Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940, meaning the martial arts legend would have turned 77-years-old in 2017. Born Lee Jun-Fan in San Francisco, California’s Chinatown district, he moved to Hong Kong with his parents when he was just three-months-old. It was in Hong Kong that Lee would train under Yip Man and become an expert in Wing Chun. Bruce Lee was Chinese and Euroasian. Due to his mixed heritage, some people in China didn’t want to train with him. Before long; however, Lee showed that his skills were unmatched. In 1959, Bruce Lee left Hong Kong and moved to America. He was 18-years-old and returned to San Francisco, where he stayed with his sister.
By 1961, Lee moved to Seattle and was attending the University of Washington where he majored in drama. In 1964 he married Linda Emery. The couple would have two children: Brandon Lee and Shannon Lee.
As Bruce Lee’s father, Lee Hoi-Chuen, was a famous Cantonese opera singer, Bruce Lee had appeared in movies alongside his father. Before he moved to the United States, Lee had appeared in 20 movies. After receiving drama training, Lee turned his attention back to acting.
Bruce Lee began his U.S. acting career in 1966 after being invited to audition for a part in the series Number One Son.
The series failed to reach development and instead Bruce Lee landed the role of Kato in The Green Hornet. The character crossed over to three episodes of the Batman series, giving Bruce Lee enough recognition to officially launch what would become a successful film and television career.
— HISTORY TV18 (@HISTORYTV18) November 27, 2017
— Solomon Weyi (@SolomonWeyi) November 27, 2017
In 1966, Bruce Lee appeared on The Milton Berle Show, Batman, and The Green Hornet. In 1967, Bruce Lee appeared in Ironside and appeared the following year in the movie The Wrecking Crew. In 1969, Bruce Lee would appear in Blondie, Here Comes the Bride, and Marlowe. The next year, Bruce Lee appeared in the series Enjoy Yourself Tonight and I Love 1970s.
Though Bruce was working as an actor in Hollywood, it wasn’t until he agreed to film some movies in Hong Kong that he saw his star rise. Unbeknownst to Lee, The Green Hornet was playing in Hong Kong and across Asia and had catapulted him to star status.
Lee entered negotiations and would film the movie The Big Boss in 1971. The movie made Bruce Lee an international star. In 1972 he filmed The Way of the Dragon and in 1973 Enter the Dragon.
Bruce Lee died on July 20, 1973, with the official cause of death listed as death by misadventure. It is believed he had an allergic reaction to medication he had taken.
Do you have a favorite Bruce Lee movie or television performance?