Bruce Lee Chronological Time Line
- 1940 - November 27 - San Francisco- In the The Year of the
Dragon between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. (the hour of the dragon), Lee Jun Fan,
Bruce Lee is born at the Jackson Street Hospital in San Francisco
Chinatown while his father and mother traveled to the U.S. Lee Hoi Chuen,
Bruce's father, was performing with the Cantonese Opera Company in America. At
three months old, Bruce debuts in "Golden Gate Girl" in San Francisco, CA. He
plays role of a female baby, carried by his father.
- 1941 (Age 1): Hong Kong - Bruce and his parents return to
Kowloon, their family home. They move to into an apartment at 218 Nathan Road,
Kowloon district. The apartment is located on the second story of a building
which contained a store on the ground level.
- 1946 (Age 6): Hong Kong - Bruce makes his first major
childhood movie in The Beginning of a Boy. Later this year, he performs
in The Birth of Mankind, and My Son, Ah Cheun. (During the later
years of his childhood, Bruce appears in 20 more films in Asia. In these
films, Bruce's vivid facial expressions begin to develop, and they foreshadow
his future expressions in his famous Kung-Fu movies. Bruce becomes nearsighted
and starts wearing glasses. (He will later start wearing contacts, suggested
to him by a friend who is an optometrist.)
- 1952 (Age 12): Hong Kong - Bruce begins attending La Salle
- 1953 (Age 13): Hong Kong - After being beaten up by a street
gang, Bruce begins to take Kung-Fu lessons, despite local Hong Kong laws,
outlawing street fights. This is the first, and the last time Bruce loses a
fight. He begins to train under Sifu Yip Man, a master of the Wing Chun system
- 1954 (Age 14): Hong Kong - Bruce takes up cha-cha dancing.
- 1958 (Age 18): Hong Kong - Bruce wins the Crown Colony
Cha-Cha Championship. Bruce has a leading role in the film The Orphan.
This is the last movie Bruce makes as a child actor. This is the only movie
where Bruce does not fight.
- 1958 (Age 18): ??? - Bruce enters the 1958 Boxing
Championships and defeats the reigning three year champion, Gary Elms.
- 1959 (Age 19): Hong Kong - Because of numerous street
fighting, causing police involvement, Bruce's father and mother decide that
Bruce should take a three week voyage to the United States. The trip is a
possible means to get him back on the right track. He return to his
birth-place -- San Francisco Chinatown. Time was also running out for him to
claim his American Citizenship.
- 1959 (Age 19): San Francisco - Seattle - With $15 from his
father, and $100 from his mother, Bruce arrives in the United States, living
with an old friend of his father's. He works odd jobs around the various
Chinese communities. Later, he moves to Seattle to work for Ruby Chow, another
friend of his father's. He lives in a room above her restaurant while working
as a waiter downstairs. He eventually enrolls in Edison Technical School and
earns his high school diploma. Bruce begins to teach his Martial Art skills in
backyards and city parks.
- 1961 - March (Age 21): Seattle- Bruce enrolls at the
University of Washington, studying Philosophy. He teaches Kung-Fu to students
- 1963 - Summer (Age 23): Hong Kong - Bruce proposes to Amy
Sanbo but is turned down. Bruce returns to Hong Kong with friend Doug Palmer
for the first time since his arrival in the U.S. to visit family. He then
returns to Seattle at the end of summer to continue his education.
- 1963 - October 25 (Age 23): Seattle - Bruce takes out Linda
Emery (his future wife) for their first date. They have dinner at the Space
Needle. Bruce gives notice to Ruby Chow and leaves her restaurant. He starts
the first Jun Fan Kung-Fu Institute.
- 1963 - Fall (Age 23): Seattle - Bruce moves his Jun Fan
Kung-Fu Institute into a building (4750 University Way) near the university
campus. He teaches any person of any race. (most Asian Martial Arts schools
would only teach people of their own race). At Garfield High School, Bruce
demonstrates the "One-Inch Punch". This is the punch he would later make
famous at the 64' Long Beach Internationals and which was developed by him and
James DeMile in Seattle. Bruce would hold his arm straight out, and with a
shrug of his shoulder, knock a man straight across the ground.
- 1964 (Age 24): ??? Bruce meets Jhoon Rhee at the
International Karate Championships. The two would remain good. (Jhoon Rhee
will invite Bruce to Washington, D.C. to appear at tournaments.)
- 1964 - June (Age 24): ??? - Bruce discusses with James Yimm
Lee plans to open a second Jun Fan Kung-Fu Institute in Oakland, CA.
- 1964 - Summer - Oakland (Age 24): Plans are finalized, and
Bruce leaves Seattle to start a second Jun Fan Kung-Fu school in Oakland. His
good friend, Taky Kimura, takes over as head instructor.
