Actress Umi Kalthum, 81, dies

KUALA LUMPUR - Veteran Malaysian actress Umi Kalthum, who is singer Anita Sarawak's stepmother, died in her sleep on Wednesday. She was 81.

"She was already lifeless when family members tried to wake her up for the Ramadan pre-dawn meal this morning," daughter Noor Kumalasari told Utusan Malaysia on Wednesday.

Her death shocked family members and friends because she is not known to have any chronic illness.

"She never liked to burden people, including her own children. At her age, she still drove around by herself," MsNoor Kumalasari told Malaysia's Berita Harian.

Born in Negeri Sembilan, Umi was known for her evil stepsister role in the 1959 Malay classic film Bawang Putih Bawang Merah.

Anita, who lives in the United States, could not return for the funeral on Wednesday.

"Anita has been informed about the news. She could not return in time. But she accepts my mother's death," Ms Noor Kumalasari told Berita Harian.

"I know she is also sad over the news. But we have to accept and be grateful that my mother died in the holy month of Ramadan."

She left behind eight children, 22 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Her second husband was the late veteran actor S. Roomai Noor, Anita's father.

She was an actress with the Cathay Keris studio in Singapore from early 1950s until 1972.

Throughout her career, she acted in more than 20 films, including Menanti Hari Esok (1977), Esok Untuk Siapa (1982) and Abang (1981). She was buried at the Klang Gate Muslim Cemetery here on Wednesday.

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