Taiwan entertainer Chu Ke-liang cremated and buried

More than 2,000 celebrities, politicians and fans visited his memorial service

Relatives of Chu Ke-liang at his memorial service. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Veteran entertainer Chu Ke-liang (豬哥亮), whose real name was Hsieh Hsin-ta (謝新達), was cremated and buried Tuesday under massive public attention.

Chu died of liver failure as a result of cancer on May 15, aged 70, after a long career filled with coarse humor, earthy slapstick comedy and hit movies but also marked by personal troubles and quarrels.

On Tuesday morning, about 2,000 celebrities, politicians and fans gathered in Banqiao, New Taipei City, for a funeral service which media estimated cost anywhere between NT$5 million (US$164,000) and NT$8 million (US$262,000).

According to his children, Chu had wanted his memorial service to be a happy occasion in line with his own public persona. A band played his favorite songs and a memorial video showed the highlights of his long career, including pictures of the star with his relatives.

Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕), the most prominent of his children as a pop singer in her own right, was also featured in the movie, with a picture of her by his bedside during a reconciliation which only came during the final months of Chu’s life.

She visited the memorial around 5:30 a.m. but was not present at the cremation during the afternoon in Sanxia, New Taipei City, and the burial itself in Keelung, where the hearse carrying Chu’s remains was welcomed by a 21-gun salute, reports said.

The Taiwanese-speaking comedian with the typical bowl haircut was a fixture in the 1980s, but disappeared from view in the 1990s, mainly due to a reported NT$1 billion (US$32 million) in gambling debts.

It wasn’t until 2010, when the Chinese-language Apple Daily published a picture of him buying food from a stall in Pingtung County that he came under public attention again, soon returning to the limelight with TV shows and movies.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 but reportedly rejected modern medical treatment because he feared it would hamper his work. The disease later spread to his liver, forcing him to spend the last few months of his life in hospital.