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Bruce Lee Biography


   

Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973) was an American-born martial artist, philosopher, instructor, martial arts actor and the founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts system, widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of the 20th century and a cultural icon.
   

Lee was born in San Francisco, CA and raised in Hong Kong. His Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked the first major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world as well. Lee became an iconic figure particularly to the Chinese, as he portrayed Chinese national pride and Chinese nationalism in his movies. Many see Lee as a model blueprint for acquiring a strong and efficient body and the highest possible level of physical fitness, as well as developing a mastery of martial arts and hand to hand combat skills.
 

  

Bruce Lee's Movie and Television Career


Lee had his first role as a baby who was carried onto the stage. By the time he was 18, he had appeared in twenty films.


While in the United States from 1958-1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favor of pursuing martial arts. However, after Lee's high-profile martial arts demonstration at the 1964 Long Beach Karate Tournament, he was seen by some of the nation's most proficient martial artists--as well as the hairdresser of Batman producer William Dozier. Dozier soon invited Lee for an audition, where Lee so impressed the producers with his lightning-fast moves that he earned the role of Kato alongside Van Williams in the TV series The Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee would also play Kato in three episodes of the series Batman, produced by the same company as The Green Hornet. This was followed by guest appearances in a host of television series, including Ironside (1967) and Here Come the Brides (1969).


In 1969, Lee made his first major film appearance in Marlowe. In the film, Lee's henchman character is hired to intimidate private detective Philip Marlowe (played by James Garner) by smashing up his office with leaping kicks and flashing punches, only to later accidentally jump off a tall building while trying to kick Marlowe off. In 1971, Lee appeared in four episodes of the television series Longstreet as the martial arts instructor of the title character Mike Longstreet (played by James Franciscus). Bruce would later pitch a television series of his own tentatively titled The Warrior. Allegedly, Lee's concept was retooled and renamed Kung Fu, but if so, Warner Bros. gave Lee no credit. The role of the Shaolin monk in the Wild West, known to have been coveted by Bruce, was awarded to non-martial artist David Carradine, purportedly because of the studio's belief that a Chinese leading man would not be embraced by the American public.


Not happy with his supporting roles in the U.S., Lee returned to Hong Kong and was offered a film contract by legendary director Raymond Chow and his production company Golden Harvest. Lee played his first leading role in The Big Boss (1971) which proved an enormous box office success across Asia and catapulted him to stardom. He soon followed up his success with two more huge box office successes: Fist of Fury (1972) and Way of the Dragon (1972). For Way of the Dragon, he took complete control of the film's production as the writer, director, star, and choreographer of the fight scenes. In 1964, at a demonstration in Long Beach, California, Lee had met karate champion Chuck Norris. In Way of the Dragon Lee introduced Norris to moviegoers as his opponent in the final death fight at the Colosseum in Rome, today considered one of Lee's most legendary fight scenes.


In 1973, Lee played the lead role in Enter the Dragon (1973), his first film to be produced jointly by Golden Harvest and Warner Bros. This film would skyrocket Lee to fame in the U.S. and Europe. However, only a few months after the film's completion and three weeks before its release, the supremely fit Lee mysteriously died. Enter the Dragon would go on to become one of the year's highest grossing films and cemented Lee as a martial arts legend. It was made for US$850,000 in 1973. To date, Enter the Dragon has grossed over $200 million worldwide. The movie sparked a brief fad in the martial-arts epitomized in songs like "Kung Fu Fighting" and TV shows like Kung Fu.


Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon, attempted to finish Lee's incomplete film Game of Death which Lee was to also write and direct. Lee had shot over forty minutes of footage for Game of Death before shooting was stopped to allow him to work on Enter the Dragon. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a student of Bruce Lee, also appeared in the film, which culminates in Lee's character, Billy Lo (clad in the now-famous yellow track suit) taking on the 7'2" basketball player in a climactic fight scene. In a controversial move, Robert Clouse finished the film using a Bruce Lee look-alike and archive footage of Lee from his other films and released it in 1978 with a new storyline and cast. However, the cobbled-together film contained only 15 minutes of actual footage of Lee while the rest had a Lee lookalike, Tai Chung Kim, and Yuen Biao as stunt doubles. The unused footage Lee had filmed was recovered 22 years later and included in the Bruce Lee documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey.

 

Bruce Lee's Parents

 

Lee's father, Lee Hoi-chuen, was one of the leading Cantonese opera and film actors at the time, and was embarking on a year-long Cantonese opera tour with his family on the eve of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. Lee Hoi-chuen had been touring the United States for many years and performing at numerous Chinese communities there.

Although a number of his peers decided to stay in the United States, Lee Hoi-chuen decided to go back to Hong Kong after his wife gave birth to Bruce Lee. Within months, Hong Kong was invaded and the Lees lived for three years and eight months under Japanese occupation. After the war ended, Lee Hoi-chuen resumed his acting career and became a more popular actor during Hong Kong's rebuilding years.

