Bruce Lee was a Chinese American and Hong Kong actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is considered one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century, and a cultural icon. Bruce Lee portrayed Kato in the 1960s TV series The Green Hornet. Part of the popularity of the show stemmed from Bruce Lee's portrayal of Kato.
Lee was born in San Francisco, California to parents of Hong Kong heritage, but raised in Hong Kong until his late teens. Upon reaching the age of 18, Lee emigrated to the United States to claim his U.S. citizenship and receive his higher education. It was during this time he began teaching martial arts, which soon led to film and television roles.
While in the United States from 1959–1964, Lee abandoned thoughts of a film career in favour of pursuing martial arts. However, a martial arts exhibition on Long Beach in 1964 eventually led to the invitation by William Dozier for an audition for a part in the pilot for Number One Son. The pilot never led to a TV series, but Lee was invited to play Kato, alongside Van Williams as the title character, in The Green Hornet. The show lasted just one season, from 1966 to 1967. Lee also played Kato in three crossover episodes of Batman. This was followed by guest appearances in three television series: Ironside (1967), Here Come the Brides (1969), and Blondie (1969).
Lee died from a cerebral edema on July 20, 1973, at the tragically early age of thirty-two.
His son Brandon Lee (born February 1, 1965) also died tragically young, on March 31, 1993, aged twenty-eight. An accident on the set of the movie The Crow (1994), involving a prop revolver loaded with a defective blank cartridge, resulted in his being shot for real and mortally wounded. Brandon Lee's death occurred just four months short of the anniversary of his father's passing.