- 1964 - August 17 (Age 24): Seattle - Bruce returns to
Seattle to marry Linda. They soon move to Oakland.
- 1964 - August 2 (Age 24): Long Beach, Ca - Ed Parker, known
as the Father of American Karate (Kenpo), invites Bruce to give a
demonstration. Bruce shows off his "one-inch punch," and his two-finger
push-ups, where he literally does "two" finger push-ups. At his first
International Karate Championships, Jay Sebring, the hair stylist for
Batman, William dozier, a producer, who is looking to cast a part in a TV
series he was developing. Sebring then gives a film of Bruce's demo to Dozier
who is impressed at Bruce's super-human abilities. Bruce later flys down to
Los Angeles for a screen test.
- 1964 - August 4 (Age 24): Oakland - Bruce leaves for
Seattle. He will propose to Linda.
- 1965 (Age 24): Oakland - Several months after he begins
teaching, he is challenged by, Wong Jack Man, a leading Kung-Fu practitioner
in the Chinatown Community. They agree: If Bruce looses, he will, either close
his school, or stop teaching Caucasians; and if Jack looses, he will stop
teaching. Jack Man Wong does not belie Bruce would actually fight, and tries
to delay the match. Bruce becomes angered and insists that they not wait. Wong
then tries to put limitations on techniques. Bruce refuses "rules"and the two
go no holds barred. Bruce begins to pound his opponent in only a couple of
seconds. As Bruce is winning, Wong attemps to flee, but is caught by Bruce.
Bruce begins to beat him on the ground. Students of the other teacher
attempted to step in and help their teacher, James Lee, Bruce's good friend
prevent this. Later he is bothered on why the fight took so long and begins to
re-evaluate his style. He is determined that he is not in his top physical
condiiton. Thus, the early concepts of Jeet Kune Do (JKD), "The art of the
intercepting fist" is created. JKD is an art including techniques of all
types of fighting. (i.e. American Boxing, Thai Kick Boxing, Japanese Karate,
etc.) His style is no style.
Bruce is signed to a one-year option for The Green Hornet. He is paid
an $1800 retainer.
- 1965 - February 1 (Age 25): Oakland, CA - Brandon Bruce Lee
- 1965 - February 8 (Age 25): Hong Kong - Bruce's father
passes away in Hong Kong. Bruce returns to Hong Kong for his fathers funeral.
As tradition dictates, in order to obtain forgiveness for not being present
when his father died, Bruce crawls on his knees across the floor of the
funeral home towards the casket wailing loudly and crying.
- 1965 - May (Age 25): ??? Bruce uses the retainer money from
the Green Hornet and flys himself, Linda, and Brandon back to Hong Kong
in order to settle his father's estate affairs. While in Hong Kong, Bruce
takes Brandon to see Yip Man to persuade Yip to perform on tape. Bruce wants
to take the footage back to Seattle and show his students what the man looks
like in action. Yip modestly declines.
- 1965 - September (Age 25): Seattle - Bruce, Linda, Brandon
return to Seattle.
- 1966 (Age 26): Los Angeles - Bruce and family move to Los
Angeles to an apartment on Wilshire and Gayley in Westwood. This is where he
begins working on a new TV series called The Green Hornet as Kato. The
Green Hornet series starts filming and Bruce is Paid $400 per episode. Bruce
buyse a 1966 blue Chevy Nova. Bruce is later known to have gotten the part of
Kato because he was the only person who could accurately pronounce the star's
name, Britt Reid. He later opens third branch of the Jun Fan Kung-Fu Institute
in Los Angeles' Chinatown.
- 1966 - September 9 (Age 26): Los Angeles - The Green Hornet
- 1967-1971 (Age 27-31): Hollywood - During this time, Bruce
lands bit parts in various films and T.V. series. He also gives private
lessons for up to $250 an hour to personalities Steve McQueen, James Coburn,
James Garner, Lee Marvin, Roman Polanski, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Bruce meets
Chuck Norris in New York at the All American Karate Championships in
Washington D.C. Chuck fights Joe Lewis and wins.
- 1967 (Age 27): Washington, D.C. - Bruce meets Joe Lewis at
The Mayflower Hotel while both were guests at the 67' National Karate
Championships. Joe is competing in the tournament and Bruce is making special
appearances as Kato.
- 1967 - February (Age 27): Los Angeles - Bruce opens a 3rd
school at 628 College Street, Los Angeles, CA. Dan Inosanto serves as
- 1967 - July 14 (Age 27): Los Angeles - The last episode of
The Green Hornet Series shows. The movie is later said to have failed because
Bruce, a minor role became more popular than the main character.
