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Mike Leeder

Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly

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Some more tidbits by Polly originally posted at Nick Clarke's forum:

After I interviewed Betty Ting Pei and wrote in my Playboy piece about Enter the Dragon (2013) that Betty had finally admitted that she was his mistress (the first time she gone on the record about that with a Western reporter.), Shannon decided she no longer wanted to work with me. It is the formal policy of the Estate to never cooperate on any project that investigates his death or the circumstances around it. Fortunately I was able to interview Shannon and Linda prior to this break, which I anticipated would occur at some point.

So instead I gained access to his daytime planners, autopsy report, inquest transcript, screenplays, and many of his notes (but certainly not all; there are boxes and boxes of them) through other sources. My belief is the Estate was hoping its withdrawal of support would cripple my project. 

Prior to me, Steve McQueen's biographer, Marshall Terrill, approached the Estate about writing a proper biography of Lee and was rejected because in his McQueen biography he had stated that Lee spoke with an accent. I don't think he was the only one rejected over the years. It is my view that the Estate has wanted to maintain a monopoly on the representation of Lee in the media and therefore has discouraged competition. Based on my conversations with the Estate's lawyer, I'm convinced they would have sued to stop this book if they had believed it would have worked. I was very worried up until the day of publication.

1b) I have forgotten that section of Bleecker's book. He has so many outrageous claims in it. The idea that it was a minor injury is total BS and yet another example of how unreliable this book by Linda's ex-husband is. In his daytime diaries, Lee wrote down, "Back Injury" and then what follows is months of doctor's appointments where he was going in for treatment and presumably cortisone shots on a weekly basis. Either it was a major injury, or Bruce was a hypochondriac. As for how he injured his back, I found no evidence to suggest it wasn't from weightlifting (The Good Morning exercise). Bleecker is obsessed throughout the book with two things: how much money Linda made off of Lee (a portion of which he was hoping to get his hands on as her husband until she divorced him) and Linda's sex life. It seems obvious hateful BS to me. What fit 29 year old injures his back so badly he needs months of cortisone injections from having sex with his wife? If Sharon Farrell's testimony tells us anything it's that Lee was as good at sex as he was kung fu.

2) I spent a lot of time arguing with the University of Washington about getting my hands on his transcript. They can only release it with the permission of the family, and I no longer had it at that point. But I was able to find it through another source. The version I obtained listed his classes but not his grades. Officials at UW confirmed its legitimacy. On it, it lists his major as "Drama." My description of his academic career at UW was based on the transcript and also a Seattle Times reporter who saw a version of the transcript with the grades attached. In his Junior year, Bruce took his first two classes in philosophy: both introductory classes. I believe he was planning to change his major but never got around to it before deciding he was going to drop out. So he was telling, in my view, a small fib: He intended to major in philosophy.

He also wrote a letter to a H.K. friend saying he was taking college classes in California and intended to graduate as a philosophy major. There is no evidence he ever took another college class after dropping out of UW. It seems clear to me that he was deeply embarrassed that he never graduated from college unlike his older brother who his father favored for being the intellectual of the family. I have always wondered if Bruce would have found a way to finish up his college degree if Linda hadn't gotten pregnant.

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I'm in the process of reading this book and you got to love the marketing of it,

"For all those intervening decades, no one has written a thorough biography of Lee until now. In "Bruce Lee: A Life," which came out last week, Matthew Polly draws on a decade of research and interviews to tell a remarkable story not only of a celebrity but of a child, a teenager and a man."

https://newsok.com/article/5598939/bruce-lee-biographer-offers-insights-into-martial-artists-life

We just need to forget all the previous (non-thorough?) biographies by Alex Ben Block, Felix Dennis, Mito Uyehara, Robert Clouse, Bruce Thomas, and yes Linda Lee, even though Bruce Lee: A Life includes paragraphs, pages directly lifted from previous biographies.

