Legendary actor Sombat Metanee passes away at 85
Legendary Thai actor Sombat Metanee — one of the world’s most prolific movie stars — passed away in his sleep in his home in Bangkok on Thursday. He was 85.
His family became aware of his passing when they attempted to wake him up in the morning.
His funeral rite is being held from Thursday (August 18) to next Wednesday (August 24) at Phra Sri Mahathat Woramahawihan Temple in Bangkok's Bang Khen district.
Sombat is survived by his wife Kanchana and their five children — four sons and one daughter.
A legend of the Thai silver screen, Sombat had been a familiar face in the entertainment industry for many decades. He was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific movie actor, acting in 617 films, virtually all as the protagonist.
By his own count, Sombat had made more than 2,000 films and television shows and series, including Thai soap operas known as “lakorn”.
Sombat began his acting career in 1961 and soon became popular.
During his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, described as the “golden era” of the Thai film industry, the actor often worked on several films at the same time.
On average, he starred in 30 films a year, covering various genres ranging from action, drama and comedy to romance and musical.
Also well known for his singing voice, Sombat released a number of movie soundtrack records and albums.
During his long career, the veteran actor continued to star in Thai films and television series while making frequent appearances on talk shows and in television commercials.
Born on June 26, 1937, in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, his mother’s hometown, Sombat worked briefly in an engineering consulting company before he was drafted for military service.
After his conscription was completed in 1959, Sombat was looking for a job when he ran into an acting scout. His tall build and looks helped him get his first acting job at Channel 7 TV station. He starred in a drama series alongside Wilaiwan Wattanapanit, a popular actress at that time.
His first movie was “Rung Phet” (Diamond Rainbow) released in 1961.
In December 2016, the National Culture Committee selected Sombat as a National Artist in the field of performance arts.
The veteran actor also made his foray into politics. In April 2006, he was elected a senator for Bangkok but Parliament was dissolved after the military coup in September that year. Sombat was instead appointed a member of the National Legislative Assembly set up after the coup.
In 2007, Sombat became deputy leader of a new political party called Pracharaj, but he failed to get elected.
He later joined Pheu Thai Party and contested the 2011 general election as its party-list candidate, but failed to get elected.
Sombat once disclosed that he had been approached by three sisters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra — Yingluck, Yaowapa and Yaowaret — to join Pheu Thai in order to help with the national reconciliation efforts.
The legendary actor revealed that he had known Thaksin and his family for over three decades from the time the future prime minister was a police captain.