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Bruce Lee Timeline

November 27, 1940: Bruce Lee is born Lee Jun fan at the Jackson Street Hospital in San Francisco. He is later named Bruce Lee by the nurse.

1941, San Fransico: Bruce appears in his first film at the age of two months.

1941: Bruce and his parents return to their home in Kowloon.

1946, Hong Kong: Appears in the film "The Beginning of a Boy" at the age of 6.

1953: At the age of 14 Bruce enters La Salle College, a highschool. He is a poor student but has a clever mind.

1954: After being involved in numerous street fights Bruce begins training under Sifu Yip Man, a master of the Wing Chun system of Kung Fu.

1958, Hong Kong: Bruce Lee is crowned "Cha Cha King of Hong Kong".

1959, Hong Kong: After being expelled from LaSalle for too many street fights Bruce's father sends him to San Francisco.

1959, San Francisco: Bruce arrives in San Francisco but leaves for Seattle due to unexplained problems.

1959, Seattle: Arrives in Seattle and begins working as a waiter for Ruby Chow, a friend of his father. He lives above the restaurant and begins to teach Gung Fu in backyards and city parks.

1963, Seattle: Bruce enrolls at the University of Washington and meets Linda Emery, 17 years old. Majors in philosophy but never gets his BA or MA. According to a former secretary of the U of W philosophy department, Bruce is a poor student who drops out. However, he published his first book, Chinese Gung Fu, The Philosophical Art of Self Defense.

1964, Summer: Moves to Oakland and opens Kung Fu school after marrying Linda despite her parents' protests: "I want to marry your daughter. We are leaving on Monday. I'm Chinese, by the way."

1964, Oakland: Soon after opening school, challenged by Wong Jock Man from S.F. Though Bruce wins fight, he's annoyed at how long it takes and re-examines approach to martial arts.

1964, Long Beach: At Ed Parker's Invitationals, gives kung fu exhibition filmed by Jay Sebring, the hairstylist for Batman producer William Dozier and Sharon Tate (whom Sebring is later murdered with by the Mansons). Sebring shows film to Dozier, who is looking to fill part in TV pilot, Number One Son. The show never airs.

1965, Los Angeles: Dozier pays Bruce $1,800 retainer to wait a year for The Green Hornet to begin. Brandon Lee born and soon becomes, according to his mother, "the Number One spoiled child you've ever come across."

1966, September: Bruce debuts in The Green Hornet as Hornet's (literal) sidekick, Kato. Receives ton on fan mail and teen zine coverage but show cancelled after first season.

1967, Los Angeles: Meets Fred Weintraub to develop TV show, Kung Fu. Role is perfect for Bruce but given to David Carradine. Does cameos in Matt Helm, and Ironside and trains other actors at $250 an hour: "All of them would come and say 'Hey man, how do you do that?'" Students include Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Kareem Jabbar and screenwriter Stirling "Shaft In Africa" Silliphant, who helps Bruce with script idea.

: 1968, Los Angeles: Begins formulating philosophy of Jeet Kune Do, or "Way of the Intercepting Fist." Instead of blocking and then hitting, Jeet Kune Do, like fencing, focuses on intercepting and hitting in one motion.

1968, Fall: Silliphant writes hour pilot for Longstreet, a crime drama about a blind private detective. Reviews of the pilot (described by Silliphant as an hour lesson in Jeet Kune Do) are mixed but concede that Bruce is a highlight.

1968-69: McQueen and Coburn help land him occasional bits but racism and his abrasive personality hold Bruce back. Bides time by driving his Porsche on Mullholland with McQueen.

1969-70: Gives Silliphant outline for a script based on his dreams which would star McQueen and feature himself in several roles, including a panter and a monkey. McQueen balks, saying, "I'm not going to carry you on my back." Bruce literally shakes his fist and says, "Someday I'm going to be a bigger star than he is!"

1970: Coburn expresses interest and Warners picks up the script, now titled The Silent Flute (i.e. a call of the soul). Coburn, Silliphant, and Bruce go to India intent on filming, but trip ends in disaster when Coburn screams at Bruce for constantly humming along to pop songs. Crushed, Bruce agains shakes his fist and vows revenge, but The Silent Flute is abandoned. (Re-titled Circle of Iron, it is released in 1987, starring David Carradine, who declares that "when Bruce died, his spirit went into me. I'm possessed").

