Huang Yihe, the first director of the Spring Festival Gala, passed away on early Tuesday morning at the age of 85.
Jiang Kun, a crosstalk artist and host of the first Spring Festival Gala, confirmed Huang's death on Sina Weibo: "Mr. Huang is the forerunner of literary and artistic producers. He created the first entertainment gala for Chinese people in China and abroad. He has cultivated a large number of literary and artistic backbones for Chinese media.”
Huang started a new tradition for all Chinese
Huang Yihe came up with the idea to host a big party on the channel to celebrate the Spring Festival together with the audience. He put his thought into action in 1983.
In 1983, the first Spring Festival Gala aired on China Central Television. The studio measured only 600 square meters, providing space to a mere 60 staff and 200 attendees.
No one expected that from that year on, the Gala would become an annual event for millions of Chinese on their most important day of the year.
“The positioning of the first Spring Festival Gala was not very high, we wanted to host a simple party, covering the scene with only five cameras,” Huang said in an interview in 2012.
In 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1990, Huang was the chief director.
The first “Chunwan”
The Spring Festival Gala, also known as “Chunwan,” covers art forms including traditional culture, singing, dancing, Chinese operas, comedies and martial arts.
There were no professional hosts at the first Chunwan, the late crosstalk master Ma Ji, and actress Liu Xiaoqing did the job.
At that time, some songs were forbidden to be performed, but Huang put them on stage. Since the first Chunwan, the bans were lifted on many songs.
“I was much concerned about the richness of all the programs. Many songs were spontaneous outbursts of human emotion. Our audience needed this,” Huang said.
Li Guyi, known as the “Teresa Teng of the Chinese mainland” at that time sang six songs and her “Unforgettable Tonight” has long become a classic ending of the Gala and the most familiar melody for Chinese.
Watching the Spring Festival Gala is now an unmissable tradition during the Spring Festival just like eating dumplings and setting off firecrackers.
“Mr. Huang brought joy back to the audience, may he rest in peace,” netizens said on Weibo.