- NAME: Bruce Lee
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Martial Arts Expert
- BIRTH DATE: November 27, 1940
- DEATH DATE: July 20, 1973
- EDUCATION: University of Washington
- PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Hong Kong, China
- AKA: Li Jun Fan
- AKA: Bruce Jun Fan Lee
- AKA: Bruce Lee
- Full Name: Lee Jun Fan
- AKA: Jun Fan Lee
- AKA: Jun Fan Li
Best Known For
Bruce Lee was a revered martial artist, actor and filmmaker known for movies like Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon as well as the technique Jeet Kune Do.
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He went on to make guest appearances in such TV shows as Ironside and Longstreet, while a notable film role came in 1969's Marlowe, starring James Garner as the notable detective created by Raymond Chandler. (The screenwriter for the film, Stirling Silliphant, was one of Lee's martial arts students. Other Lee students included James Coburn,
Steve McQueen and Garner himself.)
Lee, who was devoted to a variety of workouts and physical training activities, suffered a major back injury that he gradually recovered from, taking time for self-care and writing. He also came up with the idea that became the basis for the Buddhist monk TV series Kung Fu; yet David Carradine would get the starring role initially slated for Lee due to execs believing that an Asian actor wouldn't pull in audiences as the lead. Confronted with a dearth of meaty roles and the prevalence of stereotypes regarding Asian performers, Lee left Los Angeles for Hong Kong in the summer of 1971.
Lee signed a two-film contract, eventually bringing his family over to Hong Kong as well. Fists of Fury was released in late 1971, featuring Lee as a vengeful fighter chasing the villains who had killed his kung-fu master. Combining his smooth Jeet Kune Do athleticism with the high-energy theatrics of his performance in The Green Hornet, Lee was the charismatic center of the film, which set new box office records in Hong Kong.
Those records were broken by Lee's next film, The Chinese Connection (1972), which, like Fists of Fury, received poor reviews from critics when they were released in the U.S.
By the end of 1972, Lee was a major movie star in Asia. He had co-founded with Raymond Chow his own company, Concord Productions, and had released his first directorial feature, Return of the Dragon. Though he had not yet gained stardom in America, he was poised on the brink with his first major Hollywood project, Enter the Dragon.
On July 20, 1973, just one month before the premiere of Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee died in Hong Kong, China, at the age of 32. The official cause of his sudden and utterly unexpected death was a brain edema, found in an autopsy to have been caused by a strange reaction to a prescription painkiller he was reportedly taking for a back injury. Controversy surrounded Lee's death from the beginning, as some claimed he had been murdered. There was also the belief that he might have been cursed, a conclusion driven by Lee's obsession with his own early death.
(More rumors of the so-called curse circulated in 1993, when Brandon Lee was killed under mysterious circumstances during the filming of The Crow. The 28-year-old actor was fatally shot with a gun that supposedly contained blanks but somehow had a live round lodged deep within its barrel.)
With the posthumous release of Enter the Dragon, Lee's status as a film icon was confirmed. The film, said to have a budget of $1 million, went on to gross more than $200 million.
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