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Zhao Benshan

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Zhao Benshan
Born (1957-10-02) 2 October 1957 (age 66)
Other namesUncle Benshan (本山大叔)
EducationLianhua Middle School[1]
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • television director
  • businessman
Years active1980 — present
Notable workI want to have a family (我想有个家)
  • Ge Shuzhen (葛淑珍)
    (m. 1979; div. 1992)
  • Ma Lijuan (马丽娟)
    (m. 1992)
AwardsHundred Flowers Award for Best Actor
Huabiao Award for Outstanding Actor

Zhao Benshan (simplified Chinese: 赵本山; traditional Chinese: 趙本山; pinyin: Zhào Běnshān; born 2 October 1957) is a Chinese skit and sitcom actor, comedian, television director, and businessman. Originally from Liaoning province, Zhao has appeared on the CCTV New Year's Gala, a widely watched performing arts program, every year from 1990 to 2011. Zhao's performances at the gala had made him a household name in China.[2]

Zhao is also known for his lead roles in the 2000 Zhang Yimou film Happy Times and the 2007 film Getting Home, as well as having directed and produced three television series based around rural life in his home province, Liu Laogen, Ma Dashuai, and Xiangcun Aiqing ("Country Love").[3]


Zhao was born in Lianhua Village, Kaiyuan, Liaoning province, to a peasant family.[4] He was orphaned at the age of 6.[5] Apprenticed to his uncle, he learned many local traditional performance arts, including erhu, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, and Errenzhuan, a traditional style of stand-up comedy that involves two people talking to each other on the stage which is popular in northeastern China.[6][7]

Jiang Kun, a nationally renowned xiangsheng artist, recommend Zhao to appear at the 1990 CCTV New Year's Gala, a TV program broadcast all over China to celebrate Chinese New Year. After his first appearance, he had appeared in each Gala show every year from 1995 to 2011.[8] Zhao's skits focus on social issues, including wealth disparity, the urban-rural divide, family and relationships, trust in society, and social changes in the era of economic reform. His works often drew inspiration from his own life in rural northeastern China.[9]

Zhao's most memorable performances have included "Yesterday, today and tomorrow" and "Fixing up the house" with Song Dandan, "Bainian" with Fan Wei and Gao Xiumin, a reprisal of "Yesterday, today, and tomorrow" with Song Dandan and Cui Yongyuan in 2006, and "Don't need money" in 2009 with Bi Fujian and Xiaoshenyang. Zhao became a household name in China since he began appearing at the Gala. His performances have generally received critical acclaim, earning the 'top-grade' prize (一等奖) for the "skits" category for thirteen years in a row between 1999 and 2011. Zhao's skit was almost always one of the most anticipated and talked-about events of the Gala.[10]

Zhao has appeared as an actor in many films, including Zhang Yimou's Happy Times (2000) where he played an aging bachelor who really wanted to get married.

Zhao was also active in producing and directing several successful television series. He acted as the title character in the series Liu Laogen and Ma Dashuai, as well as a secondary character in Xiangcun Aiqing ("Country Love") and their sequels.

Zhao was nominated for the Best Actor Award for his performance in Getting Home at the 2007 Golden Horse Awards, held in Taipei on 8 December 2007. He lost to Tony Leung for his work in Lust, Caution.[11][12]

Zhao took part in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay by being a torchbearer in the Liaoning leg of the relay in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province.[13]In 2008, the theme of this year's Spring Festival Gala was "Hand in Hand for the Olympics", and Zhao Benshan's skit "Torchbearer" expressed every Chinese person's expectation for the Olympics in CCTV CMG New Year's Gala.[14]

In 2009, Zhao was studying in the 4th intake CEO class at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.[15][16] In September 2009, Zhao was in the news again following a cerebral aneurysm rupture.[17] He was said to be in a stable condition after an operation, although close associates have mentioned that he often felt unwell in recent years when he is exhausted on the set.[18]

Zhao's apprentice, Xiaoshenyang, performed in the 2009 and 2010 CCTV New Year's Galas. Zhao has not performed at the CCTV New Year's Gala since 2012, which has led to public speculation about his health and his conflict with 2012 gala director Ha Wen. 2012 was the first time since 1994 that he did not perform at the annual event.[19]

In the afternoon of January 25, 2016, the 8th general meeting of the Liaoning Provincial Association of Songwriters was held in Liaoning Hall in Shenyang; Zhao Benshan was elected to become the Vice-chairman.[20]


Liu Laogen Grand Stage in July 2023.

Zhao is an entrepreneur and has led many business ventures. Zhao Benshan performs at the residency show at the "Liulaogen Guild Hall" (刘老根大舞台).[21] The Hall is located in the Qianmen area of Beijing, just south of Tiananmen Square and is immersed in part in building compounds with a history of some 280 years.[22] Zhao's show also tours in Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin and Jilin. Reportedly, these shows grossed over 100 million yuan (about US$14.64 million) in 2008.[23]

In 2004, Zhao Benshan co-founded the Benshan Art Academy at Liaoning University, to nurture new Errenzhuan players.[24] In 2005, he established Benshan Media Group, the parent company of Liaoning Folk Art Troupe, Benshan Production, Ruidong Culture Development Co. Ltd and Benshan Arts Academy.

