Australian actor Gregory Rivers dies in Hong Kong, suspected suicide

Photo courtesy of South China Morning Post

Tributes flooded in for the late Australian actor Gregory Charles Rivers following the news of his suspected suicide at his residence in Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong last Friday, February 2. The Hong Kong TV drama icon, discovered near a tray of burning charcoal at his home in Tai Au Mun Village, left a void in the hearts of his fans and admirers.

Police, responding to a report from Rivers’ family, found no suicide note at the scene of the tragedy. The 58 year old actor’s untimely demise sparked an outpouring of grief on social media platforms over the weekend, with hundreds of fans expressing their sorrow on his Facebook page.

Gareth Williams, Australia’s consul general in Hong Kong and Macau, joined the chorus of mourners, expressing his profound sadness at Rivers’ passing.

“Born in Gympie, Queensland, Rivers moved to HK in 1988 and went on to become one of the best-known Cantonese-speaking foreign actors on Hong Kong television. My sincere condolences to Rivers’ family and many friends.”

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Rivers’ journey to stardom began less than four decades ago when he purchased a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, initially intending to work as an English teacher. Fate intervened, leading him to meet his wife, Bonnie Cheung, in the vibrant city. Subsequently, he secured a contract with TVB, the leading local free television broadcaster, launching his illustrious career in drama series.

Renowned for his command over Cantonese, Rivers graced the screens in over 200 soap operas, portraying a diverse array of characters from high-ranking police officers to foreign ambassadors. Embracing the local culture, he adopted the Chinese name Ho Kwok-wing, symbolising his affinity with the late Leslie Cheung.

Legacy

Fans reminisced about Rivers’ passion for Cantonese culture and his significant artistic contributions to Hong Kong.

“His love for Hong Kong, its film, TV, music culture, and Cantonese really shined through.”

Ivan Ho, a recruitment professional, fondly recalled Rivers’ ubiquitous presence in local dramas, highlighting his role as a colonial-era police officer in the online series OCTB.

“He learned Cantonese and truly assimilated into the society. That shows his love of the place, as Cantonese is very hard to learn.”

Sally Andersen, founder of Hong Kong Dog Rescue, revealed Rivers’ altruistic side, noting his longstanding support for the charity. Despite personal challenges, including his wife’s recent passing and his battle with skin cancer, Rivers remained committed to philanthropy, reported South China Morning Post.

Yannie Wong, the charity’s education and project manager, lauded Rivers’ generosity, citing his donation of concert proceeds to support their cause.

“Although it was not a huge amount, it’s his heart that mattered.”

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai), or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai). Please also contact your friends or relatives at this time if you have feelings of loneliness, stress, or depression. Seek help.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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