hinese netizens are mourning the passing of one of China’s most well-known faces and voices.
Zhao Zhongxiang (赵忠祥) began his career with Chinese state news media in 1959, becoming one of the country’s first TV news anchors for CCTV. In 1979, he accompanied Deng Xiaoping on the Chinese leader’s visit to the US, becoming the first PRC journalist to enter the White House and interview a US president.
Already a household name across China, Zhao’s fame perhaps peaked in the 1980s when he began presenting a popular program called Animal World (动物世界) about wild animals and started hosting a little event called the CCTV Spring Festival Gala.
The annual Chinese New Year’s gala is known as the most-watched television program in the world. Zhao served as host at the gala a whopping 12 times between 1984 and 2000.
Zhao formerly retired from his post at CCTV in 2008. His son announced his father’s death following a fight with cancer on Thursday. He was 78 years old.
News of Zhao’s death has become the hottest topic of the day on Weibo with commemoration posts racking up hundreds of thousands of likes and tens of thousands of comments. “I heard your warm voice throughout my childhood. The laughter you brought will live on forever,” reads one popular comment.