PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has lost one of her most beloved television icons. Chee Hood Siong, of the popular 1990s comedy Baba Nyonya, passed away on Sunday of a heart attack.
He was 66, and left behind wife Gladys Ong Keng Wah and two children.
Chee was best known for his role in TV1's Baba Nyonya, in which he dressed in drag to play Ah Chim, a Peranakan woman together with his long-time partner Kenny Chan, who played “her” best friend Bibik Kim Neo.
Reel buddies: Chee (left) and Chan on the set of ‘Nasi Lemak 2.0’ recently.
The series is recognised by the Malaysian Book Of Records as the longest-running TV series in the country ever, lasting from the late 80s till 2000, with 509 episodes in total.
Chan, who now owns a restaurant called King's Caf in Malacca, said that Chee would be sorely missed.
The pair of close friends had worked together in show business for more than 30 years.
“He was a very versatile actor. He could take on whatever role you gave him,” Chan said.
“We've gone through thick and thin and travelled all over the world together.”
The pair was most recently seen in the local box-office hit Nasi Lemak 2.0, directed by Namewee, in which he and Chee played a Baba and Nyonya couple who taught Namewee's Chef Huang character how to make a good nasi lemak sambal paste.
Fred Chong, producer of Nasi Lemak 2.0, said it took him and Namewee two months to convince Chee and Chan to come out of retirement and appear in their movie.
“Uncle Chee had already retired, and did not want to do the show without Kenny. We finally convinced them to do it after they learnt about the message of social unity that we wanted to convey,” said Chong.
“When they finally came on the set, they were amazing! They had so much chemistry that only about 50% of their scenes and dialogue were scripted. The rest was done impromptu!”
According to Chan, Chee was initially reluctant to take the role because he did not want to act as a woman anymore.
“I had to convince him to take the role by becoming my husband instead!” he said.
“I was glad that we took part in that movie, but I am also sad that it was to be his last movie.”