Chinese opera singer SHI PEI PU, who inspired the Broadway show M. Butterfly, has died. He was 70.
A singer in the Beijing Opera who served as a spy for the Chinese government, Shi died in Paris, France on Tuesday (30Jun09).
The play M. Butterfly, which debuted on the New York stage in 1988, was loosely based on Shi's 20 year affair with French diplomat Bernard Boursicot - who was seduced to participate in Chinese espionage.
During their entire relationship Shi pretended to be a women, even claiming to be pregnant and producing a son.
It has never been established if Boursicot knew his partner was male.
The couple received six-year sentences after being convicted of the crime in France in 1986. They were pardoned a year later.
Stars including John Lithgow, Anthony Hopkins and Tony Randall told Shi's twisted love story in the show during its original run.
The play was reinvented just a few years later for the big screen, in a 1993 drama by the same name starring British actor Jeremy Irons.
After learning of his former lover's passing, Boursicot told reporters: “I’m not surprised. It is a long time he has been sick. Now it’s over 40 years.” Further details of his death had not been released as WENN went to press.
He is survived by his son Shi Du Du and three grandchildren, according to Boursicot.