The undisputed martial arts legend and one of the most memorable movie screen presences of all time has a birthday today.
Film legend Bruce Lee would have turned 73 and probably would still be able to kick your ass if he was here among us.
The San Francisco, Calif. native was actually named “Bruce” by a nurse at the hospital where he was born and his real first name was “Lee” but the new name stuck after pre-school when he started to make a name for himself as a child actor at a very young age scoring his first role at age 3 in the 1941 movie Golden Gate Girl. Growing up in a showbiz family meant having to move around a lot but by the time he made it back to Hong Kong, he quickly found work in more than 20 films throughout the 1940s and started to take up martial arts as a way to defend himself against school bullies.
Eventually, he moved back to the United States to earn his college degree and teach martial arts before opening his own studios in Oakland and Los Angeles. He became a certified star in 1966 on television as Kato, the wily sidekick of the hero The Green Hornet. He followed it with a string of TV appearances before signing a film contract that would produce some of his most memorable kung-fu films such as Fists of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Sadly, he wouldn’t even survive to see its release after a brain edema caused reactions to pain medication killed him at the age of 32, just one month before the release of Enter the Dragon.
It’s sad to think of all the great movies and moves he could have done if he had just lived a little big longer. Hell, that remake of The Green Hornet alone would have been a whole lot better.