At age 19, during his summer vacation, he followed his third elder brother Run Me Shaw to Singapore to start a film market and establish Shaw Organisation. Following that, he developed a deep interest in the movie business. He and his brother founded the South Seas Film studio in 1930, which later became Shaw Studios. In 1967, he launched TVB (Television Broadcasts Ltd.) in Hong Kong, growing it into a multi-billion dollar TV empire ranking today as one of the top 5 television producers in the world.
His wife died at age 85 in 1987.
In 2000, through his company, Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) Limited, he sold his unique library of 760 classic titles to Celestial Pictures Limited. His name is credited even in western movies which he has backed, such as in Blade Runner under the The Ladd Company logo.
Continuing to show perseverance, Shaw Studios entered a new era with Run Run Shaw's majority investment (through his various holding companies) in the US$180 million Hong Kong Movie City project, a studio and production facility. The facility features one of the largest, fully air-conditioned and sound and vibration-insulated soundstages in Asia, a full-service color lab and digital imaging facility, over 20 sound and editing suites, a 400-seat dubbing and screening theatre, executive and production office space, banqueting facilities, and visual effects and animation capabilities. This facility serves as the center-piece of Shaw Studios and indeed the whole Chinese film industry as a whole moving forward.
Sir Run Run Shaw holds significant other business interests around the world. His construction of the 23-story Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada is just one example of his real estate interests.
Over the years, he has donated billions of dollars to charity, schools and hospitals. His name is on many buildings in Hong Kong and China mainland due to his generous donations. The fourth constituent college of the collegiate Chinese University of Hong Kong is also named after Sir Run Run, whose patronage made the establishment of the college possible.
He donated $100 million Hong Kong Dollars for disaster relief after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.
Shaw's daughter, Violet, lives in Hawaii and is married to Former Morgan Stanley Executive Director Paul Loo.