A month after Taiwanese stuntman Blacky Ko's death, sadness still haunts his widow Song Li-hua. But with her daughter Jennifer by her side, she steels herself to share her memories of him
THE widow of Taiwanese stuntman Blacky Ko disputes reports that he drank heavily.
Stuntman Blacky Ko passed away last year leaving behind his wife Ms Song Li-hua (left), daughter Jennifer (right) and two sons Alan and Jacky. -- JOYCE FANG
Ms Song Li-hua, 44, admits that she had nagged him about his drinking but insists that he drank only on happy occasions.
'It's not really true that he liked to drink,' she tells LifeStyle at Swissotel The Stamford last Tuesday.
Ko, who had set a Guinness World Record after he jumped 38m over the Great Wall of China on a motorbike in 1992, died in Shanghai on Dec 9 after a night of hard drinking.
The sudden death of 'Asia's No 1 Flying Man' was reportedly due to an asthma attack. He was 50.
Asked about rumours that he was found in the home of China model Xie Dongna, his alleged squeeze, his widow says without a trace of emotion: 'One cannot make only male friends. Who says he can't have female friends?'
She adds: 'When you love someone, why worry about who he will love?'
Ms Song, a Taiwanese now based in Hong Kong, was in town to attend the Ren Ci Charity Show last Sunday, with eldest son Alan, 22, and daughter Jennifer, 21.
Her late husband had been a close friend and supporter of Venerable Shi Ming Yi, chief executive officer of the Ren Ci Hospital here.
Alan has since gone to Taipei to work on his debut album, while his mother and sister have returned to Hong Kong. Ms Song has a younger son, Jacky, 13, who is in Hong Kong.
The image of Ms Song sobbing when Alan sang Conquer in a 'duet' with his late father was one of the show's most touching moments.
Asked to recount how she met Ko, Ms Song, who is dressed elegantly in a light-blue sports jacket, denim capri pants and silver shoes for the interview, looks pained.
Looking away, she requests: 'Can you not ask? I will get very sad otherwise.'
But she does reveal that they met in Taipei in 1978. He was a gregarious bit-part actor, the third of six children from a fishing family in Tai-tung.
She was a shy dance student, the only daughter and youngest child in a family of six children.
Neither she nor her family thought he was suitable for her. Her family didn't like the fact that he was a divorcee and had only secondary school education.
But, she reveals, 'the more I ignored him, the more he pursued me'.
Once, he stood drenched in the rain to wait for her. He would call her up to eight times a day and would cry when she ignored him.
He pursued her for six months and she was eventually won over by his doggedness. But her family still had misgivings.
When he visited her home, her father, a bank employee, would not look at him.
Her housewife-mother would hang up or say she was not in whenever he called.
What they did not anticipate was that Ms Song would be pregnant with Alan about two years after they first started dating.
Her father, who was very sick around the time, gave his blessings. The couple got married on Sept 9 - a date signifying chang chang jiu jiu or eternity.
Her father died a day after that, she reveals without emotion.
Life was 'more difficult' during the early years. Quarrels were common.
She would demand to know why he returned late and he would retort: 'My job is already so tough, and you still talk to me like that?'
She learnt to be less demanding, she says.
As a friend, he was helpful and warm. As a father, he provided very well for his family.
'He was very firm and strict with the kids but never hit them.'
What she never got used to, she says, was the anxiety stemming from the dangerous stunts he did for a living.
Daughter Jennifer, a college student now, remembered how nervous she was when they went to see Ko drive a car 55m over the Hukou Waterfall on the Huang He (Yellow River) in Shanxi province, north China, in 1997.
'I almost vomited out my stomach and heart,' she told Lianhe Zaobao some years ago.
Nicknamed Xiaohei or Blacky due to his dark complexion, Ko's other nickname was Ke Dadan, or Ke The Brave.
He shot to fame as a stuntman in movies like Aces Go Places (1982) and Wheels On Meals (1984), and dabbled in directing and singing.
Now, Alan, who wants to be a singer, is following in his father's footsteps into showbiz.
He and his sister are coping with their father's death, but Ms Song feels the saddest for younger son Jacky. 'He has lost his father at such a young age,' she says, her eyes reddening.
A few minutes later, her mobile phone rings. 'Bao bei (Precious), mama is talking to a reporter now and will call you later,' she says in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin.
It is Jacky calling from Hong Kong. He did not accompany her here as he had started school.
The family is familiar with Singapore. From 1992 to 1999, they lived here. Alan was enrolled at the ISS International School, Jennifer at Overseas Family School and Jacky at Nan Chiau Primary.
Blacky had relocated his family from Taiwan to Hong Kong in the 1980s. Then, when there were worries about Hong Kong's 1997 handover to China, the family came here.
Ko continued to live and work in Hong Kong and Taiwan, visiting the family here three to four times a year.
Permanent residents then, they lived in the Bukit Timah and Orchard Road areas.
Ms Song says she likes Singapore's stable and safe environment so much that she is considering moving here again.
The family moved back to Hong Kong in 1999 after Ko was diagnosed with lymph-node cancer.
In fact, she was in Singapore visiting friends when she heard about her husband's death.
'I couldn't believe it. How can it happen?' she describes her reaction when Alan called with the news.
While Ko was well-off, it was reported in the Taiwanese press that he did not leave his family much as he had no insurance and was generous to a fault.
Ms Song, however, says that the family's finances are taken care of by businesses he left behind.
Their expenses are normal and they are not extravagant, she adds.
The widow, who had always wanted to be a kindergarten or dance teacher, has thought about working, but her children have advised her against it.
As the interview draws to a close, she thanks you for helping her bring back sad but sweet memories of her husband and her past.
And there is one she would not mind having more of.
'He would hold my hand and say: 'I'd love you always, even after I die',' she says softly.
The Straits Times
Edited by starizblue, 19 January 2004 - 03:14 PM.