Cult hero Bruce Lee (1940-1973) was born Li Jun Fan on this day in San Francisco. A frail, small child, he became obsessed with martial arts and body building at a young age.
His exercise regime included 500 kicks per leg and up to 2000 punches per day. He made films in Hong Kong and changed his name before landing his first U.S. role in 1966 as Kato in the TV series, The Green Hornet.
American films followed. With Lee's talent, Kung Fu film became a new art form. He brought the grace and beauty of ballet to the ancient Chinese style of fighting. He was disciplined and could kick and move like no other.
During a fight scene in Enter the Dragon (1973), Lee performed a flying kick so fast that it could not be captured on film at 24 frames per second. The sequence had to be shown in slow motion so that it would not appear faked.
On the verge of international superstardom, Lee mysteriously died of brain edema. He was 32. His early death sparked speculation of foul play and spun his life into mythic proportions.
As if predicting his death, Lee once said, "If I should die tomorrow, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do. You can't expect more from life."
Lee created his own style of fighting called, Jeet Kune Do, which he borrowed from the disciplines of boxing and fencing. "True refinement seeks simplicity," he said, encouraging his students to experiment and stay true to their own spirit. His legacy continues.
More BRUCE LEE Quotations
"The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering."