10 Facts About Bai Yan, the Retired Veteran Actor Who Just Passed Away

Image: YouTube (Ah Cai La Kopi - SG 50 Memory Project)


If you’re as old as me, you’d know about Bai Yan, one of the veteran actors who used to be a regular on local TV.

Image: mustsharenews.com

Bai Yan has only played fatherly or grandfatherly roles as he joined the industry late, at the age of 65.

His granddaughter confirmed that he has passed away early this morning, saying, “He’s gone peacefully, and we’re all together.”

Here are ten facts about this actor who grew up with us.

What Happened

Bai Yan was hospitalised for pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, ten days ago. At 3:00 a.m. this morning, the retired veteran actor passed away.

His wake is held at the Singapore Casket, and his funeral will be held on Friday (23 August 2019).

An Entertainer from the Beginning

Bai Yan, whose birth name is Yan Bo Yuan (阎伯元), was born in 1920, Wuhan, China. In 1930s, when there was no TV, Bai Yan has already started his entertainment career, performing with the Yin Yue Music and Dance Troupe in southern China.

Soon after, he came to Singapore (back then, it wasn’t called Singapore but anyways) in early 1940s and continued his performance, this time also dabbling in magic and acrobatics mixed with dance.


Then SBC, the super old name of MediaCorp, came knocking.

Joined TV in 1985

Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, or commonly known as SBC, was established in 1980 and had its first local drama in 1982.

Back then, without YouTube, finding talents was a problem. In 1985, SBC reached out to Bai Yan to join them. By then, he was already 65, but he still took the challenge and starred the drama Blossoms In The Sun.

The rest is history.

Won the Special Achievement award at the Star Awards in 1996

In Star Awards, there’s always a Special Achievement award, and this year’s award was given to Chew Chor Meng.

Back in 1996, Bai Yan was then the second person to have received it. The inaugural award went to Xiang Yun.

Retired in 1996, Which Means His Acting Career is Merely 11 Years

If you’re like me, you’d go, “Only 11 years? I thought he’s been on TV forever!”

Bai Yan retired after receiving his Special Achievement award. By then, he was already 76 years old.

His Wife Was Also A Popular Performer

After Bai Yan came to Singapore in the early 1940s, he met Ye Qing, a local movie star, and married her soon after.

Ye Qing passed away at the age of 94 in 2016.

Still Very Loving with His Wife

A video speaks a million words: just take a look at how the late couple spoke to each other with that 老夫老妻 tone:

Love Singapore

When World War II broke out, Bai Yan went to Penang, but soon realised that his true love is in Singapore (maybe for his future wife, hehe), and so he eventually came back.

Had a Troupe with his Wife

After the war, Bai Yan had to go wherever his troupe brought him to. But soon after, he started a troupe with his wife and in an interview, he mentioned that the couple just learned everything themselves in order to create a career out from nothing.

Inspiring, indeed.

Documentary Made About Them

The couple, despite being not on screen that often, had a documentary made about their romance and career by Channel NewsAsia, which you can watch in full here.



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