Salmah Ismail

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Saloma)
Jump to: navigation, search
"Saloma" redirects here. For the small town in the United States, see Saloma, Kentucky.
Saloma in 1960's
Born Salmah binti Ismail
(1935-01-22)January 22, 1935
Pasir Panjang, Singapore
Died April 25, 1983(1983-04-25) (aged 48)
Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya,
Selangor, Malaysia
Cause of death
Yellow fever
Resting place
Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Occupation Singer, actress model
Years active 1958 - 1983
Notable work(s) Azimat, Seniman Bujang Lapok, Ahmad Albab etc.
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) A.R Tompel (April 1952 - September 1952) , P.Ramlee (November 1961 - 29 May 1973)

Biduanita Negara Puan Sri Datin Amar Salmah binti Ismail, AMN better known as Primadona Saloma (22 January 1935 – 25 April 1983) was a Singaporean-Malaysian singer, film actress, trendsetter and a fashion icon who was active in the 50s,60s and early 80s. She was the second daughter in her family, the other which is Mariani, her older sister. Saloma was the third wife of the multi-talented film actor, director, singer, songwriter, composer and producer Tan Sri Datuk Amar P. Ramlee. In her early career, Saloma was only known for her songs and minor roles in films, but after playing a major role in the film Azimat (1958) and Kaki Kuda (1958) Saloma began to expand her career as a film actress. She began to act in various films such as Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961), Ragam P.Ramlee (1964) and Ahmad Albab (1968).

After her husband's death, Saloma was overwhelmed with depression and sadness that lead Saloma to suffer from numerous diseases. She was admitted to Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya, Selangor before her death on 25 April 1983 age 48, because of yellow fever. Saloma has been entitled Biduanita Pertama Negara (First National Songbird) in 1978 and the title Puan Sri in 1990 which shows the status of a Tan Sri's wife.

Family and Early life[edit]

Saloma was born on 22 January 1935 in Pasir Panjang, Singapore as Salmah binti Ismail, the third and last daughter to Ismail Osman and Umi Kalsom Mahban. Her two sisters were Mariani and Mimi Loma. During her childhood, Saloma loved to sing. She shared her thoughts to became a singer with her sister Mariani, who wanted to be a model. She started singing casually at the age of 5 in local bands.

Unfortunately Saloma's parents got divorced, and she unwillingly followed her father to Tanjung Karang, Selangor in Tanah Melayu (now Malaysia) with her sister Mariani. Both of them lived with their father and their new stepmother. During World War 2, they used to help their father on the paddy fields. Unable to blend in with the new atmosphere, both of them ran back to Singapore without their father's presence. Saloma and her sisters returned to live with their mother and their new stepfather, Mum Yusoff. Even though their parent's were divorced, Saloma's desire to sing never faded. Mum Yusoff was a musician from a local orchestra called The Singapore Boys who were contracted to perform at The New World Cabaret. As Saloma was always talking about being a singer, one night he brought Saloma into the cabaret and introduced her to the audience. She was then asked to perform "Seven Lonely Days" by Georgia Gibbs. Her singing style and voice was well received by the audience, and from then on she began to sing songs regularly at the cabaret.


Early Career: 1949-1953[edit]

Saloma's (only known by Salmah Ismail at this time) voice began to tune in to the local radio stations when her stepfather, Mum Yusoff brought her to see his orchestra perform on Radio Malaya. Singer Rokiah Hanafi, also known as Rokiah Wandah was scheduled to sing several songs with the band, but she did not appear that day. Mum Yusoff had an idea to coax Salmah into singing the songs that were supposed to sing by Rokiah. She sang "Sang Rang Bulan" on the show, and it was a success. She started to receive invitations from orchestras throughout Singapore to be their lead singer.

