Lee Jun-fan, professionally known as Bruce Lee, was a Chinese-American actor, director, martial artist, and philosopher born on November 27, 1940. Lee was best known as an M.M.A. pioneer, famous for his roles in films like “The Big Boss” (1971) and “Enter the Dragon” (1973), among several other films. He was a visionary and an icon whose career goes back to 1941. Join us to celebrate his special day today!
Lee Jun-fan, popularly known as Bruce Lee, was one of the greatest martial arts actors to have ever lived. He was a man who wore many hats, including that of a director, martial arts instructor, screenwriter, producer, director, and philosopher. Lee was a Sagittarius born on November 27, 1940, in San Francisco, California. He was of Cantonese and Eurasian descent, and his father was a Cantonese opera singer. Because of his father’s travels, Lee was exposed to the world of cinema and appeared in several films as a child. He attended Tak Sun School and Catholic La Salle College at age 12. Lee transferred to St. Francis Xavier’s College, where he was mentored by Brother Edward, the boxing team coach. After several street fights, Lee’s parents decided to enroll him in martial arts training. He completed his high school education at Edison Technical School in Seattle.
At age nine, Lee co-starred in “The Kid” (1950). In 1958, after rigorous training, Lee competed in the Hong Kong schools’ boxing tournament and won. Due to his recurring street fights, Lee’s parents sent him to the U.S. to stay with his sister, Agnes Lee. While in the U.S., Lee graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Washington, but dropped out in 1964. He met Ed Parker, the American martial artist, and performed at the Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1964. Lee fought several people in his martial arts career, including Wong Jack-man. He appeared in the T.V. series, “The Green Hornet” as Kato from 1966 to 1967. After the show was canceled, Lee opened the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in 1967. He trained relentlessly to improve his craft and began weight training, running, stretching, fencing and boxing to hone his skills. He appeared in four episodes of “Longstreet” (1971). In the same year, he played his first lead role in “The Big Boss.” The film was an international success and catapulted him into stardom. He followed up this success with “Fist of Fury” (1972), which broke box office records, grossing $130 million worldwide, $30 million more than “The Big Boss.” His fourth film, “Enter the Dragon” (1973), was released six days after Lee’s death and grossed $350 million worldwide.
Lee had several posthumous releases, including his documentary “Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey.” He died from a cerebral edema on July 20, 1973, after complaining of headaches. As a highly-revered multi-talented individual, Lee received various honors even in death. He has statues in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Mostar. He also has a theme park dedicated to his memory. Lee was survived by his family and friends, including his wife, Linda Emery, whom he married in 1964, and their two children.
Lee co-stars in “The Kid.”
Lee wins his first Hong Kong schools’ boxing tournament.
Lee performs at the Long Beach International Karate Championships.
Lee stars in this film, which becomes an international box office success.
Why We Love Bruce Lee
He was talented
Lee was talented and passionate in many fields. His talent and skill are awe-inspiring to this day.
He changed how Americans portray Asians
Lee promoted Hong Kong action cinema. He helped to change the way Asians were presented in American films.
He was hardworking
Lee displayed a dedication to his training and craft like few others. His passion was admired by many.
5 Surprising Facts
He was one-quarter German
Lee was one-quarter German on his mother’s side and was initially seen as a foreigner, being prevented from training in Chinese Martial Arts.
He performed two-finger pushups
Lee could do pushups with only his thumb and index finger.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was his student
Lee taught the American basketball star martial arts.
He wrote poetry
Lee wrote poetry that reflected his emotions and life stages.
He trained Chuck Norris
Lee had a long list of celebrities he trained, including Norris.
Bruce Lee FAQs
Who was Bruce Lee married to?
Lee married Linda in 1964.
Did Jackie Chan know Bruce Lee?
Chan admired Lee and was a stunt double in “Fist of Fury.”
Who was Bruce Lee’s first student?
Lee’s first student was Jesse Glover.
Bruce Lee’s birthday dates