P. Ramlee in the late 1950s.
|Born||Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh
22 March 1929
Penang, Straits Settlements (now Penang, Malaysia)
|Died||29 May 1973
Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur|
|Occupation||Singer, actor, director, musician, songwriter, composer, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Junaidah Daeng Harris (1950 -1954)
Noorizan Mohd. Noor (1955 - 1961)
Salmah binti Ismail a.k.a. Saloma (1961 - 1973)
|Children||1. Mohamad Nasir Bin Teuku Zakaria a.k.a. Nasir P. Ramlee (son)
2. Arfan P. Ramlee (son)
3. Sazali P. Ramlee (adopted son)
4. Safarina bte Mum a.k.a. Dian P Ramlee (adopted daughter)
5. Betty P. Ramlee (adopted daughter)
6. Zakiah bte Ahmad Rejab (adopted daughter)
7. Sabarudin bin Ramlee (adopted son)
|Parent(s)||Teuku Nyak Puteh Teuku Karim
Che Mah Hussein
|Relatives||Sheikh Ali Sheikh Muhammad (older maternal half-brother)|
Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr. Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Putih, commonly known as P. Ramlee (22 March 1929 – 29 May 1973) was a Malaysian film actor, director, singer, songwriter, composer, and producer. Due to his contributions to the movie and music industry and his literary work, he is often considered the icon of Malay entertainment in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Sumatra, Indonesia.
P. Ramlee was born in his grandmother's house at 40A Counter Hall in Penang, Malaysia on the first day of the Eid festival, which fell on 22 March 1929. His father, Teuku Nyak Puteh, was a sailor from Lhokseumawe, Aceh and his mother, Che Mah Hussain, was a native of Penang of Kedahan Malay ancestry.
He attended the Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Melayu Kampung Jawa (Kampung Jawa Malay School) and Francis Light English School. He continued his secondary education at the Penang Free School secondary school until the Second World War broke out. During the period of the Japanese occupation in Malaya, he continued his studies at the Japanese Navy School Kaigun Gakko. When the war ended, he resumed his studies in the Penang Free School and was very active in sports, excelling particularly in badminton, sepak takraw and football.
In 1947, he won the first place in a singing competition organised by the Penang Radio. Seven years after his acting career started, P. Ramlee directed his first film, Penarek Becha in 1955. In 1957, he appeared in the first of his Bujang Lapok comedic films, where he acted alongside Aziz Sattar and S. Shamsuddin. The Bujang Lapok tetralogy series are still popular among contemporary Malay film audience. During his career he had acted in and directed 66 films and had more than 360 songs to his credit.
He returned to Kuala Lumpur permanently in 1964 after being with Shaw Brothers in Singapore for a number of years. However, he subsequently suffered a series of setbacks in his career. In the late 1960s, P. Ramlee struggled to find relevance in the face of changing taste in music and entertainment. Television was already drawing audience away from the movie theatres. The younger generation preferred Western pop music and sneered at his sentimental songs and seemingly outdated films. No longer the scrawny youth who could convincingly portray downtrodden romantic heroes, he was now Elvis-fat. He was booed at concerts where he performed. His record company, EMI, cancelled his recording contract and his films had failed to attract financiers. His final film was Laksamana Do Re Mi (1973). His last song, "Air Mata di Kuala Lumpur" (Tears in Kuala Lumpur) was composed in 1973. It was released posthumously in an album bearing the same title. The track was sung by his wife, Saloma, and the lyrics depict his crushed feelings and disappointment upon his return to Malaysia after leaving Singapore.
