Bruce Lee, circa 1972.
There are certain moments in life that you never forget. Oddly, I still remember the evening when as a kid I got a glimpse of Bruce Lee on the tube in Game of Death. It was the immortal scene where Lee, at all of 5′ 7″, squares-off against 7′ 2″ basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his unending Plastic Man-like reach. My heart was pounding out of my chest, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the sinewy, screaming, leaping Bruce Lee– I’d never seen anything so crazy and exciting in all my short life. He seemed more full of life, energy and determination than anyone I’d ever seen– yet, I was watching a man onscreen who had already passed away. It seemed almost unbelievable that he was gone– I think that pretty much sums up the effect he had on a lot of people. He was so skilled, entertaining and charismatic that you couldn’t take your eyes off him, because if you did– you might quickly miss out on something that’s never been seen before. You were sure there was no one person in the world that could take Bruce Lee out. He seemed to be invincible onscreen– which makes his mysterious passing all the more ironic.
Original caption from 1966– Bruce Lee, who plays Kato in ABC-TV’s Fridays, (7:30-8 P.M., EST) springs into three of the basic positions of Kung Fu, the ancient Oriental art of self-defense of which Bruce is a master.
There’s an interesting bit about Bruce Lee’s relationship with another Hollywood icon he hung out with– Steve McQueen. Among the many stars that Bruce Lee counted as his pupils and friends (James Coburn, James Garner, etc.) none were bigger than McQueen. Obviously both were highly competitive guys, so when Bruce Lee’s star began to rise it caused notable tension between the two that almost destroyed their friendship.