P. Ramlee

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P. Ramlee
P. Ramlee in the late 1950s.
Background information
Birth name Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh
Born (1929-03-22)22 March 1929
Penang, Straits Settlements (now Penang, Malaysia)
Died 29 May 1973(1973-05-29) (aged 44)
Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Genres Traditional, pop
Occupation(s) Singer, actor, director, musician, songwriter, composer, producer
Instruments Ukulele, guitar, violin, piano, vocal
Years active 1947–73
Labels Parlophone, EMI

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 on the first day of the Eid festival, which fell on 22 March 1929. His father, Teuku Nyak Puteh, was a sailor from Aceh, who later married Che Mah Hussain.

He attended Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Melayu Kampung Jawa (Kampung Jawa Malay School) and Sekolah Francis Light primary schools. Next he went to the famous Penang Free School secondary school until the second World War broke out. During the Japanese occupation years in Malaysia, he continued his studies at the Japanese Navy Academy. When the war ended, he resumed his studies in Penang Free School and was very active in sports.

In 1947, he won the first place in a song competition organised by Penang Radio. seven years after his acting career started, P. Ramlee directed his first film, Penarek Becha. In 1957, he appeared in the first of his Bujang Lapok comedic films, in which he acted along with Aziz Sattar and S. Shamsuddin, and which are still popular among modern Malay film watchers.[1] During his career he directed and acted in 66 films, and had more than 360 songs to his credit.[2]

He returned permanently to Kuala Lumpur after years with Shaw Brothers in Singapore. His final film was Laksamana Do Re Mi in 1973. In his last song, "Air Mata di Kuala Lumpur" (Tears in Kuala Lumpur), also in 1973, the lyrics depict his crushed feelings from a series of disappointments and setbacks upon returning to Malaysia after years in Singapore.

P. Ramlee was married three times. His first marriage, to Junaidah in 1950, ended in a divorce four years later. His second marriage, in 1955 to Noorizan Mohd. Noor Menonolq, a member of the Royal family of State of Perak, ended in divorce in 1961. His last marriage was in November 1961, to Salmah Ismail, a very famous singer known as Saloma.

Death and legacy[edit]

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.[3]

On 31 October 2010, a 90-minute documentary on his life was aired on History Channel Asia.[4] During the documentary, it was revealed that P. Ramlee's death was a shock to the nation, and a sense of collective guilt began to spread nationwide, as prior to his death he had been discredited and rejected by his own nation,citing that he was a "has been" and that his songs and film were no longer marketable. The documentary also revealed that despite his previous success in the entertainment industry, P. Ramlee died a penniless man, having given away the last of his money to a visitor to the house whom he deemed needed the money more than he.

The P. Ramlee House is a museum situated along Jalan P. Ramlee (formerly Caunter 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[edit]

  • Jalan P. Ramlee, Penang (formerly known as Counter Hall; renamed in 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[edit]

All of his films are now the property of the Shaw Organisation.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ P. Ramlee Songs, P-Ramlee.com.
  3. ^ [1] Taib receives Prestigious Perdana Seniman Agung P.Ramlee Award-mysarawak.org
  4. ^ P.Ramlee Remembered (1929–1973) on YouTube.