9. Jiang Qing She was the third wife of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong and the most influential woman in the People's Republic of China until her downfall in 1976, after Mao's death. As a member of the Gang of Four she was convicted in 1981 of “counter-revolutionary crimes” and imprisoned. Reared by her grandfather, Jiang became a member of a theatrical troupe in 1929. Her activity in a communist-front organization in 1933 led to her arrest and imprisonment. Upon her release she went to Shanghai, where she played minor roles for the left-wing Tien Tung Motion Pictures Company. When the Japanese attacked Shanghai in 1937, Jiang fled to the Chinese Nationalist wartime capital at Chungking, where she worked for the government-controlled Central Movie Studio until she crossed the Nationalist lines to join the Communist forces in Yen-an. As a drama instructor at the Lu Hsün Art Academy, she met Mao for the first time when he gave a talk at the school. They were married in 1939 (technically, she was Mao's fourth wife; he had an arranged
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