Zhang Zhizhi (章志直), born in Changzhou, Jiangsu in 1901, came to motion pictures from a stage background. After several years of acting experience, he entered motion pictures in 1926 with the Tianyi studio, and had his first leading role in 1926's "Movie Actress." His film career ranged from 1926-1965, and although a leading man early on, he soon became typecast as a heavy. Unlike fellow movie bad guys Wang Xianzhai and Sun Min, whose characters were usually more subtle in their evildoing, Zhang, a large man with a menacing mien, was typically cast as a thug, a strongarm mob enforcer, etc., as well as such negative Chinese stereotypes as tyrannical landlords, warlords, etc.
Many of his more than 180 movie roles were in the best films of China's classic era, including: "Movie Actress" (1926); "The Flirting Scholar" (1927); "Southern Heroine" (1930) (as Qian Siying's foe); "Goddess" (1934) (as the petty gangster who gains control over Ruan Lingyu); "The Big Road" (1934) (as the traitorous landlord); "Go to Nature" (1936); "Song of a Loving Mother" (1937); "Sunrise" (1938), "Mulan Joins the Army" (1939), "The Fisherman's Daughter" (1943); "Spring Dream in Paradise" (1947); "Homecoming Diary" (1947); "Long Live the Missus" (1947), and "Stage Sisters" (1965).
For someone who was so familiar a screen presence for so many years, little is written about Zhang Zhizhi. He died October 29, 1970, during the Cultural Revolution era, as did so many others from the Shanghai film community. His last movie role was in Xie Jin's "Stage Sisters" (1965), ironically also the last film for 1940s-50s star Shangguan Yunzhu, who was driven to suicide during that cruel and chaotic decade, but it is not recorded whether Zhang was also a victim of the Cultural Revolution or if his death just coincided with it.