Kenneth Tsang, a stalwart of the “Golden Age” of Cantonese cinema, was found dead in a Hong Kong hotel room on Wednesday while undergoing mandatory quarantine after returning from overseas, local media reported.
Tsang, 87, was discovered by staff in a quarantine hotel two days after returning from Singapore, multiple outlets including Now News, the South China Morning Post and Oriental Daily said.
In an incident report, police said they were informed a “body” had been found by hotel staff around noon (0400 GMT).
The deceased was an 87-year-old male surnamed Tsang, the incident report said.
For Hong Kongers and fans of Cantonese cinema, Tsang was a household name thanks to a career that spanned six decades with more than 200 acting credits listed on film database IMDB.
He was also the face of a Hong Kong hair dye brand for four decades.
While he began acting in earnest in the 1960s, many of his most memorable roles came during the golden period of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and 1990s with films like The Killer, Supercop, Peking Opera Blues and Once A Thief.
He was also one of the few Hong Kong stars of that era to cross into Hollywood with supporting roles, mostly villains, in movies like The Replacement Killers, Die Another Day – a James Bond film – Anna and The King and Memoirs of A Geisha.
In what may well prove to be his last interview, Tsang told the Sin Chew Daily he had completed a two-week trip to Malaysia and had flown back to Hong Kong via Singapore.
He described relishing time spent solo travelling after being looked after by others for almost all previous trips in his life.
“I will quarantine if I must,” Tsang told the Chinese language Malaysian newspaper which ran a photo of the actor beaming as he held a piece of durian fruit.
Like China, Hong Kong has stuck to a strict zero-Covid strategy that has kept borders mostly closed throughout the pandemic with compulsory quarantine in designated hotels for returning residents.
For much of last year, people had to complete 21-days in quarantine although it has more recently been reduced to seven days.
Last week Hong Kong lifted a ban on non-residents flying to the city that had been in place for two years.
However, the return of widespread tourism or frictionless business travel in the short term future is unlikely.
Airlines are only flying a handful of routes to Hong Kong compared to before the pandemic and carriers that bring in more than five coronavirus cases face a five-day ban on that route under current rules.