CCTV Spring Festival Gala's biggest star

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Zhao Benshan

Zhao Benshan (born October 1958 ) is a comedian, actor, producer, director and screenwriter. He achieved nationwide fame at the Spring Festival Eve Gala of China Central Television (CCTV) in 1990. Since then he staged a skit almost every year, winning top prizes for many of them. In recent years, his TV series based on rural life have also been immensely popular in China. He has been dubbed "King of Skit" and "Chaplin in the East."


Zhao Benshan was born in a farmer's family in Lianhua Village, Tieling, Liaoning Province. His mother died when he was five years old. At the age of 8, he saw his father was banished to the yet-to-be-cultivated land in northeast China and Zhao was raised by his relatives and neighbors.

At the age of 6, Zhao became an apprentice to his uncle and started learning traditional Chinese instruments and performing errenzhuan (two-people comedy skit). He displayed great talent.

In the late 1970s, before reaching 20, Zhao married his first wife, Ge Shuzhen. They had a daughter but divorced in 1991.

In 1992 when Zhao was bedridden after a car accident, one of his former collaborators, Ma Lijuan, spent a lot of time taking care of him. They developed romantic attachment and tied the knot the same year. In 1997, Ma gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.

Zhao Ben Shan with his wife and twins.

Zhao Ben Shan with his wife and twins.

In 2003, Zhao was elected as deputy to the People's Congress in Liaoning. He attended an annual session of the 10th National People's Congress held in Beijing in 2007.

In 2009, while shooting a TV series in Shanghai, he suffered a cerebral aneurysm rupture and was hospitalized. He recovered after an operation.

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