• U.S.

People: Mar. 11, 1985

2 minute read
Janice Castro

For his riveting performance as Dith Pran, the Cambodian journalist in The Killing Fields, Haing S. Ngor, 35, earned an Academy Award nomination, but his newfound fame brought a far better reward: a completely unexpected reunion with his only remaining family. Ngor is a Cambodian physician whose own saga of surviving the brutal Khmer Rouge regime closely paralleled the story he enacts in the movie. By the time Ngor escaped from Cambodia in 1979, after four years of torture and forced labor, his entire family, as well as his fiancee, had been murdered by the Communists. Or so he thought, until he was promoting the movie in Europe and received a message from Dom Ponn Many, a niece he had last seen in Phnom-Penh ten years ago. Now living in France with her husband and four children, she had read an article about the film and recognized her uncle. At an emotional airport meeting in Cannes, Ngor saw her children for the first time and invited the whole family to accompany him to the Oscar ceremonies later this month. “C’est magnifique,” he murmured. “I can’t believe that today we are here together. I found all of my family that is left. I can’t speak anymore. I am happy.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com