Bruce Lee's Funeral
Bruce Lee's Death
A foreshadowing of events to come occurred on May 10, 1973, when 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 Hong Kong Baptist 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 repeated 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, a Taiwanese actress. The three went over the script at Ting's home, and then Chow left to attend a dinner meeting.
A short time later, Lee complained of a headache, and Ting gave him an analgesic, 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. 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 Lee's death officially, it was ruled a "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. Another doctor, Peter Wu's preliminary opinion was that the cause of death could have been a reaction to cannabis and Equagesic. Dr. Wu would later back off from this position however:
"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 a subject of controversy.
His wife Linda returned to her home town of Seattle, and had him buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery. 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.
His iconic status and untimely demise fed many theories about his death, including murder involving the Triad society and a supposed curse on him and his family.
The curse theory was extended to his 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. It was released after his death and gained cult status, as his father's last film had been, and did. Brandon Lee was buried beside his father.