Viet Hung & Tham Thuy Hang
(CLVN.VN) - The real name of the well–known actor Viet Hung was Nguyen Huu Hung. He was born in 1923 in Nha Trang, a coastal city in central Vietnam. Because of hardship, he, along with his mother and his elder sister, moved to Da Lat, a highland city. They later settled in Saigon.
Viet Hung started his singing career at the age of 16. At the beginning, he did not sing the traditional Cai luong songs but pop music with singers Manh Phat and Minh Dieu. He did not take up singing Cai luong as a professional job until he signed a contract with the Pathe’ Marconi recording company at the age of 25. Then he officially appeared on the stage of Mong Van troupe whose owners were Ba Tet and Mrs. Tu Kim Anh. He got married to actress Ngoc Nuoi at that time, too. Four years later, the couple moved to Huong Hoa troupe of the owner Sinh and became its leading artists in the play “Khi Dao Hat Tra On” (When an Actress Sings a Song to Show her Gratitude). In 1958, the couple Viet Hung – Ngoc Nuoi moved to Hoa Sen troupe of the actor Bay Cao. They took the parts in a social play named “Bay Chim Sat” (The Flock of Aircrafts), which retold about the war between France and Germany. The audience enjoyed the play immensely, and that was how the couple’s names became well known to the audience.
In 1966, Viet Hung and Ngoc Nuoi joined Anh Chieu Duong troupe, managed by actor Nam Chau. The troupe performed in Thong Nhat cinema, which was located on Thong Nhat highway, Saigon. There was a national lottery held in this cinema every Tuesday afternoon, and one Cai luong show every night. But on weekends, there was an additional Cai luong show in the afternoon.
Nam Chau was one of the musical teachers at the prestigious National School of Music and Performing Arts, located on Nguyen Du street, Saigon. Viet Hung’s colleagues at Anh Chieu Duong troupe were newly graduated students who later became film stars such as Huynh Thanh Tra who was the main actor in the film Loan Mat Nhung, My Chi, Tu Trinh, Huong Xuan, Hong Van (Tram Anh), Kieu Phuong Loan, Truong Long, Mai Thanh…
After that Viet Hung and Minh Chi established their own troupe named Minh Chi – Viet Hung. Their most famous play, “Duong Len Xu Thai”, received good raves from the audience. The play’s main artists were the couples Minh Chi – Anh Hoa and Viet Hung – Ngoc Nuoi, plus actor Huong Huyen’s older sister, whom everyone called Aunt Ba.
Unfortunately, Minh Chi – Viet Hung troupe was soon dissolved. Luckily, the owner of Thanh Minh troupe, Nam Nghia (actor Bao Quoc’s father), hired the couple to work for him. One of their unforgettable plays in Thanh Minh troupe was “My Nhan va Loan Tuong” (Beauty and the Angry Warrior).
But it was not until the play “Doan Tuyet” (Break-off) in which Viet Hung acted with the talented and well–known actress Thanh Nga that he fully showed his talent. He became so famous that wherever he went, people would call him “Cau Am”, his character in the play “Doan Tuyet”. The role of Cau Am Than was one of the outstanding achievements in Viet Hung’s performing career that no other artists have ever been able to duplicate.
Following Am Than was the role of Dinh in “Nua Doi Huong Phan” in which Viet Hung showed his greatest talent as a skillful and artful actor in Cai luong performing techniques. Soon later, he moved to Anh Chieu Duong troupe whose owner was actor/composer Nam Chau where he earned great success in the play “Giai Nhan va Ac Quy” (Beauty and the Beast).
After arriving in the USA, Viet Hung still worked hard to keep Cai luong alive amid the chaotic life and different culture of the new land. He realized that the modern and pop music could easily be adapted in this new environment, but it was very difficult for the traditional one. Viet Hung diligently gathered his former colleagues to form a mini Cai luong troupe. His dream was to revive the Vietnamese traditional music and to find and train young actors/actresses who can carry on his beloved passion. Actor Viet Hung directed and acted in such famous plays as “Tieng Hac Trong Trang”, “Nua Doi Huong Phan”, “Lan va Diep”, etc., which were performed in California and other states.
There was an interesting fact that few people knew. The very first time that Viet Hung performed in the USA, he did not act with his Cai luong colleagues but with a famed film star Kieu Chinh in a play called “A Dao Say” (A Drunken Actress) in the middle of 1976.
On an unforgettable day, December 31st, 2001, when there was only one hour left to welcome the 2002 New Year, actor Viet Hung forever left his colleagues, friends and his beloved music.
Translated by Onlyyou & lekt
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