Meritorious Artist Ho Kieng, an actor, poet and composer, passed away on April 3 in Ho Chi Minh City at the age of 88.

The artist had stuck to a busy schedule with a pace-maker that was installed to prod his weak heart in 2004.

Four years ago, he told the English language daily Vietnam News that he would die if he stopped acting.

He was playing a wealthy Chinese Vietnamese in the film Mua He Lanh (Cold Summer) that is still shooting.

Kieng, a Ben Tre province native, lived in a small room in an old apartment building in HCM City ’s Cao Thang Street . His room was barely enough for a bed, which served as his study as well as his dining table.

He wrote poems and composed music for vong co songs when he was not acting.

The artist spent his entire life playing supporting roles. He has acted in more than 200 films in a career that began in 1959, many of which are considered classics today.

The most important moment in his life happened after he play a role in Chung Mot Dong Song (Sharing the Same River) in 1959, the first ever of Vietnamese revolutionary cinema industry.

After the film was completed, President Ho Chi Minh called on the crew and enquired who among them were from the south. Kieng was one of two artists from the south performing in the film.

When President Ho went up to Kieng and embraced him, he felt like he was “flying in the sky”.

“I burst into tears then,” he recalled in talks with Việt Nam News four years ago, overcome with emotion.

For his tireless contributions, he was award the title Meritorious Artist in 1997. He was being considered for the People’s Artist title at the time of his passing.-VNA