Rima Melati

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Rima Melati
Rima Melati, c. 1960.jpg
Rima Melati in c. 1960
Born Marjolien Tambayong
(1939-08-22) 22 August 1939 (age 78)
Tondano, Sulawesi, Dutch East Indies
Nationality Indonesian
Occupation Actress, singer, director
Spouse(s) Frans Tumbuan (1973–2015, his death)

Marjolein Tambayong, better known by her stage name Rima Melati (born 22 August 1939), is an Indonesian actress and singer. Born in Tondano, Sulawesi, by the 1950s she had moved to Jakarta and become a model, after joining the girl group The Baby Dolls and taking a minor acting role, in 1961 Melati starred in her first film, Kasih Tak Sampai (Unrealized Love, 1961). Since then she has appeared in almost a hundred feature films, including works by Wim Umboh, Sjumandjaja, and Teguh Karya. For this oeuvre she has received multiple awards, including a PWI Award for Best Actress for Noda Tak Berampun (Unforgivable Smear), a Citra Award for Best Leading Actress for Intan Berduri (A Thorned Gem, 1972), and five nominations for the Citra Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Melati has also worked as a fashion designer and, together with her husband Frans Tumbuan, restaurateur, since surviving breast cancer in the 1990s, Melati has campaigned for breast cancer awareness.


Marjolein Tambayong was born in Tondano, Sulawesi, Dutch East Indies, on 22 August 1939. Though her father, Marinus Van Rest, was Dutch, she took the family name of her step-father, Tambayong, she moved to Jakarta and became a model, using the diminutive form of her name, Lientje. In the late 1950s she became a member of the girl group The Baby Dolls; this group also included Indriati Iskak, Gaby Mambo (id), and Baby Huwae.[1] In 1958 Tambayong made her feature film debut with a minor role in Djuara Sepatu Roda (Roller-Skating Champion), a film which starred Indriati Iskak.[1]

Tambayong took the stage name Rima Melati around 1960. Several sources, including the Encyclopedia of Jakarta, write that this occurred following the stillbirth of a child she had wanted to name Rima after Audrey Hepburn's character in Green Mansions; when she broached the subject with President Soekarno, he recommended that she take the name for herself, as her birth name was "too western" ("terlalu kebarat-baratan").[2][3][4] In an interview with The Jakarta Globe, however, Tambayong stated that she had received the name when she had gone to the presidential palace to get petrol, she was called to speak with President Soekarno, and he said that her name was too western. Tambayong then combined the name of Hepburn's character with Melati ("jasmine"), the name of a friend's daughter.[5]

Rima Melati took her first leading role in Kasih Tak Sampai (Unrealized Love) in 1961,[1] over the following two years she acted in ten further films, including Djantung Hati (Heart and Soul, 1961), Violetta (1962), and Kartika Aju (The Beautiful Kartika, 1963).[6] She also made several appearances on the newly established State television network, TVRI,[2] after finishing Kunanti Jawabmu (I Await Your Answer, 1963), Melati took a hiatus from acting;[1] the Encyclopedia of Jakarta attributes this to her having remarried.[2]

Melati returned to the silver screen in 1969, after marrying Ir. Herwindo, with a role in Wim Umboh's Laki-Laki Tak Bernama (Man Without a Name).[2] Over the next twenty years she appeared in more than seventy films, including Teguh Karya's directorial debut Wadjah Seorang Laki-Laki (Ballad of a Man, 1971), Sjumandjaja's directorial debut Lewat Tengah Malam (After Midnight, 1971), and the Indonesia–Netherlands collaboration Max Havelaar (1975).[1] She received multiple awards and nominations during this period, including a Citra Award for Best Leading Actress at the 1973 Indonesian Film Festival for Intan Berduri (A Thorned Gem, 1972).[7]

Melati married Frans Tumbuan, whom she met during a trip to the Netherlands, in 1973.[8] Tumbuan, a restaurateur who was living in the Netherlands at the time, moved to Jakarta, and the couple opened several restaurants, including La Bistro, La Bodega, and Jaya Pub;[2] this last one, established in 1975, is Jakarta's oldest bar and has been described as "iconic".[9] Tumbuan also began acting, making his feature film debut in Bung Kecil (Little Man); this film began production in 1978, but was only released in 1983 owing to difficulties with the censorship bureau.[10] Melati and Tumbuan remained together until the latter's death in 2015.[8]

In 1989, shortly after shooting Sesaat dalam Pelukan (A Moment's Embrace),[1] Melati was diagnosed with Stage 3B breast cancer, she underwent treatment for a year in the half, travelling to the Netherlands as Indonesian surgeons were unable to perform a partial mastectomy.[5] She did not return to cinema until 1994, when she appeared in Sesal (Regret). Directed by her friend Sophan Sophiaan,[1] this film starred Sophiaan as a writer who was unable to accompany his wife, played by Widyawati, on her deathbed.[11] In 1997 Melati directed the television serial Api Cinta Antonio Blanco (The Flame of Antonio Blanco's Love, 1997), based on the life of Antonio Blanco, a Spanish-American painter who settled in Bali.[1]

Melati has made several films after the turn of the millennium, including Banyu Biru (Blue Water, 2004) and Ungu Violet (Purple Violet, 2005). As of 2016, her most recent feature film is Ayah, Mengapa Aku Berbeda? (Father, Why Am I Different?, 2011).[6] In a 2012 interview, she stated that she had no intention of returning to film or television,[5] she has continued as a fashion designer,[3] and has campaigned for breast cancer awareness through the Jakarta Foundation of Breast Health.[5]


Melati won Best Actress at the 1971 PWI Awards, held by the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Journalists Association, for her role as Marina in Noda Tak Berampun (Unforgivable Smear); she received three further nominations in that category, in 1972, 1973, and 1974, but did not win again. At the 1973 Indonesian Film Festival, Melati won a Citra Award for Best Leading Actress for her portrayal of Saleha in Intan Berduri. In the late 1980s she was nominated for five Citra Awards for Best Supporting Actress, but did not receive any.[6][7]

Year Award Category Film Result
1971 PWI Best Actress Noda Tak Berampun Won
1972 PWI Best Actress Wadjah Seorang Laki-Laki 1st runner-up
1973 PWI Best Actress Salah Asuhan 1st runner-up
Indonesian Film Festival Best Leading Actress Intan Berduri Won
1974 PWI Best Actress Takdir 3rd runner-up
1984 Indonesian Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Kupu-kupu Putih Nominated
1985 Indonesian Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Tinggal Landas Buat Kekasih Nominated
1986 Indonesian Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Pondok Cinta Nominated
1987 Indonesian Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Biarkan Bulan Itu Nominated
1989 Indonesian Film Festival Best Supporting Actress Arini II (Biarkan Kereta Api Itu Lewat) Nominated


In her career, which has spanned more than five decades, Melati has appeared in almost a hundred films,[6] she also directed Api Cinta Antonio Blanco (1997), which was released in cinemas as two separate films: Blanco, the Colour of Love (1997) and Bali Forever (2007).[1]


Works cited[edit]