In 2007, Zhao led his performing troupe to tour North America. They performed Errenzhuan in six cities including New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Zhao married Ge Shuzhen (葛淑珍) in 1979. Ge, a farmer from a village near Kaiyuan, was 19 at the time of their wedding. The two had a daughter, Yufang, and son, Tiedan, who had osteomalacia and emphysema as well as heart problems. Zhao and Ge divorced in 1992;[26] Ge took custody of the children. Ge Shuzhen worked a series of menial labour jobs after their divorce before becoming an entrepreneur. His son Tiedan died in 1994 at the age of 12. His daughter Yufang and her husband are reportedly local restaurateurs.[27]

In 1992, Zhao married his second wife, Ma Lijuan (马丽娟), a Hui Chinese woman from Chifeng, Inner Mongolia. In 1997 the couple had fraternal twins named Zhao Yinan and Zhao Jiaxuan.[28]

On September 30, 2009, it was reported Zhao had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was sent to hospital in Shanghai.[29][30] In December 2009, Zhao purchased a Bombardier Challenger 850 at a cost of 200 million yuan (US$30 million). He later stated that he was thinking of replacing the Challenger 850 with a newer Boeing or Gulfstream jet.[31][32]



[33] [34]


  • Liu Laogen - (2002), title character
  • Ma Dashuai - (2004), title character
  • Xiangcun Aiqing (2006−2019), recurring character[35]


  1. ^ "赵本山:不会放弃春晚舞台 网传移民国外是谣言" (in Simplified Chinese). 凤凰网. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  2. ^ Ge, Lan; Chen, Zhen Troy (2024). "Those Who Left and Those Who Stayed: Zhao Benshan's Comedy Sketches in the Spring Festival Gala and Their Impact on the Regional Stereotypes of North-East China". Identity, Space, and Everyday Life in Contemporary Northeast China. Springer Nature: 69–92. doi:10.1007/978-981-99-4530-6_4.
  3. ^ 秀场后台 (in Chinese). 恒海影原. 2015. p. 4. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  4. ^ 《东方笑神赵本山》. 赵本山传记系列 (in Chinese). 山东友谊出版社. 2023. p. 357. ISBN 978-7-80642-631-9. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  5. ^ 赵永才张小春 (2015). 小品入门学习指南 (in Chinese). 南文博雅. p. 101. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  6. ^ "Zhao Benshan". News.qq.com. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  7. ^ China. 群众文化司 (2008). 文化月刊 (in Chinese). 《文化月刊》社. p. 85. Retrieved 2024-02-20.
  8. ^ "Comedian Zhao Benshan quits Spring Festival Gala". China.org.cn. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  9. ^ "CCTV Spring Festival Gala's biggest star - China.org.cn". www.china.org.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  10. ^ "人民日报批赵本山:脱离主流文化,无异进入牢笼". Guancha.cn (citing People's Daily).
  11. ^ "《色·戒》狂揽金马奖七项大奖". www.chinaqw.com. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  12. ^ "赵本山与梁朝伟、郭富城争台湾金马奖影帝". www.chinanews.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  13. ^ "赵本山将在奥运开幕式上表演扭秧歌 出场一分钟". www.chinanews.com.cn.
  14. ^ "央视春晚赵本山宋丹丹"点火" 白云黑土将PK火炬手_其他_2008奥运站_新浪网". 2008.sina.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  15. ^ "曝赵本山曾是长江商学院班长". finance.people.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  16. ^ "赵本山入读李嘉诚长江商学院 55万学做CEO——中新网". www.chinanews.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  17. ^ "从赵本山住院谈起:剧烈头痛当心蛛网膜下腔出血——中新网". www.chinanews.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Comedian in stable condition". www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  19. ^ "Comedian Zhao Benshan quits Spring Festival Gala - China.org.cn". www.china.org.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  20. ^ "赵本山当选辽宁省曲协副主席,近日频繁现身_人事风向_澎湃新闻-The Paper". www.thepaper.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  21. ^ "从综艺节目布局,看赵本山下新棋_有戏_澎湃新闻-The Paper". www.thepaper.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  22. ^ "Expert says renovations of Liulaogen Guild Hall inflicted damage on cultural artifact". ebeijing.gov.cn. 2 November 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  23. ^ "一学术沙龙研讨赵本山作品:喜剧难有突破,农村戏丢弃了底蕴_文化课_澎湃新闻-The Paper". www.thepaper.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  24. ^ "赵本山与辽宁大学合同到期 本山艺术学院更名-新华网". www.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  25. ^ "Zhao Benshan Brings Dongbei Comedy to U.S. (From archive.org)". english.cri.cn. 2007-02-25. Archived from the original on 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2007-02-25.
  26. ^ "赵本山19岁结婚 揭离婚内幕 财产全归前妻_cctv.com提供". news.cctv.com. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  27. ^ "赵本山前妻葛淑珍照片曝光 自创业变百万富婆". Ifeng. October 27, 2011.
  28. ^ "赵本山女儿赵珈萱官宣结婚!92年老公大7岁!". www.163.com. 14 February 2023. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  29. ^ "谁在"瓜分"赵本山?_澎湃号·湃客_澎湃新闻-The Paper". www.thepaper.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  30. ^ "Comedian Zhao Benshan rushed to hospital". english.sina.com. September 30, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  31. ^ "The 10 Chinese Celebrities Who Own Private Jets". chinawhisper.com. June 21, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  32. ^ "拥有私人飞机的明星:赵本山花两亿买一架17座客机_新闻频道_中华网". news.china.com. Retrieved 20 February 2024.
  33. ^ "Zhao Benshan". imdb.com. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  34. ^ "Zhao Benshan". chinesemov.com. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  35. ^ "《乡村爱情4》放弃央视 赵本山:怕伤剧情 - 时尚中国". ent.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 20 February 2024.

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