In 1950, Salmah fell in love with the hero of the film 'Aloha', starring P.Ramlee after watching it for the first time. At the time Salmah was only 15 years and 11 months old, a month before her 16th birthday. Her love for him kept going stronger day by day and Salmah even sweared that she would marry the actor one day. During the film blockbuster, P.Ramlee used to walk back and forth from his house to the studio. In the middle of the road, he had to walk past Salmah's house in Mount Emily. Everytime he walked towards the house, a Chinese grassjelly boy would run into Salmah's house, telling her about the presence of her beloved hero. Salmah then would tease P.Ramlee by calling him "Banjo", the character he played in the film.

saloma in norma
Salmah (Saloma) during her early careers in the film 'Norma'.

In the early 50s, Salmah's started to lose interest in being a singer, and instead she started a career as a film actress, offered to her by Nusantara Film. Her first film was entitled 'Pelangi' , which received positive reviews among the audiences. From then, she received more offers from Nusantara Film to act in other films. In that period, Salmah had acted in two other films, entitled 'Perkahwinan Rahsia' (Secret Wedding) and 'Norma'. In January 1952 Salmah was offered a minor role as a club singer in a film called 'Chinta Murni' by Nusantara Film, directed by Aman Ramlie or better known as A.R Tompel.

In April of 1952 Salmah Ismail (Saloma) married A.R Tompel. During that time, Tompel was a well known director and comedian while Salmah was only known for her few films. Their marriage only lasted 5 months. They divorced in September 1952 when Salmah was pregnant with their first child.

According to her sister Mariani, Saloma was brought back to their house in Mount Emily to live with their mother. After her last film with Nusantara Film Company, entitled 'Sesal Tak Sudah', Salmah immediately terminated her contract with the company as she need to rest because of pregnancy, and she doesn't want to work with her ex-husband any longer. In 1953 Salmah ended her career as a performer.

Restart: 1954-1960[edit]

After coming back from travelling to Sarawak and Brunei in July of 1954, Salmah was offered a recording contract by the Pathe Company. It was strongly supported by Syed Hamid or known as S.Hamid who rose to fame at that time. They both knew each other after acting in the film 'Sesal Tak Sudah'. A song entitled 'Pandang Kasih', composed by Rahmat Ali and lyrics by Ismadi is a rumba-style while the song 'Jika Tak Berjumpa', came from Arabic melodies which then recomposed by S.Hussein Bagushir and lyrics by Wan Chu. Both of the songs were accompanied by Orkes Al Aishu Wal Meleh, conducted by S.Omar Bagushir. Hence, Saloma first solo and also her first song recorded by Pathe Company (numbered PTH 143) was 'Pandang Kasih' while the song 'Jika Tak Berjumpa' was her first duet with S.Hamid.


Here are some of her popular songs :

  • Pandang Kasih
  • Bunga Tanjung
  • Inang Baru
  • Jelingan Mata (1958)
  • Singapura Waktu Malam (1962)
  • Apa Guna Berjanji (1965)


Some memorable films acted by Saloma:

  • Azimat (1958)
  • Ahmad Albab (1968)
  • Seniman Bujang Lapok
  • Ragam P. Ramlee
  • Sabaruddin Tukang Kasut
  • Bila Hati Telah Retak (1982)
  • Kaki Kuda
  • Si Tanggang


Saloma passed away on the 25th of April 1983 at Assunta Hospital, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. She was buried next to her husband, P. Ramlee at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur.


In 1978, she was awarded by the Malaysian government at Kecapi Awards as Biduanita Negara (National Songbird). To date, the late 70s singer Sharifah Aini was only one singer who has received the same honor.

The Saloma Bistro & Theater Restaurant at Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur was opened in 2003 and named after Saloma in honor of her contribution to the Malaysian entertainment industry. During her heyday, Saloma was also known as the "Marilyn Monroe of Malaysia", due to her ability to attract male adulation like Marilyn Monroe. In 2014, a film titled 'Saloma' which has 2 part,'Pandang Guruh' and 'Mencuri Kaseh ' were made and reacted by Nabila Huda who took the role of Saloma. The film can be watched on Astro First.

Saloma Bistro & Theater Restaurant, named after Saloma in honor of her contribution to the entertainment industry of Malaysia.

External links[edit]