- 1969 - April 19 (Age 29): Santa Monica, CA Shannon Lee is
- 1969 (Age 29): ??? - A scriptwriter is hired and paid $12K
by Stirling Silliphant and James Coburn to write a script for the Silent
Flute. The script produced is unacceptable, and no other scriptwriter
could seen to do the job. They then decide to write it themselves.
- 1970 (Age 30): Los Angeles - Bruce injures his sacral nerve
and experiences severe muscle spasms in his back while training. Doctors told
him that he would never kick again. During the months of recovery he starts to
document his training methods and his philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. Later after
his death, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do is published by his wife in memory
of Bruce Lee.
- 1970 (Age 30): Hong Kong - Bruce and Brandon fly to Hong
Kong and are welcomed by fans of The Green Hornet Show.
Bruce sends Unicorn to talk to Run Run Shaw on his behalf and inform Shaw that
he would be willing to do a movie for him for $10K. Shaw makes counter-offer
of a seven year contract and $2K per film which Bruce declines.
- 1971 - February (Age 31): India - Bruce, James Coburn,
Stirling Silliphant fly to India to scout locations for The Silent Flute.
They spend one month searching but are forced to call off the search as Coburn
backs out of the project. This trip gives Bruce the idea for Game of Death,
where a fighter, mastering in several techniques, will go from one level to
the next in a temple: the first level (the level of weaponry), the second
level (the level of the nine degree black belt), and the third level ( "The
level of the unknown.")
- 1971 (Age 31): Hong Kong. - Bruce takes a short trip back to
Hong Kong to arrange for his mother to live in the U.S. Unknowingly to him, he
had become a superstar for The Green Hornet was one of the most popular
TV shows in Hong Kong. Later, he is approached by Raymond Chow, owner of a new
production company, and offered the lead role in a new film called The Big
Boss. Bruce accepts.
Bruce is supplied with small furnished apartment at 2 Man Wan Road - Kowloon,
HK. Wu Ngan, moves in with Bruce and Linda. Later Wu Ngan marries and his new
wife moves in as well. Brandon attends La Salle College. The same school Bruce
attended only 15 years before. Bruce is inteviewed by Canadian talk show host,
Pierre Berton, for a tv program being filmed in Hong Kong. This is the only on
film said to be in existance.
- 1971- July (Age 31): Thailand - Filming begins for The Big
Boss (released in the U.S. as Fists of
Fury). The Big Boss opens in Hong Kong to great reviews and
mobs of fans. Proceeds to gross more than $3.5 million in little than three
- 1971 - December 7 (Age 31): Hong Kong - Bruce receives
telegram, notifying him that he had not been chosen fo the part in the
upcoming series, The Warrior. This series was later released as
Kung-Fu, staring David Carradine, who doesn't know shit about martial
arts. (The show aired as ABC-TVs Movie of the Week on February 21, 1972.)
- 1972 (Age 32): Hong Kong - Fist of Fury (released in the
U.S. as The Chinese Connection)
is released. It grosses more than The Big Boss and further establishes
Bruce as a Hong Kong superstar. Bruce gets a larger budget, a larger salary,
and more power of directing in this film. Bruce begins work on Game of
Death and films several fight scenes including Danny Inosanto and Kareem
Bruce appears on Hong Kong's TVB channel for a hurricane disaster relief
benefit. In a demo Bruce performs, he breaks 4 out of 5 boards, one of which
is hanging in the air with a line of string. Brandon even performs and breaks
a board with a sidekick!
Bruce helps Unicorn, a fellow actor, by assisting him for one day and
supervises fight action sequences in Unicorn's film, The Unicorn Palm -
Footage of Bruce on the set is used in the movie and Bruce's name appears in
the credits to his surprise causing Bruce to become angry and make a public
announcement denying his endorsement of the film. Unicorn was advised to get
Bruce's name in the credits, so his movie would have a better chance at being
- 1972 (Age 32): Rome, Italy - Location shots are made for
Bruce's third film The Way of the Dragon (released in the U.S. as
The Return of the Dragon).
This time Bruce gets almost complete control the the movie, which he writes,
directs, and stars in. Chuck Norris is Bruce's adversary in the final fight
scene. Again, this film surpasses all records set by his previous two films.
- 1972 - December 28 (Age 32): Oakland Bruce's brother, James,
dies of "Black Lung."
- 1973 - February (Age 33): Hong Kong - Bruce gets his chance
at American stardom as filming of Enter the Dragon begins while
Game of Death is put on hold. It
is the first-ever production between the U.S. and Hong Kong film industries.
On February 20, Bruce is guest of honor at St. Francis Xavier's school for
Sports Day ceremonies.
- 1973 (Age 33): Los Angeles - Grace Lee, Bruce's sister, sees
Bruce in Los Angeles, CA. Bruce tells her that he does not expect to live much
longer and that she is not to worry about finances as he will make sure she is
provided for. She rebukes him for talking that way.