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14 minutes ago, Drunken Monk said:

I'm not the biggest fan of Bruce but I'd genuinely like to read a "definitive" biography. With pages lifted from other books it sounds like this isn't it.

I'm reading it right now, and other than providing another theory on the cause of Lee's death, (heat stroke) and a name of some 1960s actress he had an affair with, it is pretty similar to other published biographies.

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I guess a lot depends on what sort off fan you are?, if you've been on fan forums, like this one and others, for a long time. Then it's going to be tougher to find a book that covers anything new. If you are a casual fan, then I'd say its going to uncover a lot more new materiel. For any book to make a profit, you cant just aim it at a small niche group of people, within the already small niche of Martial Arts cinema.

I'm actually more interested in the other two books he wrote now, which I wasnt aware of until his BL tome started to get talked about.

Edited by DragonClaws

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New Bruce Lee bio debunks myths about the 'kung fu Jesus'

(CNN)  Bruce Lee was training a friend one day when he did something unexpected.
The star of the classic film, "Enter the Dragon," was already known for his fanatical fitness regimen. He didn't smoke or drink; he gobbled vitamin supplements and drank raw blended hamburger meat. He'd transformed himself into a lithe fighter who could do two-finger push-ups and send burly men flying with his famed one-inch punch.
But Lee ended the training session at his home on this particular day with a different type of flourish. He lit a joint and started puffing away. It came from a box of marijuana cigarettes he kept in his garage. Lee would later move on to hashish, carrying it around in little bags and nibbling on it like edibles.
"It raises the consciousness level," Lee explained when another martial artist asked him why he got high.

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      I have this book..as far as the heat stroke theory, I personally don't buy it. The theory from the autopsy episode on Bruce taking too much cortisone (which doctors prescribed) and Bruce going into adrenal crisis makes MUCH more sense.  If Bruce considered himself a martial artist first and an actor second than that's his right. Bruce working in movies first as a child before learning martial arts is irrelevant as far as which he prioritized first in his life. By that logic, we would all be defined by our first jobs. Jobs pay the bills whether its acting or any other profession.  If Linda chooses to believe that her husband didn't have affairs, that is also her right. If the Lee family works hard to keep up an untarnished image of Bruce Lee, well, that's also their right whether true or otherwise. 

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3 hours ago, Phantom Dreamer said:

He'd transformed himself into a lithe fighter

 

I know sure if he got the lithe look by desire, or from the side effects of the cortisone?. Remember Lee had a big issue with his weight loss, and he even mentioned his concerns to people like Chuck Norris. He clearly wasnt aiming to compete in the Mr Univese contest, but he aimed to get bigger and stronger through weight training. Rather than lose weight and get weaker.

 

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Hat's of to Mattew Polly, the man's been out promoting his book ad mixing with fans from all over the globe.

 

 

Edited by DragonClaws

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The rivalry betwen Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee:

The Silent Flute becomes divisive.

Which became apparent when Bruce had developed a project called The Silent Flute, which he attempted to talk Steve McQueen into playing the hero while he himself would portray a number of different roles that McQueen's character would interact with. "But Steve turned it down," says Matthew. "Still, Bruce kept pushing him and Steve finally said, 'Look, I'm not going to carry you on my shoulders. You want to do this movie so you can be a star and use me to do that, and I'm not in the business of making other people stars.'"

https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/steve-mcqueen-bruce-lee-163809?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=socialshare

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I really like McQueen's movies, but like a lot of action stars, McQueen was a prick. Not a bit of a prick, a full on one, like Eastwood and many others. Eastwood had his mistress sterilized and blacklisted, so I think that puts him in prick category. But, in Polly's book Ruby Chow's brother called Bruce "a self centered asshole". Anyway, Hollywood is a vicious town, and you have to fit in I guess. This house of cards is falling, though.

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http://www.connecticutmag.com/arts/new-haven-author-s-bruce-lee-biography-unearths-new-details/article_1a701870-9f54-11e8-a377-c343441839f1.html

When it comes to Bruce Lee’s legacy, Matthew Polly hopes his book provides a more complete picture of an extraordinary cultural figure who was so much more than just a martial arts master.

