Born as Ruan Fenggeng in Shanghai, Ruan made her first film at the age of 16 for the then prominent studio, the Mingxing Studio. Her first big break came in Spring Dream of an Old Capital or Reminiscences of Beijing (1930). A massive hit, it was her first major work after signing for the newly-formed Lian Hua Studio.
Thereafter Ruan worked intermittently with the company's directors on a series of films. Ruan's best works came after 1931, starting with the melodrama Love and Duty, directed by Bu Wanchang. With Three Modern Women (1932; dir: Bu Wanchang), she started her collaboration with a group of talented leftist directors. In Little Playthings (1933), a film by Sun Yu, Ruan played a long-suffering toymaker. Her next film, Shennü (The Goddess, 1934; dir: Wu Yonggang), is often hailed as the pinnacle of Chinese silent cinema, with Ruan's portrayal of a sympathetic prostitute one of the classics of the era. Later that year, Ruan made her last film, New Women, with director Cai Chusheng, where she played an educated woman forced to death by an unfeeling society.
Under massive pressure from street tabloids, retaliating for a scathing depiction of them in New Women, Cai was forced to make extensive cuts to the film. Ruan's private life was mercilessly hoarded upon and her on-going law-suit with her first husband a source of vindictive coverage. Faced with these and with intense private problems, Ruan poisoned herself with an overdose of barbiturates in Shanghai on March 8, 1935, at the age of 25. Her funeral procession was reportedly three miles long, with 3 women committing suicide during it.
A complete print of the presumably lost Love and Duty (1931) was discovered in the 1990s in Uruguay.
Ruan Lingyu Facts
|Birth Name||Ruan Fenggeng|
|Birthday||April 26, 1910|
|Birthplace||Shanghai, People's Rep. of China|
|Date of death||March 8, 1935 (age 24)|