituary on Cheung in a Hong Kong newspaper listed Tong as his surviving spouse.
Attended the University of Leeds in northern England where he studied textile management. He dropped out of university at the end of his first year when his father fell ill. After his father's recovery, however, he did not return to England to complete his studies.
Stated that he had a fairly unhappy childhood and was brought up by his grandmother.
In his early career chose his name "Leslie" after the British actor Leslie Howard and because of his love for the American film Gone with the Wind (1939). He liked the fact that the name Leslie could be either a male or female name.
Worked as a bartender at his relatives' restaurant and sang during the weekends.
In 1977, Cheung won second prize by singing Don McLean's "American Pie" at the Asian Music Contest.
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