How Bruce Lee's star rose in the US
ENTER THE DRAGON [US 1973] BRUCE LEE Date: 1973
July 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the death of Bruce Lee, who had one of the briefest and most remarkable careers in Hollywood history.
When he died in 1973, he didn't get star treatment because he wasn't yet a star, at least in the English-speaking world.
Lee had a career in Asia as a child actor, a dancer - he won Hong Kong's 1958 Cha-Cha Dance Championship with little brother Robert, a young star and then a martial-arts practitioner and innovator.
The rest of the world discovered him when Enter the Dragon opened in 1973, just one month after he died suddenly at age 32 of a brain aneurysm.
His charisma, good looks and dazzling moves ensured him a posthumous legacy as a star.
He was born Lee Jung-fan in San Francisco, where his father acted with the Cantonese Opera Company.
The family returned to Asia, and Lee began appearing in films at age 6. In 1960, he starred in The Orphan as an angry teenager, evoking comparisons with actor James Dean.
Lee returned to the US where he enrolled at the University of Washington and wrote a master's thesis that was later expanded into 1963 paperback Chinese Kung Fu: The Philosophical Art of Self-Defense.
He opened a martial arts school in Seattle, then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his Hollywood dreams.
Lee played sidekick Kato in the series The Green Hornet, which lasted 26 episodes starting in 1966.
Lee created Jeet Kune Do - a hybrid of East and West, incorporating movements from boxing, kung fu, fencing and other sources.
In Los Angeles, Lee picked up other jobs, and tutored stars like Steve McQueen and James Coburn in martial arts. But he grew frustrated at seeing Caucasian stars in "yellowface" get leading roles as Asians.
He returned to Hong Kong with wife Linda and their two children, where he and producer Raymond Chow formed Golden Harvest.
He made several hit films and then returned to Hollywood. He finally achieved his goal of becoming the first Asian global superstar, but did so posthumously.
In 1973, Lee's Enter the Dragon ranked at No. 20 among the Top 50 list by Variety magazine.
Bruce Lee had acting in his blood and was a fighter's fighter.— Bernie Briffa (@goonerbeau) July 20, 2018
Lee’s precise, powerful yet seemingly effortless grace & presence before the camera made him an international star.#BruceLee, died #OTD 1973, just days before his film “Enter the Dragon” had its premiere.He was 32. pic.twitter.com/S4yPaBXpBe
The following month, Variety ran a story about martial arts action films, which had ballooned in popularity after years of being limited to "ethnic houses in the Chinatowns of major American cities."
The story said that one reason was Lee, who died suddenly "before he could capitalise on his fame.
© RAW 2018