Despite completing only four films (a fifth, 'Game of Death,' was never finished), one season of 'The Green Hornet' TV series in the mid-1960s, and a handful of minor film and TV roles, Bruce Lee left an indelible mark on moviegoers and film history. Lee died at the age of 32 from an allergic reaction to medication only days before the premiere of the Hollywood studio-financed 'Enter the Dragon.' He didn't get the chance to see 'Enter the Dragon' become a major commercial hit, based primarily on his star-making turn, or the long-lasting pop culture influence his last film would have on Western audiences, including countless imitations on film and related media (e.g., Marvel Comics' Shang Chi character), and a renewed (if not just new) curiosity in studying Asian martial arts.
Born in San Francisco, but raised in Hong Kong, Lee didn't return to the United States until he was a teenager, studying philosophy (among other subjects) at the University of Washington. A serious martial arts student, he developed his own variation on Wing Chun (a form of Kung Fu), Jeet Kune Do, opening his own school in Oakland and after being discovered at the Long Beach International Championships, Lee headed for Hollywood, winning the role of Kato, martial arts-trained bodyguard and driver to Van Williams' Britt Reid/Green Hornet, an adaptation of the radio series that first aired in the mid 1930s. 'The Green Hornet's' millionaire playboy character by day, costumed vigilante character by night, served as one of several inspirations for Bob Kane and Bill Finger when they created Batman in 1938.