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50 Interesting Facts About Bruce Lee: How He Went From a Street Gang Fighter to a Hollywood Legend

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A file photo of Bruce Lee

(Photo : Getty Images) A file photo of Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is best known for bringing Kung Fu to Hollywood. He died at just 32 years of age, but his legacy still remains. Here are 50 fun and interesting facts about the amazing and talented Bruce Lee.

  1. His full name is Lee Jun-fan. The name homophonically means "return again", and was given to Lee by his mother, who felt he would return to the United States once he came of age.

  2. The English name "Bruce" is thought to have been given by the hospital attending physician, Dr. Mary Glover.

  3. He was born on November 27, 1940, in Chinatown, San Francisco, CA.

    Bruce Lee as a baby
    (Photo : Wikipedia) Bruce Lee as a baby
  4. His father Lee Hoi Chuen, a Hong Kong opera singer, moved with his wife, Grace Ho, and three children to the United States in 1939; Hoi Chuen's fourth child, a son, was born while he was on tour in San Francisco.

  5. Bruce wasn't pure Chinese - he was actually part German (his grandfather from his mother's side was half German).

  6. The future star appeared in his first film at the age of 3 months, when he served as the stand-in for an American baby in Golden Gate Girl (1941).

  7. Bruce Lee was not interested in school. After primary school, Bruce entered La Salle College, an English-speaking boys' secondary school in Kowloon, Hong Kong, where he often got into trouble. Bruce was expelled from La Salle for disruptive behavior.

  8. As a teenager, he was taunted by British students for his Chinese background and later joined a street gang. In 1953, he began to hone his passions into a discipline, studying kung fu (referred to as "gung fu" in Cantonese) under the tutelage of Master Yip Man.

  9. He was a child actor in Hong Kong who later returned to the U.S. and taught martial arts.

  10. Lee moved to the United States at the age of 18 to receive his higher education, at the University of Washington, at Seattle and it was during this time that he began teaching martial arts.

  11. When he moved here, he only had $100 to his name. Today, that would be around $800.

  12. While at the University of Washington, he majored in philosophy with focus on the philosophical principles of martial art techniques.

    He was a philosophy major at the University of Washington
    (Photo : PhotoBucket) He was a philosophy major at the University of Washington
  13. He also studied dance, winning Hong Kong's cha-cha competition in 1958 which is kind of like the "Dancing With The Stars" of today.

  14. He was also a talented poetry writer. The free verse form of Lee's poetry reflect his famous quote "Be formless ... shapeless, like water."

  15. In 1964, Bruce began teaching martial arts in California. Up until this point, kung fu had been a closely guarded secret taught only to Chinese. Bruce, however, thought this should be shared with others. For these reasons, Bruce took on Caucasian and black students.

  16. Through his teaching, Lee met Linda Emery, whom he married in 1964.

  17. He was 5' 7" (1.71 m) tall.

  18. In 1964, Bruce was invited to a karate championship in Long Beach, California. There he performed his famous "One Inch Punch," where he would deliver a devastating blow from only an inch away, sending his opponent flying back. Watch the video below:

  19. Bruce Lee and his wife Linda soon moved to California, where Lee opened two more schools in Oakland and Los Angeles.

  20. He taught mostly a style he called Jeet Kune Do, or "The Way of the Intercepting Fist." It stressed "style of no style" and shed the rigid structures of traditional kung fu.

  21. They soon grew a family. The couple had two children--Brandon, born in 1965, and Shannon, born in 1969.

    Bruce Lee with his son Brandon in 1966
    (Photo : Wikipedia) Bruce Lee with his son Brandon in 1966
  22. Lee attracted major attention from famous people who wanted to master kung fu. Among his famous students were celebrities such as Steve McQueen, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris, James Coburn, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He raised his hourly rate to $250 because he didn't want to give the impression that kung fu could be mastered by a few simple lessons. But the higher he put the prices, the faster they came. Bruce was once even flown to Switzerland to give private lessons to Roman Polanski.

  23. Bruce Lee had the ability to snatch a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.

  24. Lee was cast as Kato in The Green Hornet in 1966, but once they began filming, the show's cameraman learned that Bruce's kicks and punches were actually too fast to be seen on camera. The problem was eventually solved by simply asking Lee to punch and kick slower.

  25. By the end of 1972, Lee was a major movie star in Asia. He had co-founded with Raymond Chow his own company, Concord Productions, and had released his first directorial feature, Return of the Dragon.

  26. The television show aired for 26 episodes from 1966 to '67.

  27. Bruce's last movie "Enter the Dragon" was made for a modest $600,000 in 1973. To date, is has grossed over $300,000,000.

