Thousands gather in Taiwan for festive celebrity funeral

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NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan – Lion dancers and Lamborghinis took part in a massive funeral parade for one of Taiwan’s best-loved television stars Tuesday, known for his crass jokes and trademark bowl haircut.

Funerals in Taiwan are famously festive, sometimes even including pole dancers and strippers.

Flamboyant celebrity Chu Ke-liang was loved for his crude humour and appealed to the masses by incorporating Taiwanese dialect into his shows.

He died last month aged 70 after battling cancer.

Thousands of well wishers including leading politicians thronged a funeral parlour in New Taipei City to pay their respects, the entrance to the hall decorated with a glittery gold sign that read “Chu Ke-liang’s farewell show”.

Notorious gangster-turned-politician Chang An-lo, known as “White Wolf”, and legislative speaker Su Chia-chyuan were among the mourners.

A car covered in flowers and carrying Chu’s portrait led the huge procession through the surrounding streets, followed by lion and dragon dancers, a marching band, and a dozen luxury cars, often hired to show the importance of the deceased.

“If you have any unhappiness in your life, he has a way to make it go away,” said a man surnamed Chan, 60, who joined the tribute.

“He really was a legend, and a good person,” added Chang Yi-chuan, 60, who attended the procession with her husband.

Despite being loved by fans, the talk show host and actor struggled in his personal life.

He racked up massive debts from gambling and was once shot backstage at a show venue, according to local media. He went into hiding in 1993 and did not make a proper comeback until 2009.

He fathered five children with four wives – his daughter, singer Jeannie Hsieh, is also a celebrity in Taiwan.

The two were estranged for years but reconciled in March.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – 16:30

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