“I think when someone becomes an icon they almost become like a mythical demigod from the Greek myths, so they come to stand for some ideal. Like Aphrodite is the goddess of love. Bruce Lee is the god of kicking ass or he’s the god of the warrior. So when someone is a great fighter, they’re like, ‘Oh, he was like Bruce Lee,’ so the fighting, martial arts aspect of his persona is what’s remembered,” Polly says. “I think the two things that are most important about his legacy is that he was the first Asian-American male actor to ever star in a Hollywood movie, so he was kind of the Jackie Robinson of Chinese actors. The second is that he introduced more Westerners to Asian culture than any other human being to ever live. So he’s a missionary figure, someone who bridged the gap between East and West.”

o Lee’s legacy, Polly hopes his book provides a more complete picture of an extraordinary cultural figure who was so much more than just a martial arts master.

“I think when someone becomes an icon they almost become like a mythical demigod from the Greek myths, so they come to stand for some ideal. Like Aphrodite is the goddess of love. Bruce Lee is the god of kicking ass or he’s the god of the warrior. So when someone is a great fighter, they’re like, ‘Oh, he was like Bruce Lee,’ so the fighting, martial arts aspect of his persona is what’s remembered,” Polly says. “I think the two things that are most important about his legacy is that he was the first Asian-American male actor to ever star in a Hollywood movie, so he was kind of the Jackie Robinson of Chinese actors. The second is that he introduced more Westerners to Asian culture than any other human being to ever live. So he’s a missionary figure, someone who bridged the gap between East and West.”

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There are weird parts of the book, such as the claim HK actresses would not play prostitutes, LOL! The reason they had hookers is because they were cheap and Raymond Chow was exceptionally cheap (look at most of his stuff at the time) , and a decent amount of actresses showed skin, and yes, a body double counts. If you play a character who strips naked, it doesn't matter whose boobs are shown, it is a nude scene.

Also, no mention of Skipper Mullins chasing Bruce Lee around at a tournament with his kicks, though Norris and others mentioned it. He did spar a few guys, but the implication I got was Lee couldn't get near him. Mullins was a great kicker, but only 5'7". Lee was not that interested in fighting full contact, or he would have done so. He had limitations- scoliosis for one. As another biographer mentioned he was an incredibly fit frail guy. I could post an article where his strength and fitness was not at the level of amateur kickboxers of the last decade. Danny Inosantos bashfully admitted he would not have been able to handle Chai Sirusuite (spelling) a Thai  boxer who moved to LA and worked with the JKD people down there. None of those point guys could handle the Thai style when they encountered it in the 70's. A lot of them could not even handle the PKA full contact karate, considering how many "champions" were one and done when they went up against someone like Bill Wallace or Benny the Jet. The reality is, compared to International Judoka, Thai Boxers, Boxers, Greco Roman wrestler and some of the Kyokushin fighters here and abroad, the "blood and guts" point fighters were not at their level athletically or to be honest, technique wise. And Kung Fu guys from HK, trained part time martial arts, while mainly as opera stars? Come on! It's a low bar. There's a reason why everyone was afraid of Gene LeBell. Still Bruce dragged martial arts into the light, never to be the same. 

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With all my respect, a bio claiming Bruce died 'cause of heatstroke having removed with surgical his sweat glands, is more or less like those who claims Elvis killed by Illuminati: just another kind of Bruceploitation. No proof, just chatting. Next time they will publish a book claiming Bruce was killed by Italian Cosa Nostra. Its only my opinion, of course. Talking about totally different trivia, here you can see the former Bruce's family palace, now a big shopping mall, on Nathan Road, HK. It's something you easily find on the web now, but this still comes from my documentary made in 2007. Li's clan did live in a big apartment in that palace, then demolished. Ciao

centro comm palazzaccio.bmp

Edited by yiyuen

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