    Photo of Bruce Lee as Kato, from the television series The Green Hornet.
    (Photo : Wikipedia) Photo of Bruce Lee as Kato, from the television series The Green Hornet.
  28. After being challenged to a fight by an Enter the Dragon extra, he fought him, beating him in 30 seconds.
  29. Lee could perform one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger. Lee performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.

    Bruce Lee as a young man.
    (Photo : Creative Commons / Fun Thrill) Bruce Lee as a young man.
  30. Bruce Lee is so strong he could take in one arm a 75 lb barbell from a standing position with the barbell held flush against his chest and slowly stick his arms out locking them, holding the barbell there for several seconds.

  31. Bruce was able to explode 100lb bags with a simple sidekick.

  32. Bruce could throw grains of rice up into the air and then catch them in mid-flight using chopsticks.

    A file photo of Bruce Lee during a fight scene.
    (Photo : Getty Images) A file photo of Bruce Lee during a fight scene.
  33. A statue of Bruce Lee was placed in Mostar, Bosnia because he was something that all ethnicities liked and could agree on. The statue was later vandalized and destroyed.

  34. Bruce Lee was a fan of The Great Gama, the only undefeated wrestler in the world. Great Gama's career spanned 50 years.

  35. After he got famous, a lot of people thought they could beat Bruce - they would walk up to him, tap their foot on the ground (symbolizing a challenge) and then proceed to attack him! Well... maybe not that literal, but Bruce's popularity certainly attracted a lot nutcase trying to prove they're better than him.

  36. He believed that any knowledge ultimately led to self-knowledge, and said that his chosen method of self-expression was martial arts. His influences include Taoism, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Buddhism.

  37. Bruce Lee was voted as the Greatest Movie Fighter Ever in 2014 by the Houston Boxing Hall Of Fame. The HBHOF is a combat sports voting body composed exclusively of current and former fighters and Martial Artists.

  38. On May 10, 1973, Lee collapsed during an ADR session for Enter the Dragon at Golden Harvest in Hong Kong. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling through the administration of mannitol. The headache and cerebral edema that occurred in his first collapse were later repeated on the day of his death.

  39. Lee died on July 20, 1973, in Kowloon Tong.

    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 13: A wax figure of Chinese actor, Bruce Lee is seen at the Chinese Garden of Friendship on August 13, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The Bruce Lee wax figure will be on display at Madame Tussauds Sydney to mark the 40th anniversary of the actor's death.
    (Photo : Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 13: A wax figure of Chinese actor, Bruce Lee is seen at the Chinese Garden of Friendship on August 13, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The Bruce Lee wax figure will be on display at Madame Tussauds Sydney to mark the 40th anniversary of the actor's death.
  40. He was just 32 years old at the time of his death.

  41. On October 15, 2005, producer Raymond Chow stated in an interview that Lee died from an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer meprobamate, the main ingredient in Equagesic, which Chow described as an ingredient commonly used in painkillers. When the doctors announced Lee's death officially, it was ruled a "death by misadventure".

  42. Lee's wife Linda returned to her hometown of Seattle, and had him buried at lot 276 of Lakeview Cemetery.

  43. Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Chuck Norris were amongst the pallbearers at Bruce Lee's funeral.

  44. Bruce Lee was filming Game of Death when he died unexpectedly. So what did the studio do? Well, they rewrote the script so Bruce's character faked his own death to escape the mafia. Then they took footage from Bruce's actual funeral - including close-ups shots of the open casket showing his embalmed face.

  45. Bruce Lee was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

  46. A Bruce Lee statue was unveiled in Los Angeles' Chinatown on June 15, 2013. It stands at 7-foot tall and was made in Guangzhou, China.

    Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong
    (Photo : Wikipedia) Bruce Lee statue in Hong Kong
  47. Lee's legacy helped pave the way for broader depictions of Asian Americans in cinema.

  48. Lee's life has been depicted in the 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, based on the 1975 Linda Lee memoir Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew, and the 2009 documentary How Bruce Lee Changed the World.

  49. In 1993, he became a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Hong Kong Film Awards.

  50. His net worth is reportedly $10 million.

    Bruce Lee is buried next to his son Brandon in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle.
    (Photo : Wikipedia) Bruce Lee is buried next to his son Brandon in Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle.

1)


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Tao of Jeet Kune Do: New Expanded Edition (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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Bruce Lee Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living (Bruce Lee Library) (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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Enter the Game of Death (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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Enter the Dragon (1973) (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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Bruce Lee's Fighting Method: The Complete Edition (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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Bruce Lee: Way Of The Dragon / Game Of Death (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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The Art of Expressing the Human Body (Click Link to Check Price on Amazon)
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