|Native name 白杨|
Resting place Binhai Guyuan cemetery
Relatives Yang Mo (sister)
Siblings Yang Mo
|Full Name Yang Chengfang|
Children Xiaozhen Jiang
|Born 4 March 1920Beijing, China|
Notable work Crossroads The Spring River Flows East Eight Thousand Li of Cloud and Moon New Year's Sacrifice
Died 18 September 1996, Shanghai, China
Spouse Junchao Jiang (m. 1950–1991), Zhang Junxiang
Movies The Spring River Flows East, Crossroads, New Year's Sacrifice, Eight Thousand Li of Clou
Similar Zheng Junli, Cai Chusheng, Zhang Junxiang, Yang Mo, Shi Dongshan
Bai Yang (Chinese: 白杨; 4 March 1920 – 18 September 1996) was a Chinese film and drama actress mainly active from the 1930s to the 1950s, during which she was one of the country's most popular movie stars. She was considered the foremost of China's "Four Great Drama Actresses," ahead of Qin Yi, Shu Xiuwen, and Zhang Ruifang. Her most famous films include Crossroads (1937), The Spring River Flows East (1947), Eight Thousand Li of Cloud and Moon (1947), and New Year's Sacrifice (1955).
Bai Yang was born on 4 March 1920 to an affluent family in Beijing, the youngest of four children. Her original name was Yang Chengfang, and the novelist Yang Mo was her older sister. Her parents both died when she was 11, and she acted in a supporting role in Hou Yao's silent film Sad Song from an Old Palace (Gugong Xinyuan), made by the Lianhua Film Company. She then worked as a drama actress for a few years, acting in plays by Tian Han and Hong Shen, as well as foreign playwrights such as Oscar Wilde and Eugene O'Neill.
Early career and Sino-Japanese War
In 1936, Bai Yang joined the Mingxing Film Company in Shanghai. She was given the lead role in Shen Xiling's 1937 film Crossroads, opposite Zhao Dan, the "Prince of Chinese Film". The film was a big hit, and Bai Yang, whose performance received critical acclaim, became highly popular, and was compared by the media to Greta Garbo.
The Second Sino-Japanese War erupted soon afterwards, and the hard-fought Battle of Shanghai severely damaged China's film industry. With the fall of Shanghai, Bai Yang retreated to Chongqing, the wartime Chinese capital. During the eight years of the war, she starred in just three films, including Children of China (dir. Shen Xiling) and Youthful China (dir. Sun Yu), all patriotic in nature. In addition, she acted in more than 40 plays, also mainly patriotic. She was considered the foremost of the "Four Great Drama Actresses" of the time, ahead of her peers Qin Yi, Shu Xiuwen, and Zhang Ruifang.
Post-World War II
After the end of World War II, Bai Yang returned to Shanghai and starred in her two most famous films: Eight Thousand Li of Cloud and Moon (directed by Shi Dongshan) and The Spring River Flows East (directed by Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli), both dealing with the trauma of the war. Her performance in the latter, in which she played a factory worker abandoned by her patriot husband who turned into a factory owner, was considered her career landmark. The film broke all Chinese records and has been considered by some as China's Gone with the Wind. She also starred in Shi Dongshan's The Sorrows of a Bride (1948) and Wu Zuguang's Tears of Mountains and Rivers (1949).
Because of her contributions to leftist cinema, Bai Yang was invited to the Tiananmen Gate to attend the founding ceremony of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949. She subsequently became an employee of the Shanghai Film Studio and a vice-president of the Chinese Filmworkers' Association. She starred several more films, most notably Sang Hu's 1955 film New Year's Sacrifice, based on Lu Xun's eponymous short story. It was a great success and won the Special Prize of the 1957 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia. In 1957, surveys conducted by two major newspapers ranked her the most popular film actress in China.
Bai Yang's film career was abruptly ended by the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, during which she was persecuted and incarcerated for five years, although she was not physically harmed like many of her colleagues. After her rehabilitation in the 1970s, she played the role of Soong Ching-ling in a 1989 television drama celebrating the life of the widow of the founding father of modern China. In the same year, she was voted number one of the 10 most popular movie stars of the first 40 years of the PRC. In 1990, a major ceremony was held to celebrate Bai Yang's 60-year career.
Bai Yang was married to the film director Jiang Junchao, with whom she had two children. She died on 18 September 1996, aged 76. She is buried at the Binhai Guyuan cemetery in Shanghai.