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Multiple organ failure and lung cancer claim life of Tao Dawei, 69

TAIPEI -- Tao Dawei (陶大偉), the veteran entertainer known for his comic performances, died of lung cancer and multiple organ failure at National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital yesterday at the age of 69.

Tao, affectionately known as “Uncle Tao,” was hospitalized in August with cardiac problems. At the time, his son David Zee Tao (陶喆), a famous pop singer, canceled a planned trip to Beijing to stay with his father.

David Zee Tao issued a statement Wednesday evening confirming that his father died at around 3 p.m.

A versatile entertainer, Tao brought great joy and laughter to local families in the 1980s when he hosted a popular children's television program with his unique brand of humor and witty banter.

He began his stage career by moonlighting as a rock singer while studying international commerce at National Chengchi University and once said he felt excited when sunset came and he could sink himself into his beloved music world.

Suffering often from depression and despondency when he attended his daytime classes, he finally decided to transfer and study fine art at National Taiwan College of Arts, the precursor of National Taiwan University of Arts.

This laid the basis for his later pursuit of a career in animation production.

Tao graduated in 1964 and moved to the United States in 1972 to work as a layout artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

He liked to say that his stay in the U.S. was not aimed at pursuing the American Dream, but rather at chasing his animation dream. The eight years he spent at Disney were the happiest of his life, he once said in an interview.

Since his return to Taiwan in 1980, Tao starred in 21 films, released seven albums and produced 24 TV programs, many of which he himself hosted or co-hosted.

Tao was also dedicated to children's education, using innovative methods to instill ethical concepts to youngsters in many of his programs. He won many international honors and bagged 14 Golden Bell awards, including one for best male TV host and another for best children's program producer.

Over the past decade, Tao spent his energy on the comic and animation industries, focusing in particular on 3D animation film research and development.

He set up a foothold in Shanghai in 2000 to develop the animation business there, and the studio produced a widely acclaimed 52 episode animated feature that can be literally translated as “Black Adventurous King.”

Tao, who would have turned 70 Sept. 28, is survived by his wife Catherine Wang, a famous Peking Opera diva, and his son.

Describing his father as a man of simplicity who did not like to bother other people, David Zee Tao said he wants to keep the funeral arrangements low-profile, in line with his father's wishes.

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This file photo shows a father-and-son bonding moment at a telethon event. Legendary comedian/actor/animator Tao Dawei (陶大偉), right, father of the famous pop-star David Tao (陶喆), died of lung cancer at the age of 69 at the National Taiwan Hospital, yesterday. His portfolio was extensive, ranging from singer to animator, television host and actor. (CNA)

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