January 20, 2022

Roekiah (EYD Rukiah; [ruˈkiah]) (31 December 1917 – 2 September 1945) often written as Miss Roekiah, was an Indonesian kroncong actress and singer. The daughter of a showman couple, she started her career at the age of seven; in 1932 he became famous in Batavia, Dutch East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia), as a singer and showman. During this time, he met Kartolo, whom he married in 1934. The couple starred in the 1937 film Terang Boelan. In the film, Roekiah and Rd Mochtar played a couple. After the film was a commercial success, Roekiah, Kartolo, and most of the cast and crew of Terang Boelan were signed by Tan's Film, and first appeared in the company's film Fatima in 1938. Roekiah and Mochtar again acted in two films before Mochtar left Tan's Film in 1940; through these films, Roekiah and Mochtar became the first big screen couple in the Dutch East Indies. Mochtar's successor, Rd Djoemala, co-starred with Roekiah in four films, although those films were not very successful. After the Japanese occupied Indonesia in 1942, Roekiah only appeared in one film before his death; most of his time he spent entertaining the Japanese soldiers. During her lifetime, Roekiah was a fashion and beauty icon, her appearances in advertisements and paintings often being compared to those of Dorothy Lamour and Janet Gaynor. Although most of the films he has starred in are now lost, he is still said to be a pioneer in cinema, and a 1969 article stated that "in his [Roekiah] time he had attained a hitherto unparalleled popularity". Of his five children with Kartolo, one of them – Rachmat Kartolo – is also in the world of acting.

Early life

Roekiah was born in Bandung, West Java, Dutch East Indies, in 1917, the daughter of Muhammad Ali and Ningsih, a playwright in the Opera Poesi Indra Bangsawan troupe; Ali is from Belitung, while Ningsih is of Sundanese blood and comes from Cianjur. Apart from studying acting from his parents, Roekiah also learned handicrafts with the other members of the group. Roekiah and his parents were constantly traveling, so Roekiah did not have time for formal education. In the mid-1920s, they joined another play troupe called Opera Rochani. Despite opposition from his family, Roekiah insisted on participating in the play, and asked his mother for permission to appear on stage. Ningsih agreed, on the condition that she was only allowed to appear once. When he was seven years old, Roekiah appeared on stage for the first time, Muhammad Ali – who did not know the agreement between his wife and daughter – rushed on stage and told Roekiah to stop singing. As a result, Roekiah refused to eat until his parents finally relented. After that, Roekiah performed regularly with theatrical troupe. In 1932, when he joined the Palestine Opera in Batavia (now Jakarta), Roekiah managed to become a famous theater actress and keroncong singer. She is admired not only for her voice, but also for her beauty. While with Palestine Opera, she met her future husband, Kartolo; an actor, pianist, and songwriter in the troupe. They both married when Roekiah was seventeen. The new couple took a month's leave and then joined the Faroka group to tour Singapore, returning to the Dutch East Indies in 1936.

Film career

Partnership with Rd Mochtar

In 1937, Roekiah played a film for the first time by playing the lead actress in Albert Balink's film Terang Boelan. He and his co-star, Rd Mochtar,

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