Zhao Benshan

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Zhao Benshan
Zhao ben shan.JPG
Zhao Benshan
Native name 赵本山
Born (1957-10-02) October 2, 1957 (age 57)
Kaiyuan County, Liaoning, China
Nationality China
Other names Uncle Benshan 本山大叔
Ethnicity Han Chinese
Education Lianhua Middle School[1]
Occupation Actor
Religion Buddhism
Spouse(s) Ge Shuzhen (葛淑珍; former), Ma Lijuan (马丽娟; current)
Children Zhao Yinan (赵一楠), Zhao Yihan (赵一涵)
Awards Hundred Flowers Award for Best Actor
Huabiao Award for Outstanding Actor
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhao.

Zhao Benshan (simplified Chinese: 赵本山; traditional Chinese: 趙本山; pinyin: Zhào Běnshān; born October 1957) is a Chinese skit and sitcom actor and director, and entrepreneur. Originally from Liaoning province, Zhao has appeared on the CCTV New Year's Gala, a widely watched performing arts program, every year from 1990 to 2011. Zhao's performance at the gala had made him a household name in China.


Zhao was born in Lianhua Village, Kaiyuan, Liaoning province, to a peasant family. He was orphaned at the age of 6. Apprenticed to his uncle, he learned many local traditional performance arts, including erhu and er ren zhuan.

Jiang Kun, a nationally renowned Xiangsheng artist, recommend him to the 1990 CCTV New Year's Gala, a TV program broadcast all over China to celebrate Chinese New Year. After his first appearance, he had appeared in each Gala show every year from 1995 to 2011.[2] His performances have included "Yesterday, today and tomorrow" and "Fixing up the house" with Song Dandan, "Bainian" with Fan Wei and Gao Xiumin, a reprisal of "Yesterday, today, and tomorrow" with Song Dandan and Cui Yongyuan in 2006, and "Don't need money" in 2009 with Bi Fujian and Xiaoshenyang. He became a household name in China since he began appearing at the Gala. His performances have generally received critical acclaim.

Zhao has appeared as an actor in many films, including Zhang Yimou's Happy Times (2000) where he played an aging bachelor who really wanted to get married.

Zhao has appeared as the main character in Liu Laogen and Ma Dashuai, as well as a secondary character in Xiangcun Aiqing (lit. "Love in the Countryside") and their sequels.

Zhao was nominated for the Best Actor Award for his performance in Getting Home at the 2007 Golden Horse Awards, held in Taipei on 8 December 2007. He did not win, losing to Tony Leung for his work in Lust, Caution.

Zhao took part in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay by being a torchbearer in the Liaoning leg of the relay in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province.

In 2009, Zhao was studying in the 4th intake CEO class at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. In September 2009, Zhao was in the news again following a cerebral aneurysm rupture. He was said to be in a stable condition after an operation, although close associates have mentioned that he often felt unwell in recent years when he is exhausted on the set.[3]

Zhao's apprentice, Xiaoshenyang, performed in the 2009 and 2010 CCTV New Year's Galas. Zhao did not perform at the CCTV New Year's Gala since 2012, raising public speculation about his health and his conflict with 2012 gala director Ha Wen. 2012 marked the first time since 1994 that he did not perform at the annual event.


Zhao is an entrepreneur and has led many business ventures. Zhao Benshan performs at the residency show at the "Liulaogen Guild Hall" (刘老根大舞台). The Hall is located in the Qianmen area of Beijing, just south of Tiananmen Square and is immersed in part in building compounds with a history of some 280 years.[4] Zhao's show also tours in Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin and Jilin. Reportedly, these shows grossed over 100 million yuan (about US$14.64 million) in 2008.

In 2004, Zhao Benshan co-founded the Benshan Art Academy at Liaoning University, to nurture new Er ren zhuan players. In 2005, he established Benshan Media Group, the parent company of Liaoning Folk Art Troupe, Benshan Production, Ruidong Culture Development Co. Ltd and Benshan Arts Academy.

In 2007, Zhao led his performing troupe to tour North America. They performed Er ren zhuan in six cities including New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver but critiques were mixed.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Zhao married Ge Shuzhen (葛淑珍) in 1979. Ge, a farmer from a village near Kaiyuan, was 19 at the time of their wedding. The two had a daughter, Yufang, and son, Tiedan, who had osteomalacia and emphysema as well as heart problems. Zhao and Ge divorced in 1992; Ge took custody of the children. Zhao reportedly made a lump-sum child support and medical expenses payment to his ex-wife and left with the intent of a 'clean break'. Ge Shuzhen worked a series of menial labour jobs after their divorce before becoming an entrepreneur.[6] His son Tiedan died in 1994 at the age of 12. His daughter Yufang and her husband are reportedly local restaurateurs. In 1992 Zhao married his second wife, Ma Lijuan (马丽娟), a Hui Chinese woman from Chifeng, Inner Mongolia. In 1997 the couple had fraternal twins named Zhao Yinan and Zhao Yihan.[7]

On September 30, 2009, it was reported Zhao had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was sent to hospital in Shanghai.[8]

In December 2009, Zhao bought a Bombardier Challenger 850 at a cost of 200 million yuan (US$30 million). He later stated that he was thinking of replacing the Challenger 850 with a newer Boeing or Gulfstream jet.[9]


In 2014, Zhao was ommitted from the guest list for a Liaoning arts conference and the Communist Party Central Committee's own exclusive arts conference in Beijing hosted by General Secretary Xi Jinping to "spread Chinese values". His missing both conferences led to speculation about Zhao having politically fallen 'out of line'. Chinese-language media has linked Zhao with disgraced politicians Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun, both of whom spent a large part of their careers in Zhao's home province, Liaoning.[10]

In an exclusive interview with Shanghai-based news portal The Paper (澎湃新闻), the reporter asked if Zhao had become "too political". Zhao said "If you are not politically engaged, do not believe in our Party, why do you engage in art? You do not listen to our Party, why you still do art work?."[11] In response to the Central arts conference, Zhao hosted his own "study sessions" to extol the virtues spoken about at the conference, during which Zhao said, "I have repeatedly read General Secretary Xi's speeches. I'm extremely emotional, extremely excited! Sometimes I cannot even sleep at night... we are living in times where we can dare to dream; a time with positive energy! The spring for performing arts is here!"[10]


[12] [13]

Television series[edit]


  1. ^ "赵本山:不会放弃春晚舞台 网传移民国外是谣言" (in zh-hans). 凤凰网. Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  2. ^ "Comedian Zhao Benshan quits Spring Festival Gala". China.org.cn. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Chinadaily.com
  4. ^ "Expert says renovations of Liulaogen Guild Hall inflicted damage on cultural artifact". ebeijing.gov.cn. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Zhao Benshan Brings Dongbei Comedy to U.S.". http://english.cri.cn. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2007-02-25. 
  6. ^ "赵本山前妻葛淑珍照片曝光 自创业变百万富婆". Ifeng. October 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "赵本山2次婚姻育有4子女 儿子赵铁蛋夭折". Huanqiu Entertainment. May 20, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Comedian Zhao Benshan rushed to hospital". http://english.sina.com. September 30, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ "The 10 Chinese Celebrities Who Own Private Jets". chinawhisper.com. June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "难逃薄熙来阴影 赵本山两次座谈会被晾". Duowei. November 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "赵本山:不靠近政治 不相信党还搞啥艺术". http://ent.ifeng.com. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Zhao Benshan". imdb.com. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Zhao Benshan". chinesemov.com. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 

External links[edit]