Betty Loh Ti
|Betty Loh Ti|
|Chinese name||樂蒂 (traditional)|
|Chinese name||乐蒂 (simplified)|
|Pinyin||Lè Dì (Mandarin)|
|Jyutping||Lok6 Dai3 (Cantonese)|
24 July 1937
27 December 1968 (aged 31)|
Peter Chen Ho
(m. 1962; div. 1967)
|Children||Chen Mingming (daughter)|
|Relatives||Kelly Lai Chen (brother)|
Betty Loh Ti (24 July 1937 – 27 December 1968), also known as Le Di or Loh Tih, was a Hong Kong actress originally from Shanghai. Known as the "Classic Beauty", she was one of the most celebrated actresses of Hong Kong cinema. She is most famous for her roles in the 1960 film The Enchanting Shadow, for which she was called "China's most beautiful actress" by the jury of the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, and The Love Eterne, which earned her the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress in 1963. She died from barbiturate overdose at the age of 31.
Betty Loh Ti was born as Xi Zhongyi on 24 July 1937 into a prominent family from Pudong, the owner of the Xi Fu Ji (奚福记) Factory in Shanghai. She was born in the midst of the Battle of Shanghai, one of the bloodiest battles of the Second Sino-Japanese War, during which her father was killed by Japanese bombing before she was born.
She was the youngest of six siblings, and the actor Kelly Lai Chen (born Xi Zhongjian) was her elder brother. Her pet name was "Liu Di" (六弟, literally "sixth brother"), which was later transformed into her stage name Loh Ti (Le Di). Their maternal grandfather was the tycoon Gu Zhuxuan, who owned Tianchan Theatre, then Shanghai's grandest theatre for Chinese opera. Growing up near the opera house, she became interested in acting since early childhood and often sang along with Peking opera actors.
After their mother died in 1948, the children were brought up by their maternal grandmother. In 1949, her grandmother brought the children to Hong Kong, as part of the mass exodus from mainland China after the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War.
In Hong Kong, Loh's family lived next door to Yuan Yang'an, a co-founder and top executive of Great Wall Movie Enterprises. The studio signed a five-year contract with her in 1952, when she was 15. She debuted in the 1953 film The Peerless Beauty (绝代佳人). At Great Wall she was eclipsed by the company's "Three Princesses" such as Xia Meng, and was mainly cast in supporting roles. The sole exception was the 1957 film Suspicion, in which she played the female lead.
After her contract with Great Wall expired in 1958, Loh jumped ship to Shaw Brothers Studio, which gave her more important roles. In The Magic Touch (妙手回春, 1958), her first film with Shaw Brothers, her performance as the famous fictional beauty Lin Daiyu earned her the nickname "Classic Beauty". Her 1960 film The Enchanting Shadow was a breakout success. It received an enthusiastic reception at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, whose jury praised her as "China's most beautiful actress". In 1963, she played Zhu Yingtai, the female lead in the blockbuster The Love Eterne directed by Li Han-hsiang. It was considered her signature piece, and she won the Golden Horse Award for Best Leading Actress for her performance.
Loh joined Motion Picture & General Investment (MP&GI) in 1964. In 1967, she founded her studio, Golden Eagle Film Company, together with her brother Kelly Lai Chen and director Yuan Qiufeng. She starred in 11 films from 1964 until her death in 1968.
Personal life and death
Despite her early death, she is considered a screen legend. In 2017, the Hong Kong Film Archive organised an exhibition to commemorate her 80th birth anniversary. According to the organisers, Betty Loh Ti's "talent and charm remain unsurpassed to this day".
- The Peerless Beauty (1953)
- Tales of the City (1954)
- Loves of the Youngsters (1955)
- Diamond Thief (1955)
- The Apartment for Women (1956)
- Sunrise (1956)
- Three Loves (1956)
- A Widow's Tears (1956)
- The Song of Harmony (1957)
- Suspicion (1957)
- The Chivalrous Songstress (1957)
- Love Affairs of a Confirmed Bachelor (1959)
- The Magic Touch (1958)
- Love Letter Murder (1959)
- The Adventures of the Thirteenth Sister (1959)
- The Deformed (1959)
- The Malayan Affair (1960)
- Back Door (1960)
- Love Thy Neighbour (1960)
- The Enchanting Shadow (1960)
- When the Peach Blossoms Bloom (1960)
- The Rose of Summer (1961)
- The Pistol (1961)
- The Bride Napping (1962)
- Dream of the Red Chamber (1962)
- Mid-Nightmare (Part One) (1962)
- Mid-Nightmare (Part Two) (1963)
- Revenge of a Swordswoman (1963)
- The Love Eterne (1963)
- My Lucky Star (1963)
- The Dancing Millionairess (1964)
- The Story of Sue San (1964)
- Sons of the Good Earth (1965)
- A Beggar's Daughter (1965)
- The Longest Night (1965)
- The Lucky Purse (1966)
- Lady in the Moon (1966)
- A Debt of Blood (1966)
- The Magic Fan (1967)
- Darling, Stay at Home (1968)
- Travels with a Sword (1968)
- Red Plum Pavilion (1968)
- "Beauty in Myriad Shades: A Tribute to Betty Loh Ti on Her 80th Birth Anniversary". Hong Kong Film Archive. Retrieved 2018-04-20.
- "乐蒂". Tencent. Retrieved 2018-04-20.
- Lisa Odham Stokes (5 February 2007). Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema. Scarecrow Press. pp. 241–2. ISBN 978-0-8108-6458-0.
- Law Kar; Frank Bren; Sam Ho (2004). Hong Kong Cinema: A Cross-cultural View. Scarecrow Press. pp. 253–4. ISBN 978-0-8108-4986-0.