Renowned actor and former underground Party member passes away at 95
Published: Jun 08, 2022 10:57 PM
Lan Tianye Photo: VCG
Lan Tianye Photo: VCG

Lan Tianye, a famous actor and recipient of the July 1 Medal, the highest honor in the Communist Party of China (CPC), passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95. He was known by most Chinese from several TV dramas which almost the entire nation watched. However, Lan had a less known legendary past as underground Party member.

Born in 1927, Lan's original name was Wang Runsen. His sister was a Party member and turned their home in Peking, the name of the city at the time, which was under occupation of Japanese troops, into a contact center of the Party in 1945. Wang was inspired by revolutionary thoughts during that period and became a Party member the same year.

Wang left Peking for liberation areas in 1948 and started to use the name Lan Tianye to cover his identity in Peking. He continued to use the name through the rest of his life.

Lan was the first group of actors of the Beijing People's Art Theater and dedicated more than seven decades to stage performance as an actor, director and educator.

After joining the theater, Lan did not immediately start performing on stage. Instead, he began doing a variety of jobs to accumulate enough experience for his future acting career, including making cement in a factory, farming in the suburbs and feeding livestock with local villagers.

Those backstage jobs laid a solid foundation for Lan's career. In March 1958, "Teahouse" debuted to much public acclaim with Lan playing Qin Zhongyi, one of Lan's most remembered characters.

Younger generations got to know Lan from his role in "The Creation of the Gods," a TV drama adapted from ancient classic literature. Lan played Jiang Ziya, a wise strategist of the Zhou Dynasty (1046-771BC) who was bestowed by the "Primeval Lord of Heaven."

After hearing the news of Lan passing away, netizens shared their stories of watching Lan's TV dramas and stage performances to say farewell to the beloved artist. Netizens also shared clips of his performances to pay him tribute.

Lan retired in 1987 but never left the stage. He won the China Theater Award for life achievement in 2013 and was awarded the title of outstanding CPC member in 2016.

In 2021, he was conferred the July 1 Medal among 29 recipients of the top honor.