Bruce Lee died a month before the release of Enter the Dragon (1973), the movie which turned him into an international icon. His fame was almost entirely posthumous. Unlike James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, he lacked a well-defined celebrity persona. To satisfy fans ravenous for details about his life, dozens of special edition magazines and quickie biographies were cranked out, filled with fictionalized accounts of his heroic deeds. Many of these tall tales were cemented in the public’s consciousness by the Hollywood biopic, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993).
Shockingly, no one had ever, until now, written a comprehensive biography of the most famous Asian-American in the world. Most of the information about Bruce was spread out across martial arts magazines, self-published memoirs, and low budget documentaries — few providing sourcing for their claims. The legend had become fact, so they printed the legend. Over the course of seven years and over a hundred interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, Matthew Polly set out to uncover the man buried beneath the legend. He reveals in a talk, based on his new book, the real Bruce Lee—his weaknesses, strengths, failures, and triumphs that made him an inspirational figure to millions of fans across the globe.
Speaker: Matthew Polly
Matthew Polly is the national bestselling author of American Shaolin and Tapped Out. His latest book, Bruce Lee: A Life, was praised as “definitive” by The New York Times Book Review, “authoritative” by The Los Angeles Times, and “a roundhouse kick of a biography” by The Sunday Times of London.
A Princeton University graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Matthew spent two years studying kung fu at the Shaolin Temple in Henan, China. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Esquire, Slate, Playboy, New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and The Nation. He has discussed his work on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, the Leonard Lopate Show, and National Public Radio shows including On Point, Morning Edition, Only a Game, and 1A. He is a fellow at Yale University and lives with his wife and young son in New Haven, Connecticut.