In following the lives and careers of Chinese filmmakers, particularly Hong Kong's, two things stand out as near-certainties: one, a young woman finishing among the top contenders in the Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant will have movie or TV opportunities; and two, when a Hong Kong film actress marries, she will give up her career. I've never come across an explanation for this, but it seems traditional that Hong Kong actresses, regardless of career status, always retire from movies after marriage. Over the decades, a succession of Hong Kong's most popular and successful actresses have disappeared from public view, often with their careers at a peak or even still on the rise: Cherie Chung, Chingmy Yau, Joey Wang, Veronica Yip, Anita Yuen ... One could assemble an all-star cast just from those who called it a career early, much too early for this fan, anyway. One prominent exception to the rule was Maggie Cheung. (The fact she married a foreigner may be the reason.) It appears to be more specifically a Hong Kong phenomenon than a generally Chinese one, as many mainland, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese actresses have carried on with their careers. This early retirement phenomenon goes back for several decades, at least to the 1950s. One who left very early, at a time she was one of Asia's top stars, was You Min 尤敏.
[Lucilla You Min]
"Yu Nü Huai Chun" 玉女怀春, with two veteran Hong Kong leading men, Wang Hao 王豪 and Huang He 黄河. The movie was titled "Anything Can Happen" for overseas release, but its Chinese title means "The Jade Girl Seeks Love," and from then on she was dubbed "The Jade Actress" by her fans and the press.
In 1954, she co-starred with Zhao Lei 赵雷 in "Ren Gui Lian"人鬼恋, adapted from a tale by the 17th Century ghost story writer Pu Songling, and named "Most Beautiful Picture" at the Southeast Asian Film Festival.
You Min left Shaw Brothers and moved to the recently-founded Cathay Organisation in July, 1958. Her first film for the new studio was the lead role in a musical comedy, "Yu Nü Siqing" 玉女私情 (literally, "The Jade Girl's Personal Relationships," but given the English title "Her Tender Heart," when released), for which she was named Best Actress at the 6th Asian Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur in 1959. She repeated the following year, again being named Best Actress at the 7th Asian Film Festival in Tokyo for her performance in "Jia You Xishi" 家有喜事 (All in the Family).
In 1961, recognizing You Min's Asia-wide appeal, Cathay lent her out to play the lead in a joint color production with the Toho Company of Japan, titled ""Honkon no yoru" 香港之夜" (Hong Kong Nights). Toho invested 2.5 million yen in a publicity campaign, and it paid off: "Hong Kong Nights" broke all box office records for a non-Japanese film at the Tokyo theater where it was premiered, and enjoyed a three months run. You Min became Japan's most popular foreign female star, dubbed "The Pearl of Hong Kong" by the Japanese press.
In October 1962, You Min's performance in the two-part war epic "Xingxing, Yueliang, Taiyang" 星星月亮太阳 (The Stars, the Moon and the Sun) won her a third Best Actress designation at the Asian Film Festival. That same year, a poll conducted by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun named her one of the top 10 movie stars.
In April, 1964, after completing filming on what proved to be her last film, You Min was married in London to a wealthy businessman, Gao Fuqiu. The couple took a four-month honeymoon trip through Europe before returning to Hong Kong, where on her 28th birthday she announced her retirement from motion pictures, at the summit of her career and one of Asia's most popular stars. You Min's life in retirement was a very comfortable one, and she and Mr. Gao traveled frequently throughout the world. They had three sons, all of whom eventually settled in the U.S., and in later life the Gao couple often traveled to the U.S. on visits. She appeared very seldom in public, serving on the judging panel at the 3rd Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant in 1975, and being honored at the 10th Taiwan Golden Horse awards in 1981, where she presented the award for Best Actor. This was her last appearance at a cinema-related event
You Min died in a Hong Kong hospital of a heart ailment on December 29, 1996, age 60.