Tô Văn Lai, creator of the iconic Vietnamese musical variety show “Paris by Night,” died on Tuesday.
Born on May 11, 1937, in Saigon-Gia Dinh, Lai received a bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Education in Da Lat and taught at a girl’s school in My Tho, which earned him the life-long nickname “Professor.”
In 1972, Lai founded Thuy Nga Music Center with his ex-wife. He and his family fled to France four years later due to the Vietnam War.
In 1983, Lai produced the first “Paris by Night” in order to reach Vietnamese refugees living in France who felt distant from their culture. The production focuses on expressing Vietnamese culture through traditional folk songs, music from modern pop stars, plays and sketch comedies. The Vietnamese-language musical variety show, hosted primarily by Nguyễn Ngọc Ngạn and Nguyễn Cao Kỳ Duyên, is still running to this day. Shot in France, the United States, South Korea and Singapore, the show has 132 episodes at the time of its creator’s death.
Lai died at 11:05 a.m. at 85 years old after battling an illness. The latest “Paris by Night” episode was set for filming in Las Vegas on July 31.
The show in Las Vegas was planned to be Ngạn’s last show as MC before retiring. He told Head Media Now, “It’s a shame that Mr. Lai invited me 30 years ago, but he couldn’t make it to my farewell show because he left me 10 days before.”
Over 70-80 million Vietnamese people worldwide have watched “Paris by Night,” according to Thuy Nga Productions in California.
Featured Image via Thuy Nga – Paris By Night