A native of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, Kao Yuen was born in 1933 as Jiang Jiaqi. Before he came to Hong Kong in 1953, he was a teacher in a secondary school. Referred by his aunt Ren Yizhi, he joined Feng Huang Motion Picture Company as an actor in 1953 and played a debut in Full House. Kao was also the first actor to have played in Hong Kong's first film that achieved box office revenue that exceeded HK$1 million, The Golden Eagle. This film earned him a reputation as "The Millionaire Leading Actor." He left Feng Huang in 1968 to play in films by various studios before retiring in the mid-1980s.