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How Did Bruce Lee Die

March 8, 2012 by staff 

How Did Bruce Lee Die, Brandon Bruce Lee (February 1, 1965 – March 31, 1993) was an American actor and martial artist. He was the son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee. After a promising start in action movies and the signing of a multi-film contract with 20th Century Fox, Lee was accidentally shot and killed in North Carolina at the age of 28 while filming The Crow.
Brandon Lee was born in Oakland, California, the son of martial artist and actor Bruce Lee and Linda Emery. A week after his birth, his grandfather Lee Hoi-Chuen died. The family moved to Los Angeles, California when he was three months old. When offers for film roles became limited for his father, he and his family moved back to Hong Kong in 1965. His heritage on his mother’s side is English and Swedish and his father is 3/4 Chinese and 1/4 German.

When Brandon was eight, his father died suddenly from cerebral edema. After his father’s death, his family (including his younger sister, Shannon Lee, b. April 19, 1969) moved back to the United States. They lived briefly in his mother’s hometown of Seattle, Washington, and then in Los Angeles, where Lee grew up in the affluent area of Rolling Hills.

He attended high school at Chadwick School, but was asked to leave for insubordination-more specifically, driving down the school’s hill backwards, only three months before graduating. It is not known when exactly, but he did briefly attend Bishop Montgomery High School, located in Torrance. He received his GED in 1983 at the age of 18, and then went to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts where he majored in theater. After one year, Lee moved to New York City where he took acting lessons at the famed Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and was part of the American New Theatre group founded by his friend John Lee Hancck. The bulk of Lee’s martial arts instruction came from his father’s top students, and best friends Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo.

On March 31, 1993, while making The Crow, the crew filmed a scene in which his character walks into his apartment and discovers his fiancée being beaten and raped by thugs. Actor Michael Massee, who played one of the film’s villains, was supposed to fire a revolver at Lee as he walked onto the scene.

Since the movie’s second unit was running behind schedule, they decided to make dummy cartridges (cartridges that outwardly appear to be functional but contain no propellant or primers) from real cartridges by pulling out the bullets, dumping out the propellant and reinserting the bullets. However, the team neglected to remove the primers, which, if fired, could still produce just enough force to push the bullet out of the cartridge and into the barrel (a squib load) due to its proximity to the bullet. At some point prior to the fatal scene, the live primer in one of the improperly constructed dummy rounds was fired by an unknown person while in the pistol, leaving the bullet to travel the length of the gun to be stuck in its barrel by the force of being so closely proximate. To this day, many questions exist regarding the circumstances of Lee’s death.

This malfunction went unnoticed by the crew, and the same gun was later reloaded with blank cartridges and used in the scene in which Lee was shot. When the first blank cartridge was fired, the force of the primer, though no longer close to the bullet, was able to propel the stuck bullet out of the barrel a new distance greater than the length of the gun and it struck Lee in the abdomen, lodging in his spine. He fell down instantly, and director Alex Proyas shouted “Cut!”. When Lee did not get up, the cast and crew rushed to him and found that he was wounded. He was immediately rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington by ambulance, but following a six-hour operation to remove the bullet, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:04 p.m. on March 31, 1993. He was 28 years old.

Lee’s body was flown to Jacksonville, North Carolina, where an autopsy was performed. He was then flown to Seattle, Washington, where he was buried next to his father at Lakeview Cemetery, Seattle in a plot that Linda Lee Cadwell had originally reserved for herself.

The private funeral took place in Seattle on April 3, 1993. Only close family and friends were permitted to attend, including Lee’s immediate family as well as fiancée Eliza Hutton’s parents and younger sister, who flew in from Missouri. The following day, 250 of Lee’s family, friends and business associates attended a memorial service in Los Angeles, held at the house of actress Polly Bergen.

The gravestone, designed by North Snohomish County sculptor Kirk McLean, is a tribute to Lee and Hutton. Its two twisting rectangles of charcoal granite join at the bottom and pull apart at the top. “It represents Eliza and Brandon, the two of them, and how the tragedy of his death separated their mortal life together”, said his mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, who described her son, like his father before him, as a poetic, romantic person. The shooting was ruled an accident.

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