Celebrities and their childhood memories

Take a trip down memory lane with these #nofilter sepia-toned pictures of celebrities during their younger days

Can you identify the actors from their childhood photos?
Can you identify the actors from their childhood photos?
04 Oct 2017

Can you identify the actors from their childhood photos?

We speak to several local stars about their childhood days and reveal all the secret gluttons, smart alecks, goody-two shoes and mischievous imps in our story. How did Zoe Tay sustain a cut on her forehead, how many As did Tay Ping Hui get in his PSLE and which actress starred in an advertisement with Jeanette Aw when she was a child? Answers are revealed in our gallery. Enjoy!

Chen Yixi
Chen Yixi
07 Oct 2017

Chen Yixi

We had a hard time trying to identify Yixi from his K1 (or K2) classroom picture - our dollar is on the boy sitting in the first row, second from the right. Thanks to the 26-year-old, we get a rare glimpse of Xiang Yun and Edmund Chen's life at home--21 years ago--when they were celebrating Yixi's fifth birthday.

In case you're wondering why there are some 'feminine' pictures in the collection of squared red frames on the right, that's Yixi's youngest sister, Yixin. Their parents decided to collect their old IC (identification card) pictures and frame them up together for a one-of-a-kind art piece. 

Bonnie Loo
Bonnie Loo
04 Oct 2017

Bonnie Loo

Apart from singing and acting, Bonnie also has a flair for Math. The 23-year-old used to attend abacus enrichment classes and even represented her school and won several awards in various abacus competitions. Apart from being a smart aleck, the Campus SuperStar winner was quite a natural at posing for photographs too - check out her coy (and almost soulful) expression. Explains why she’s in this line of business, huh?

Hong Ling
Hong Ling
04 Oct 2017

Hong Ling

We can’t take our eyes off toddler Hong Ling. The actress, who has Thai blood running in her family (her mum is Thai), has clearly got the doe-eyed look down pat and had an enviable wardrobe to boot too. Check out her sailor-meets-Michelin man inspired outfit and the frilly frock she wore to the playground. Our favourite? The sexy bareback romper she wore when she was mimicking monkeys at the zoo. Ooh la la.

Joel Choo
Joel Choo
04 Oct 2017

Joel Choo

They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth and Zhu Houren’s youngest son, Joel, can attest to that. The 1.82m tall actor tells us his first visit to the United States and the outing to the theme park with his family remains one of his favourite childhood memories to date (partially because he “bought a lot of toys”). In case you’re wondering what’s Joel’s first ‘acting’ role (it isn’t Channel 5’s Faculty, apparently), it was when he played a Pharaoh from the Prince of Egypt for his K2 graduation performance. Doesn’t he look kingly in his golden robes? 

Foo Fang Rong
Foo Fang Rong
04 Oct 2017

Foo Fang Rong

Child actress Fang Rong had an early start in showbiz doing bit roles on dramas (she was in Channel 5’s Parental Guidance as one of Hong Kong actress Jessica Hsuan’s kids) and advertisements – one of which was a SingTel  commercial done 17 years ago, featuring Jeanette Aw as a bride and her co-star. The ever “camera ready” cherubic kid tells us about her fondest childhood memory growing up: “It was a family outing to the zoo! And I still remember it as if it was yesterday, playing at the playground with my father.” Aww…

Desmond Ng
Desmond Ng
04 Oct 2017

Desmond Ng

Be it baby pillow, bolster, blanket or a rag doll, we all have that one ‘chou chou’ item that accompanied us through our childhood. For local singer-actor Desmond it was a cuddly panda soft toy which used to share the same height as him until he got “way taller”. He tells us he still gets laughed at by his relatives (they still call him “ah bui”) for his chubby figure and ultra-pinchable cheeks as a baby.

Denise Camillia Tan
Denise Camillia Tan
04 Oct 2017

Denise Camillia Tan

Another actress who developed an attachment to a toy she had as a kid was Denise, who brought her teddy bear (see picture of her wearing a red jumper) with her everywhere she went, including her first overseas trip to Lake Toba, Medan in Indonesia with her family and relatives.

“It’d been with me for many years until one of its eye went missing,” she shared. “My mum would try to get rid of it because of its terrible condition, but I would insist on keeping it!”