1971, Hong Kong: The Green Hornet's continuing popularity in Hong King compels producer Raymong Chow to offer Bruce the lead in the film, The Big Boss.

1971, October: Made for $100,000 in Bangkok, The Big Boss, later known in America as Fists of Fury, opens in Hong King to ecstatic response and grosses 3.2 million in first run.

1972, Hong Kong: Fists of Fury, Bruce's second film, later known here are Chinese Connection, is made for $200,000 and breaks all records set by a first film. In Singapore, $2 ticketsm fetch $45, and the film is withdrawn to ease traffic jams. In the Phillipines it's closed to give domestic films a chance. Eventually the first two films grossed over $20 million. The second film, though, is too similar to the first (what Chinese call "warming over yesterday's rice") and Bruce begins to feud with director Lo Wei ("No way, Lo Wei").

1972, Hong Kong: Bruce rejects Lo Wei and Chow's script, Stern Faced Tiger, in favor of his own idea, Enter The Dragon. This in turn becomes his third and worst film, Return Of The Dragon, which includes Bruce's fight with Chuck Norris in the Roman Colosseum.

1972, Hong Kong: Bruce announces his next project will be called Game of Death. Mentioning "death" in the title is bad luck (or bad feng shui). The $100,000 house he buys in Kowloon also has bad feng shui.

1972, Hollywood: Before Game of Death can be made, Bruce signs big deal with Warners, and upon his return to L.A., tells McQueen the good news. McQueen responds by sending Bruce autographed photo: "To Bruce Lee, My Greatest Fan, Steve McQueen."

1973, January: Production on Enter The Dragon begins in Hong Kong, despite Bruce's feuds with screenwriter Michael Alin and producers Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller. Bruce is now mobbed in public, forcing him to don disguises. He also receives challenges--even by mail and phone--from scores of tough guys. Too often Bruce accepts the challenges.

1973, Winter: Bruce injured several times during shooting. Said to look alternately pale and dark. On the set he hangs out with stuntmen from rival Triad gangs. The staged fights with 400 extras "often degenerated into a vengeful brawl." Bruce also vows to his buddies that "at the end of our big fight scene, I'm going to kill (co-star) Bob Wall." He is later talked out of it.

1973, May 10: During final edit session for Dragon, Bruce collapses, convulses, loses consciousness. Hong Kong doctors prescribe drugs to reduce the brain swelling they detect, but doctors at UCLA later find no trouble after series of tests. Bruce reportedly drinking as many as 20 sakes a night.

1973, July 20: Raymond Chow and Bruce meet at apartment of actress Betty Ting-Pei to go over new Game of Death script. Bruce complains of headache, Betty gives him a prescription herbalist pill called Equagesic, he lies down and hours later is dead of a cerebral edema, or massive swelling of the brain. Attempt to move body from Betty to Bruce's house exposed by Hong Kong critic Mel Tobias and fuels speculation of foul play. Original cause of death listed as "marijuana poisoning," later changed to "death by misadventure." An estimated 20,000 people attend his funeral in Hong Kong. Normall restrained Chinese weep in public.

1973, Summer: Rumors fly: he died while making love to Betty; he died because his house had bad feng shui; he died from the "Iron Fist" or "Vibrating Palm," a killing technique certain Kung Fu Grand Masters allegedly possess which channels all their energy into a single touch. In this last scenario, a Master put his hand on Bruce's shoulder purportedly because he had revealed too many martial arts secrets to Westerners.

1973, August: Enter The Dragon premiers. Rob Cohen, who would later direct the movie about Bruce's life, is at the American opening: "It was the first time I'd ever seen an audience respond to an actor as if he were part of a live sporting event. Cheering, screaming, applauding--I'd never seen anything like that before. Nor have I since." Though released in August, Dragon outgrosses all other films that year except The Exorcist. Made for $500,000, it has grossed over $150 million so far.

1978, Fall: Game of Death is finally released, featuring only 20 minutes of Bruce footage (the rest is filmed with stand-ins).

 

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