"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Happy birthday Bruce Lee!

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Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940—July 20, 1973) was a Hong Kong-American martial artist and film actor. He was also the founder of his own martial arts schools where he taught Jeet Kune Do. He is remembered for changing the way Asian-Americans are depicted in cinema. Some of his best known films include Fists of Fury (1971), The Chinese Connection (1972), and Enter the Dragon (1973).

 

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Lee was born Lee Jun Fan in San Francisco, California to Lee Hoi-chuen and Grace Ho. His father was a well-known Cantonese opera and film actor and his mother came from a very wealthy family from Hong Kong. Soon after Lee was born, the family moved back to Hong Kong just before the Japanese invasion. Over more than three and a half years, the Lees lived under Japanese occupation. Their neighborhood became increasingly dangerous and his parents decided Lee should learn martial arts. His father began to teach him the basics of Wu-style t'ai chi ch'uan.

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Lee took after his father, appearing in over 20 films as a child.

At the age of 13, Lee began training in Wing Chun. He began to have trouble at school and in his community, becoming regularly involved in street fights. His parents decided to move Lee back to the United States, hoping to find a more peaceful life. He ended up in Seattle in 1959, where he graduated from high school and went on to study drama at the University of Washington.

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Lee began teaching Wing Chun, eventually opening up his own school. It was through his teaching that he met Linda Emery. The two married in 1964 and moved to Oakland, California. Lee opened up studios in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Lee acquired his first taste of fame in the United States after appearing as the Hornet's sidekick, Kato, in the television series The Green Hornet.

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Lee went on to make guest appearances on many television shows including Ironside and Longstreet.

After an injury forced him to take time off from his physical training, Lee came up with the idea for the Buddhist monk TV series Kung Fu.

It soon became clear to Lee that his Asian ancestry was keeping him from getting the major roles he was ready for. He moved to Hong Kong in 1971.

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He appeared in The Big Boss (1971), Fists of Fury (1971), The Chinese Connection (1972), Way of the Dragon (1972), and The Game of Death (1973) all of which showed off his athleticism and understanding of theatrics. 

 

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He cofounded the film production company Concord Productions and by the end of 1972, had his directorial debut with the film Return of the Dragon. He was just about to release his first major Hollywood film Enter the Dragon (1973), when he died suddenly at the age of 32. Though an autopsy found that he died of a brain edema, supposedly from a prescription painkiller he was taking, some claim he was murdered.

Lee left a profound legacy on cinema, leaving the door open for entirely new depictions of Asian Americans and the use of stage-fighting.

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Bruce Lee with his son, Brandon Lee (source)

Selected works and appearances:

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 27 November 2014
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