The statuesque former beauty queen (and her mum) also had a penchant for sailor frocks. Sundays used to be her favourite day of the week because she’d get to dress up or church, said Denise. “My mum would doll me up and I would do the final touches by picking the accessories. I always wanted to look cool as a child hence the sunglasses and epic pose. Mum reckons that I’m like a ‘little boss.’”

Eleanor Lee
Eleanor Lee
04 Oct 2017

Eleanor Lee

Gone are the days when Eleanor had a face as “round” as glutinous rice balls or the “moon,” as the young starlet said so herself in these pictures shared on her Instagram account. If there’s anything we can all agree on, it’s that Quan Yi Fong’s teenage daughter, who is 17-going on-18 (her birthday falls on Oct 12!) has blossomed beautifully.  

Richie Koh
Richie Koh
04 Oct 2017

Richie Koh

It’s Morphin' Time! We bet Richie chanted this line umpteenth times when he was imagining himself as one of the Rangers during his childhood days. He has even nailed the pose with his toy sword—his first Power Ranger sword—from what he calls his “favourite TV show.” So who was his favourite Power Ranger of all time? The Red Ranger, he tells us, “I remember I used to idolise the Red Ranger ‘cos he was the leader.”

Once a Ranger, always a Ranger. Go Go Power Rangers! 

Michelle Wong
Michelle Wong
04 Oct 2017

Michelle Wong

Some things don’t change with time. And for Michelle, it’s her love for sweet food which can be traced back to her toddler days, like that one time she stuffed herself silly with pastries (“this was me in my natural state – eating,” she tells us) at a hotel’s breakfast buffet during a family holiday more than 20 years ago.

Another memorable vacation she had with her family took place in Penang, where she burst into tears at the park. “Because I was frightened by all the monkeys around me! Apparently I would not stop crying but hey, who can blame me. Monkeys are scary, ok?” 

Zoe Tay
Zoe Tay
12 Oct 2015

Zoe Tay

With six siblings (Zoe is the second youngest kid) at home, Zoe grew up in a boisterous environment under the companionship of her brothers and sisters. A doting elder sister and filial granddaughter, Zoe used to save her allowance to spend it on snacks for her younger sister and grandmother, and said. “I used to be really thin and slim because I did not eat a lot back then (laughs).”

Ah Jie was also a playful kid and sustained a few “battle scars” (which still can be seen on her forehead if you squint hard enough) when she fell on the floor head first after trying to jump across some hurdles at home and was eventually admitted into hospital due to the severity of her injuries. 

Andie Chen
Andie Chen
12 Oct 2015

Andie Chen

Awww, look at that: an 11-year-old Andie shooting VR Man with James Lye. “I think that was my second or third acting project,” he recalled.

Zheng Ge Ping & Hong Hui Fang
Zheng Ge Ping & Hong Hui Fang
12 Oct 2015

Zheng Ge Ping & Hong Hui Fang

Hui Fang cannot remember what she was like as a child, but we’re content just staring at those ridiculously charismatic baby pictures of hers (seriously, which one-year-old has eyebrows that good!?).

As for Ge Ping, pictured at about four of five years old above, he says he was “quite obedient and cheerful, but very playful”. “I was always jumping up and down and got many bruises because of it! (insert smile emoji)”

Related:
Sora Ma and Zheng Ge Ping act as a May-December couple
Local celebs and their encounters with internet trolls

James Seah
James Seah
12 Oct 2015

James Seah

The above pictures chart James’ transformation from his days as a milk bottle-drinking baby to when he started schooling – and wearing spectacles! Apart from making weekly trips to a park near his old family home in the Queenstown area, James shared that he used to be a glutton during his childhood days and “loved to eat”. Fun fact: he developed a fear of heights during his younger years and still suffers from acrophobia today.

Clockwise, from left to right: James when he was a few months old, James at 1 to 2 years old, and James in Primary School.

Catch James in Tanglin, weeknights, 8.30 pm on Channel 5.
Watch Tanglin on Toggle-It-First. 

Kate Pang
Kate Pang
12 Oct 2015

Kate Pang

Do you see the striking resemblance between baby Aden and his mama? We sure do, especially in Kate’s baby picture which featured a boyish-looking version of the actress. While she grew out of her boyishness eventually, Kate retained her impish and playful nature – will you just look at her grinning like a Cheshire cat in the pictures!

