The lonely life of ‘Asia’s first handsome man’

Actor Ton Long was put in a lane by his mother, abandoned on the street in Hong Kong when he was a newborn.

On November 23, photos of Ton Long, 69, at a party in Canada attracted the attention of a large audience. Many people said they did not recognize the “First Asian handsome man” for a while. Ton Long settled in Canada, no longer doing entertainment activities and keeping his private life private.

Ton Long (left) at the age of 69. He was once chosen by People magazine (USA) as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world – the only Asian actor named in the list (1990). Photo: Sina

By page ThepaperTon Long’s life is like a movie. He was born in 1952 in Hong Kong, his mother put him in a basket and left him on the street when he was just born. Up to now, the artist still doesn’t know who his parents are and has no intention of finding out about his background because he doesn’t know where to start. He also never celebrated his birthday because he did not know the exact date of his birth.

At that time, a disabled woman adopted Ton Long because the Hong Kong government subsidized the adoption of orphans. Ton Long grew up with meals mixed with soy sauce. His mother raised a strange love, often beat and scolded Ton Long for petty things, even wanting to abandon him. Once, his adoptive mother took Ton Long to the bus stop, intending to leave him on the bus to go anywhere. But when she turned to look at Ton Long, she couldn’t bear to take his hand and went home.

When Ton Long was eight years old, his adoptive mother signed a contract to sell him to the Spring Autumn Peking Opera. The boy began a series of days of buckling practice, from singing Peking opera to dancing and practicing martial arts. With a quiet temperament, alienated from others, Ton Long is often bullied. He still has a scar on his head from being beaten at the troupe. The harsh life once made Ton Long suffocated and fled. Every time he sneaks away, he is caught and eaten.

At the age of 17, Ton Long went to the US to perform, then was subsidized by an American family to live here. The American family made it possible for the boy to study acting, dance, mime and swordsmanship at a school in California. When he first came to America, Ton Long had little English and no friends. The boy named himself John Lone in English because the word Lone sounds similar to “Long” and shows his “lonely” identity.

Ton Long acted in movies in the 1970s. Photo: Thepaper

Ton Long acted in movies in the 1970s. Photo: Thepaper

During this period, Ton Long studied and worked as a hired worker, selling donuts and serving calves at restaurants. Life was difficult, but he did not give up his dream of becoming an actor. In 1976, he was given the opportunity by director John Guillermin to play a small role in King Kong: Legend of Rebirth. Since then, Ton Long acted in a series of unnamed roles. He repeatedly told himself: “Don’t give up, endure”.

In 1985, Academy Award-winning director – Michael Cimino – chose Ton Long to play an important role in Year of the Dragon (Long Nian) – a film on the topic of Chinese gangsters. This role is assessed by the media as “can only belong to Ton Long”. The man’s extraordinary temperament when wearing a windbreaker and black glasses left a beautiful impression on many audiences. With this work, he became the first Chinese actor to be nominated Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes in 1986.

The lonely life of 'Asia's first handsome man'

Sun Long in the movie “Mat Dai Emperor”. Video: Columbia Pictures

A year later, the master Italian director – Bernardo Bertolucci – invited Sun Long to play Puyi – the last emperor of Chinese history – in The Great Emperor. Ton Long once told about going through a tough time when filming the work, he said: “When performing Pho Nghi, the director took all of my internal organs, I could only shrink, leaving only the shell.”

The Great Emperor helped Ton Long shine in Hollywood when the work won nine awards at the 1987 Oscars, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography… The film also won a series of awards in Italy, France, Japan, and the UK. Next, Ton Long left his mark on M. Butterfly, Rush Hour 2… Since 2007, the actor stopped acting.

After five months of working, Ton Long saved up to buy a house and a car. Up to now, he said that he lives simply but freely. Above Sohu, the actor said: “I have a small house, a car and no excess items. I am not hungry, so I am satisfied”. Having lived in the West for a long time, he still looks back to his homeland, once returned to Hong Kong to take care of and take care of his adoptive mother’s affairs, and visited the teacher at the Peking opera house in his childhood.

Actor Ton Long.  Photo: Onyx

Actor Ton Long. Photo: Onyx

The actor admits that he is not good at dealing with people, lacks a sense of security, so it is not suitable for marriage. He married a girl named Nina Savino in 1972, divorced after seven years, and has since been single. The artist said: “I have no family, no parents, no education, no childhood, I don’t really understand the relationship between people. I taught myself to be my friend, to be my own parent.” .

Sun Long felt that he was lonely when he came to the world, so he lived a lonely life. However, the actor does not think he is suffering and does not want others to pity and do anything for him. The actor raised two dogs, took care of two old trees, and called them grandpa and grandma. Many times when he looked at the tree, he was suddenly moved and burst into tears.

Loneliness does not make Ton Long lose himself, lose empathy with people and things. The actor said that every time he met children at the orphanage, he often did not hesitate to buy them the gifts they liked the most, and was touched when he saw the children running and jumping.

Nghinh Xuan


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