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24 Things You Didn't Know About Bruce Lee

Updated August 26, 2019 14.0k views24 items

Born Lee Jun-Fan in San Francisco, CA, Bruce Lee would eventually become internationally famous as a film star and martial artist. Even if you put Lee's fighting and acting conquests aside, enough fun facts about Bruce Lee exist that reveal him to be a man of great talent and charisma. Even as a young man, Lee showed amazing resolve and dedication to every action he undertook. Responsible for propelling Hong Kong martial arts films into prominence in the West, he completely changed the stereotypical portrayals of Asians in film, especially in mainstream Hollywood films. When it comes down to it, there are likely many different things you didn't know about Bruce Lee.

Although Lee's filmography included only a few feature films, one completed posthumously, he nonetheless emerged as a major movie star in Asia and soon after the entire world. Even once you finish all those movies, Bruce Lee fun facts will keep you just as entertained. His untimely and mysterious death at the age of 32 remains controversial and only added more mystique to one of the most groundbreaking figures in the history of world cinema.

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  • Hong Kong Producers Shamelessly Exploited Lee's Death By Showing Footage Of Him In His Casket

    Hong Kong Producers Shamelessly Exploited Lee's Death By Showing Footage Of Him In His Casket
    Photo: pinterest

    Eager to cash in on Lee's wild popularity, Golden Harvest Studios, the production entity that produced all of his Asian films, wanted to finish Bruce's partially completed Game of Death  but only possessed limited footage to work with. It took over five years to release the movie,  possibly because of the studio's various challenges in assembling a film that was even roughly coherent. Golden Harvest re-shot numerous scenes using a double, disguises, and even a plot change incorporating plastic surgery to explain the main character's different appearance. Though such antics are used by plenty of production companies, Golden Harvest went one step further. They actually had the Bruce Lee character "fake" his own death so actual footage of Lee's funeral and his open casket could be included in the film.  

  • Lee Was Partially Caucasian

    Lee Was Partially Caucasian
    Photo: pinterest

    That Bruce Lee was not 100% ethnically Chinese remains undisputed. Exactly who provided the Caucasian genetics to Lee's background has been misstated repeatedly in books and films about his life and family background. Many sources point to a maternal grandmother who allegedly was German. However, because his parents wished to preserve his American citizenship, they underwent extensive interviews with American immigration authorities before returning to Hong Kong in 1941. In these interviews his mother stated her father was Chinese and her mother was English.

  • Lee Was Not Known As Bruce In His Childhood

    Lee Was Not Known As Bruce In His Childhood
    Photo: Public Domain / wikimedia commons

    Because of his birth in the United States, a hospital nurse suggested Lee be given the Western name of Bruce. However, few ever used this name during Lee's childhood in Hong Kong. He went by the name his parents gave him, "Lee Jun-Fan" which means roughly "to return and prosper." Some say his mother hoped for him to return to the US and become successful. Eventually, Lee did return to the US, where he would pursue an education and meet his wife. 

  • Lee Failed A Military Physical

    Lee Failed A Military Physical
    Photo: pinterest

    Based on his birth location and heritage, Lee was a citizen of the United States. In 1963, this resulted in his summons before a draft board for possible induction into the armed forces. The board deemed him unfit for combat, but the reason behind their decision varies from source-to-source. Some accounts say the decision was made due to his undescended testicle. Others base the rejection on Lee's poor eyesight, which required thick glasses from a young age, and one leg being shorter then the other.