Manee Sumonnaj (The Shining Star)

Manee Sumonnaj was born Chaweewan Dokmai-ngam in Paknampho, Nakhon Sawan on November 27, 1915, the daughter of a Na Pha's timber merchant.Films played a vital role in her life during her childhood which shealways accompanied her mother, a keen moviegoer, to the cinema.

Inspired by this experience, Chaweewan dreamed to stand in thelimelight. Her dream was not fulfilled until 1934 when she met Luang Phrottakamkosol (Mongkhol Sumonnaj), an itinerant cinema organizer who showed and starred in Pu Some Fao Sap, in Paknampho. Attracted by her grace and beauty, Luang Phrottakamkosol introduced her to Manit Wasuwat, a producer from Siang Sri Krung Films Co., Ltd. Shortly there after, her name was changed into Manee Sumonnaj.

In 1935 her film debut, Phaya Noi Chom Talad, produced by Siang Sri Krung Films Co., Ltd., brought her considerable critical acclaim. Consequently,the company decided to give her a leading role in Mueng Mae Mai without hesitation.

As a beautiful queen in a town of widows, Manee received greater success,partly because the production practices followed those of Hollywood studios.She became the first actress who was privileged to sit on a chair of her own, just like the producer and the director. This reflected her acclaim as the first superstar of Siam.

Her fame was enhanced when she first co-starred with Chamraj Suwakhon, a former famous supporting actor from Lued Chaona, in a comedy entitled Klua Mia in 1936. The film was a great success in box-office terms, making Chamraj a new popular leading actor.As partners they became the most popular couple of Thai film history.Their next film was Phleng Wan Jai, the most expensive movie ever made by Siang Sri Krung Films Co., Ltd.After over-six-months in production, the film was released in October, 1937 and became another success.

In stead of pursuing her successful career, Manee Sumonnaj chose to be starred with Chamraj Suwakhon once again in her last film, Lok Mia, in 1938; and spend a happy married life with Sa-nga Samkosate. She has never returned to film ever since. And on June 23, 1990 she died peacefully at the age of 74.


  • Phaya Noi Chom Talad (1935)
  • Maung Mae Mai (1935)
  • Klua Mear (1936)
  • Pleng Wanjai (His Sweet Melody 1937)
  • The Husband Misbehaves (1938) Translated by Kritiya Natee

    Edited by Robert Himes

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