Nicknamed in the film industry as ''Mr. Emperor'', Chao Lei was born to parents who were originally from the Hebei Province. Growing up Beijing, Chao moved to Hong Kong at the age of 19. In 1953, he started to work for Shaw Brothers. In most of his ensuing films, he was always cast as the emperor character like ''The Kingdom and the Beauty''. After his contract ran out at Shaw Brothers in 1963, Chao went to Taiwan and starred in ''Hsi Shih Beauty of Beauties'' and won the Best Actor Award in the Golden Horse Awards. Also, in 1962, he and his actress wife Shi Ying created their own film production company. In 1980, Chao left the film industry gradually. From the Celestial DVD release of ''Diau Charn''.