Raised by her granny, Kate remembers accompanying the older lady on marketing trips and watching cooking programmes with her. Apart from caring and cooking for her, when Kate was in junior school, her granny would even personally deliver a lunchbox to Kate during lunchtime to prevent the food from turning cold.

Clockwise, from left to right: Kate when she was a few months old, Kate in her toddler years, Kate in her ‘fattest state’, and Kate with her older sister.

Tay Ping Hui
Tay Ping Hui
12 Oct 2015

Tay Ping Hui

Doesn’t Ping Hui look studious wearing that mortarboard in his Kindergarten graduation picture? Apart from being a sporty kid (the actor tells us he’d stay back after classes just to play a game of basketball every day) and one of the most popular students in school, the Catholic High boy revealed that he was also one of the top scorers in school – and in the nation. “My results were excellent! I got into the country’s top 10 percent for my PSLE, and scored 1A* and 3As!” he quipped.

And you wonder why we said he’s tipped to have a future in politics.

Felicia Chin
Felicia Chin
12 Oct 2015

Felicia Chin

Before the invention of cheap flights, places like Genting and Cameron Highlands in Malaysia were the most affordable road trip getaways and the closest we’d get to experiencing “winter” in a tropical climate like Singapore. “I remember the cold weather and how the room was perfectly air conditioned just by opening the windows,” shared Felicia as she reminisced about her first overseas trip in Genting.

Pictured above with her mum, sister and cousin, here’s what the little pipsqueak with a rainbow-coloured sweater draped over her shoulders had to say of her eclectic fashion sense: “I thought I looked really cute with the colour combinations and my bubble gum shoes.”

Adrian Pang
Adrian Pang
12 Oct 2015

Adrian Pang

“That’s me on my first birthday, with my mum. I was demonstrating to her that I would grow up to be a starving actor.”

Yes, a starving actor who would go on to start his own theatre company and be selected to play the late, great Mr. Lee Kuan Yew in a musical.

Related: Adrian Pang: First Mandarin stage role more stressful than playing Lee Kuan Yew

Zhang Zhen Huan
Zhang Zhen Huan
12 Oct 2015

Zhang Zhen Huan

The ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ of showbiz is definitely every parent’s dream kid – the 31-year-old was (and still is) a goody-two shoes and has never gone through a rebellious phase in life – not even during his teenage years!

But that did not stop the only child at home from getting into a fair bit of trouble with his older cousin who doubled up as his playmate at home. The two boys once gave their grandmother a haircut when she was sleeping, recalled Zhen Huan. “He (referring to his older cheeky cousin) would bully me and because I’m afraid of him, I’d just follow him!”

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
12 Oct 2015

Romeo Tan

Like most kids who dreamed of bathing in an actual bathtub, but have to make do with a showerhead, Romeo told us he and his younger brother once tried to “spring clean” the living room and filled it with water. “We treated the place like a water theme park and slid from one end to the other!” he laughed. While his brother got away scot-free due to his young age, Romeo was unfortunately punished for his disastrous creation.

The middle child at home with a younger and older brother who are each five years apart from him, the actor also recalled breaking “countless” of glass ornaments at home and at one point underwent seven to eight tutor-changes because he didn’t like to study!

Desmond Tan
Desmond Tan
12 Oct 2015

Desmond Tan

Proof that Desmond has been a good looker from day one, whether as a chubby toddler or a cheeky-looking schoolboy.

Related: The truth behind Desmond Tan’s failures and “friend zone” story

Darryl Yong
Darryl Yong
12 Oct 2015

Darryl Yong

Tanglin’s resident hot barista used to be a plump kid growing up and attributed his rotund figure to his love for eating  – especially Happy Meals, he tells us, which he ate once a week on Sundays. On top of that, his usual dietary intake in Primary School included having laksa, two to three pieces of bread and/or Hokkien Mee for breakfast. And if that doesn’t amaze (or shock) you, Darryl shared that he was the self-anointed “rubbish bin” at home and would take it upon himself to finish up all the food as his grandmother did not like the sight of leftovers on the dining table.

No wonder he piled on pounds during his childhood years!

Catch Darryl in Tanglin, weeknights, 8.30 pm on Channel 5. 
Watch Tanglin on Toggle-It-First. 

Priscelia Chan
Priscelia Chan
12 Oct 2015

Priscelia Chan

When not immersed in her little world, Priscelia was an outspoken kid who loved performing, dancing, painting and reading. The actress had a strict upbringing from her protective mum who once forbade her from attending the school’s annual campfire event which left a young Priscelia with no choice but to watch the school events unfold from the window at home. 