Lee's mother, Grace Ho, was from one of the wealthiest and most powerful clans in Hong Kong, the Ho-tungs. She was the niece of Sir Robert Ho-tung,[citation needed] patriarch of the clan. As such, the young Bruce Lee grew up in an affluent and privileged environment. Despite this advantage of his family's status and because of the mass number of people fleeing communist China to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong neighborhood Lee grew up in became over-crowded, dangerous, and full of gang rivalries.

After being involved in several street fights, Lee's parents decided that he needed to be trained in the martial arts. Lee's first introduction to martial arts was through his father. He learned the fundamentals of Wu style tai chi chuan from his father.

Bruce Lee's Education and family


At age 12, Lee entered La Salle College and later he attended St. Francis Xavier's College. In 1959, at the age of 18, Lee got into a fight and badly beat his opponent, getting into trouble with the police. His father became concerned about young Bruce's safety, and as a result, he and his wife decided to send Bruce to the United States to live with an old friend of his father's. Lee left with $100 in his pocket and the titles of 1958 Boxing Champion and the Crown Colony Cha Cha Champion of Hong Kong. After living in San Francisco, he moved to Seattle to work for Ruby Chow, another friend of his father's. In 1959, Lee completed his high school education in Seattle and received his diploma from Edison Technical School. He enrolled at the University of Washington as a drama major and took some philosophy classes. It was at the University of Washington that he met his future wife Linda Emery, whom he would marry in 1964.
  

He had two children with Linda, Brandon Lee (1965-1993) and Shannon Lee (1969-). Brandon, who also became an actor like his father, died in an accident during the filming of The Crow in 1993. 
 
Bruce Lee's Death

 

Bruce Lee head stone in Lake View Cemetery, Seattle U.S.AA foreshadowing of events to come occurred on May 10th, 1973 when Bruce Lee collapsed in Golden Harvest studios while doing dubbing work for Enter the Dragon. Suffering from full-body seizures and cerebral edema, he was immediately rushed to the hospital where doctors were able to reduce the swelling through the administration of Mannitol and revive him. These same symptoms that occurred in his first collapse were later recapitulated on the day of his death.


On July 20, 1973, Lee was in Hong Kong, due to have dinner with former James Bond star George Lazenby, with whom he intended to make a film. According to Lee's wife Linda, Lee met producer Raymond Chow at 2 p.m. at home to discuss the making of the movie Game of Death. They worked until 4 p.m. and then drove together to the home of Lee's colleague Betty Ting Pei, a Taiwanese actress. The three went over the script at Pei's home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.


A short time later, Lee complained of a headache, and Ting Pei gave him a now-banned powerful analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and a muscle relaxant. Around 7:30 p.m., he went to lie down for a nap. After Lee did not turn up for dinner, Chow came to the apartment but could not wake Lee up. A doctor was summoned, who spent ten minutes attempting to revive him before sending him by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. However, Lee was dead by the time he reached the hospital. There was no visible external injury; however, his brain had swollen considerably, from 1,400 to 1,575 grams (a 13% increase). Lee was 32 years old. The only two substances found during the autopsy were Equagesic and trace amounts of cannabis. On October 15, 2005, Chow stated in an interview that Lee died from a hypersensitivity to the muscle relaxant in Equagesic, which he described as a common ingredient in painkillers. When the doctors announced Bruce Lee's death officially, it was ruled as "Death by Misadventure."


Dr. Langford who treated Lee for his first collapse stated after his death that, "There's not a question in my mind that cannabis should have been named as the presumptive cause of death." He also believed that, "Equagesic was not at all involved in Bruce's first collapse." Professor R.D. Teare, who had overseen over 100,000 autopsies, was the top expert assigned to the Lee case. Dr. Teare declared that the presence of cannabis was mere coincidence, and added that it would be "irresponsible and irrational" to say that it might have triggered Lee's death. His conclusion was that the death was caused by an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the prescription pain killing drug Equagesic.


"Professor Teare was a forensic scientist recommended by Scotland Yard; he was brought in as an expert on cannabis and we can't contradict his testimony. The dosage of cannabis is neither precise nor predictable, but I've never known of anyone dying simply from taking it."


The exact details of Lee's death are controversial. Bruce Lee's iconic status and unusual death at a young age led many people to develop many theories about his death. Such theories about his death included murder involving the Triad society and a supposed curse on Lee and his family. The theory of the curse carried over to Lee's son Brandon Lee, also an actor, who died 20 years after his father in a bizarre accident while filming The Crow at the age of 28. Like his father's last film, released after his death to gain cult status, Brandon's last film The Crow was also released after his death, completed with the use of computer-generated imagery and a stunt double in the few remaining but critical scenes that Brandon had left unfilmed at his death.


Upon the death of her husband, Linda returned to her home town of Seattle and had Bruce buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery. His son Brandon was buried beside him. Pallbearers at his funeral on July 31, 1973 included Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Chuck Norris, George Lazenby, Dan Inosanto, Taky Kimura, Peter Chin, and his brother, Robert Lee.
 
The above information comes from Wikipedia.

 






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