P. Ramlee was married three times. His first marriage, to Junaidah Daeng Harris in 1950, ended in a divorce four years later. His second marriage in 1955, to Noorizan Mohd. Noor who a member of the royal family of State of Perak, also ended in divorce in 1961. His last marriage was to Saloma in November 1961 until his death. In addition to his two sons, Mohamad Nasir and Arfan, from his marriage to Junaida Daeng Harris, he also had several adopted children: Sazali P. Ramlee, Safarina bte Mum (also known as Dian P Ramlee), Betty P. Ramlee, Zakiah bte Ahmad Rejab and Sabarudin bin Ramlee. He was also the stepfather to the three children from his spouses' previous marriages, namely, Abdul Rahman (Junaida's son), Norma (Noorizan's daughter) and Armali bin Aman Ramlie (Saloma's son).
Death and legacy
On 29 May 1973, P. Ramlee died at the age of 44 from a heart attack and was buried at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, in Kuala Lumpur.
In 1986, 13 years after his death, in honour of his contributions to the Malaysian entertainment industry, the P. Ramlee Memorial or Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee was built in his home in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. In 1982, the street Jalan Parry, in the center of Kuala Lumpur, was renamed Jalan P. Ramlee in his honour. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Malaysian honorific title Tan Sri, and then in 2009, the honorific title of "Datuk Amar" by Sarawak State Government. Then Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud, an avid fan of P. Ramlee, presented the award to his adopted daughter, Dian P. Ramlee, in a ceremony honouring veteran artists in Kuching.
On 31 October 2010, a 90-minute documentary on his life was aired on History Channel Asia. The documentary revealed that P. Ramlee's untimely death was a shock to the nation and a sense of collective guilt began to spread nationwide following his death. This was because, prior to his death, he had been discredited and rejected by the entertainment industry and the public at large who felt that he was a "has-been" and that his songs and films were no longer relevant or marketable. The documentary also revealed that, despite his previous success in the entertainment industry, P. Ramlee had died penniless, having given away the last of his money to a visitor to his house whom he felt needed the money more than he.
The P. Ramlee House is a museum situated along Jalan P. Ramlee (formerly Counter Hall road) in Penang, Malaysia. The building is a restored wooden house that was originally built in 1926 by his father and uncle. The house had previously undergone multiple repairs before being taken over by the National Archives as an extension of its P. Ramlee Memorial project in Kuala Lumpur. Items on display at the house include personal memorabilia related to his life in Penang and items belonging to his family.
Places named in honour of Ramlee
- Jalan P. Ramlee, Penang (formerly known as Counter Hall; renamed on 30 August 1983)
- Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur (formerly known as Jalan Parry; renamed in 1982)
- Bangunan P. Ramlee, Sekolah Kebangsaan Hulu Klang, Selangor (used as background in Masam Masam Manis)
- Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuching, Sarawak (formerly known as Jalan Jawa)
- Taman P. Ramlee (formerly Taman Furlong) a townships at Setapak, Kuala Lumpur and George Town, Penang
- Pawagam Mini P. Ramlee at Studio Merdeka, FINAS, Ulu Klang, Selangor
- Makmal P.Ramlee at Filem Negara Malaysia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
- P. Ramlee Auditorium (formerly known as RTM Auditorium), Angkasapuri
- SK Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Georgetown, Penang (formerly SK Kampung Jawa, his alma mater; renamed on 13 November 2011)
Films and songs
All of his films are now the property of the Shaw Organisation.
- P.Ramlee's Profile, sinemamalaysia.com.my (Malay language)
- P. Ramlee Cyber Museum
- P. Ramlee: Namamu Dijulang, Jasamu Dikenang Astro special tribute Program, October 2010
- P. Ramlee at the Internet Movie Database
- "Singapore Infopedia on P. Ramlee".
- Pogadaev, V., Pogadaeva, P. Velikiy Akter Malayzii (The Great Actor of Malaysia) – "Azia i Afrika Segodnya" (Asia and Africa Today), Moscow: Russian Academy of S 9, No. 4, p. 71–74
- P. Ramlee Songs, P-Ramlee.com.
- "P. Ramlee Superstar".
-  Taib receives Prestigious Perdana Seniman Agung P.Ramlee Award-mysarawak.org
- on YouTube.