- 1973 - April (Age 33): Hong Kong - Filming of Enter the
Dragon is completed.
Bruce is at Golden Harvest Studios in Hong Kong dubbing his voice for "Enter
The Dragon". The air conditioners had been turned off, so the microphones
won't pick them up. The temperature soared. Bruce takes a break looping lines
to go to the bathroom and splash water on his face. In he bathroom, he passes
out on the bathroom floor. He revives twenty minutes later just as an
assistant sent to find out what was keeping him walks in and discovers him on
the ground. He tries to conceal his collapse by acting as though he has
dropped his glasses on the floor and is searching for them and is helped up by
the assistant. As they are walking back to the dubbing room, Bruce collapses
again and is rushed to a nearby hospital.
- 1973 - July 10 (Age 33): Hong Kong - Bruce Lee is walking
through the Golden Harvest Studios and overhears Lo Wei in a nearby room bad
mouthing him. He confronts Lo Wei who retreats and summons the local police.
When the police arrive Lo Wei falsely accuses Bruce of threatened him with a
knife concealed in his belt buckle. He further insists that Bruce sign a
statement that he will not harm him. Bruce signs the statement to get Lo Wei
off his back although Lo Wei lied to the police and Bruce never had a knife
nor threatened to kill him.
That same day, Bruce appears on the Hong Kong TV show, Enjoy Yourself
Tonight with host Ho Sho Shin. Bruce alludes to his problems with director
Lo Wei, but does not mention him by name. Bruce is asked to display his
physical prowess and demonstrates his abilities. Bruce demonstrates a
technique and Shin is hurled across the stage. The show of power causes the
press to indite Bruce in the paper and accuse him of bullying the talk show
host though this was not the case.
- 1973 - July 16 (Age 33): Hong Kong - Heavy rains fall caused
by a typhoon off the coast of Hong Kong. Bruce makes a $200 phone call to
speak to Unicorn in his hotel room, who is filming a movie in Manila. Bruce
tells Unicorn that he is worried about the many headaches he is experiencing.
- 1973 - July 18 (Age 33): Hong Kong - A bad Feng Shui
deflector, placed on the roof of Bruce's Cumberland Road home in Hong Kong is
blown off the roof by heavy rain and winds. The deflector had been placed on
the house to protect Bruce and family from bad Feng Shui; previous owners had
all been plagued by financial disaster and it was believed that this was
because of the incorrect positioning of the house. The deflector was to ward
off evil spirits.
- 1973 - July 20 (Age 33): Hong Kong - Early in the morning
Bruce types a letter to his attorney, Adrian Marshall, detailing business
ventures he wants to discuss on his upcoming trip to Los Angeles. Bruce had
tickets already set to return to the US for a publicity tour and was scheduled
to appear on the Johnny Carson show. Raymond Chow goes by Bruce's house and
the two discuss plans for their upcoming movie Game of Death. Linda kisses
Bruce goodbye and says she is going out to run some errands and will see him
later that night. Raymond and Bruce visit Betty Ting Pei at her apartment to
discuss her role in Game of Death.
That evening plans had been made for them all to meet George Lazenby over
dinner and enlist him for a part. Bruce explains that he has a headache, takes
a prescription pain killer offered by Betty, and lies down on her bed to rest
prior to dinner. Raymond Chow departs and says that he will meet them later.
Raymond Chow and George Lazenby meet at a restaurant and await Bruce and
Betty's arrival, but the two never show up. At 9:00 p.m. Chow receives a call
from Betty; she said that she has tried to wake Bruce up but he won't come to.
Betty summons her personal physician who fails to revive Bruce and who has
Bruce taken to the hospital. Bruce does not revive and is pronounced dead. The
doctor's are surprised that he had lasted as long as he did that night but
unfortunately Betty did not get him help as soon as she could have.
Bruce Lee dies in Hong Kong of an apparent cerebral edema (swelling of the
brain). After much confusion and debate, doctors declared the death of Bruce
Lee as "death by misadventure." Enter the Dragon was delayed from its
initial premieres a four days later because of the actors death.
- 1973 - July 25 (Age 33): Hong Kong - A funeral ceremony is
held for friends and fans in Hong Kong consisting of over 25,000 people. Bruce
is dressed in the Chinese outfit he wore in Enter the Dragon.
- 1973 - July 30 (Age 33): Seattle - After a smaller second
ceremony in Seattle, Washington at Butterworth Funeral Home on East Pine
Street, Bruce Lee is buried at Lake View Cemetery. His pallbearers included
Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Danny Inosanto, Taky Kimura, Peter Chin, and his
brother, Robert Lee.
- 1973 - August 24 Hollywood - Enter The Dragon
premiers at Graumann's Chinese Theater. The movie is a success, and Bruce Lee
achieves world-wide fame.