Chua Enlai
Chua Enlai
12 Oct 2015

Chua Enlai

Is it just us, or has Enlai’s face not changed a bit since his first birthday (as shown here)? “It’s a cake of a horse because I’m born in the Year of the Horse,” he explained.

Fast forward six years, and here we have tiny schoolboy Enlai in Hamilton, New Zealand, going to what he called his “Harry Potter school”. “The bag looks bigger than me!” he observed.

Related: A take 5 with Chua Enlai and Yasminne Cheng

Ya Hui
Ya Hui
12 Oct 2015

Ya Hui

Ya Hui is the youngest child at home and has two elder brothers who are both older than her by more than a decade. As the baby of the family, the actress said that her parents would discipline her siblings if they bullied her at home – but then came the downside of their large age gaps: “I had to play by myself when my brothers were in school and took on multiple roles in my own games!” Awww…

The actress also shared a list of “unbelievable” things committed when she was young: Skipping school by pretending to be ill, playing with matchsticks and paper, and prank-calling the police - all of which resulted in the punishment of kneeling before the altar to “repent” for her mistakes.

Bobby Tonelli
Bobby Tonelli
12 Oct 2015

Bobby Tonelli

“Baseball was my life as a kid,” said Bobby, pictured above at 10 years old. “My dad gave me a bat and a ball when I was four years old and I didn’t stop playing until the age of 21. It was tough to juggle school and sports but it taught me a lot about discipline, constantly trying to better your skills, and teamwork.”

Irene Ang
Irene Ang
12 Oct 2015

Irene Ang

Awww, check out two-year-old Irene with her older brother all dressed up for some splashing good fun. “As a child, I’ve always loved water and the sun,” said the FLY Entertainment head honcho.

Jade Seah
Jade Seah
12 Oct 2015

Jade Seah

“Trying to be cool, even at 6. #fail more than 20 years later, still trying. Still failing.” (Awww, no need to be so modest, Jade. You were and are still really cool.)

She had something much nicer to say about her one-year-old self: “They said a high forehead is a sign of intelligence. More than 20 years later, I have to agree…”

(Photo of present-day Jade from Jade's Instagram)

Ian Fang
Ian Fang
12 Oct 2015

Ian Fang

Known to have a tight relationship with his mother, Ian remembered going on his first overseas trip with her to Fujian, China, after she completed an overseas performance in Singapore. In the other picture where he is seen holding the telephone, Ian shared that he was on the phone with his mum, who was working abroad, at that time. “She used to be a singer and held small gigs in Indonesia and Singapore. My parents got to know one another through their occupations, and my dad was a dancer,” he added.

So that’s where he got his performing genes from!

Cheryl Wee
Cheryl Wee
12 Oct 2015

Cheryl Wee

Don’t be fooled by this “guai guai” (obedient) looking little lady.

“I was a pretty naughty kid. Whatever my parents said not to do, I did the exact opposite. Once I saw my dad shaving and he told me to never touch the shaver, but when he went out, I shaved my chin and the shaver got stuck!!! It kinda ripped a chunk off my chin.” (Ouch. It pays to listen to your parents.)


Jeffrey Xu
Jeffrey Xu
12 Oct 2015

Jeffrey Xu

A carbon copy of his father during his childhood days, baby-faced Jeffrey shared that their neighbours nicknamed them as ‘Da Long (big dragon)’ and ‘Xiao Long (small dragon)’ as they both had the same zodiac sign. The nickname-calling act stopped when Jeffrey started to take after his mother after he grew up. Phew.

PS: Check out Jeffrey’s saloon shot-picture (bottom left). Boy are we glad that saloon photoshoots aren’t common practice in Singapore, unlike in China!

Nat Ho
Nat Ho
12 Oct 2015

Nat Ho

“This was my cousin and I (I think I was about five or six years old here). I was a pretty popular page boy. I think I did at least three or four weddings.”

We’re not surprised at your popularity, Nat – look at that precious pageboy!

Related: Nat Ho returns to Singapore after successful career reboot in Taiwan

Catch Nat in long-form drama Tanglin on weeknights, 8.30pm on Channel 5. Subscribers can also catch upcoming episodes in advance on Toggle-It-First.


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