P. Ramlee, the Malaysian movie legend, was born in the house of his grandmother in Counter Hall, Penang. So the house located on an off-road to Counter Hall Road (renamed Jalan P. Ramlee after its distinguished resident on 30 August, 1983) is technically P. Ramlee's Birth House, or to be exact, P. Ramlee's grandmother's house. It was however misleadingly called the P. Ramlee House. This humble Malay kampung house that would have passed for any other, if not for the fact that Malaysia's most famous entertainer was born there.
This is in fact the replica of P. Ramlee's grandmother's house. It was celebrated because P. Ramlee was born there. However, he stayed with his parents at the City Council quarters in Kampung Jawa, not far from the present GAMA departmental store today.
Replica of P. Ramlee's House (23 January, 2005)
The replica was opened by the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Datuk Seri Sabbaruddin Chik on December 13, 1991. Adjacent to the house is the P. Ramlee Gallery at the Pustaka Warisan Seni Complex. Opened in 2000, the gallery showcases P. Ramlee's personal artefacts, photographs and movies. It is opened daily from 10.00am to 5.30pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Admission is free. To get in touch with the gallery, call 04-281 7484.
P. Ramlee's Biography (1929-1973)
P. Ramlee was born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh (1929-1973) at his maternal grandparents' house at 40A Counter Hall, Penang, on the morning of Idil Fitri in March 22, 1929. His father, Teuku Nyak Puteh Teuku Karim (1902-1955) was a navigator from Acheh while his mother Che Mah Hussein (1904-1967) was from Kubang Buaya, Seberang Perai.
Teuku Zakaria studied at the Sekolah Melayu Kampung Jawa, followed by Francis Light School at nearby Perak Road. He had his secondary education at the Penang Free School at the end part of World War II. During the Japanese Occupation, he learned to play the piano, violin and ukelele from a Japanese soldier known only as Hirake-san. On June 1, 1948, he was spotted by Indian film director B.S. Rajhan, who was attached to the Malay Film Productions of Jalan Ampas, Singapore, during the Malay Agriculture Show. He was singing the song "Azizah." Thus, at the age of 19, his entertainment career began.
Commemorative plaque, P. Ramlee's House (23 January, 2005)
Taking on the name P. Ramlee, which he first used in 1947, he starred in his first film, Chinta, in P. Ramlee's professional name reflects its Indian influence, as does many of his films. The P. in P. Ramlee stands for Puteh, his father's name. Throughout his career, he acted, directed and wrote a total of 66 movies as well as 359 songs.
P. Ramlee married three times. His first marriage was to Junaidah Daeng Harris, when he was only 21 years old. It ended in divorce four years later. This was followed by his marriage to Noorizan Mohd Noor, in February 6, 1955, also culminating with a divorce, in 1961, when he married the actress Salmah Ismail, better known as Saloma, in the same year. He has nine children, among them three stepchildren and four adopted children. His eldest is Nasir P. Ramlee, born in 1953.
P. Ramlee Gallery (23 January, 2005)
P. Ramlee won Best Actor award at the Asia Film Festival in Tokyo for the dual roles he played in the film Anakku Sazali (1956), where he played the roles of a caring father and his spoilt son. P. Ramlee has a son named Sazali (b. 1958), who is presently a rubbish collector for Syarikat Alam Flora in Kuala Lumpur.
He died of a heart attack at 5:30am on May 29, 1973, at the age of 44. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Panglima Setia Kota (PSM), which carries the title Tan Sri, and was accorded the title of Seniman Agong (Great Artiste) in the same year.
The nearest bus stop is along Caunter Hall Road (Jalan P. Ramlee). The bus stop is served by Rapid Penang bus 206. The house itself is located along Lintang P. Ramlee. It is about 5-10 minutes' walk from the bus stop.
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