Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee: Complicated Tinseltown frenemies

Here a navy blue crew-neck sweater-clad Steve McQueen participates in a racing event in Southern California in the mid-1960s
Here a navy blue crew-neck sweater-clad Steve McQueen participates in a racing event in Southern California in the mid-1960s
“Bruce Lee: A Life” ink slinger Matthew Polly delves into the deadly nunchucks expert’s relationship with Steve McQueen in an exclusive interview. Here a navy blue crew-neck sweater-clad King of Cool participates in a racing event in Southern California in the mid-1960s. The Persol sunglasses were famously wore by McQueen in “The Thomas Crown Affair.” McQueen’s widow Barbara Minty sold her pair for $70,000 at the 2006 Bonhams & Butterfields auction held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Bruce Lee also took a liking to the Persol brand. Image Credit: The Estate of Steve McQueen

The Matthew Polly Interview, Part One

Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, and karate-traditional weaponry expert Fumio Demura at a 1968 California martial arts exhibition.
Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee, and karate-traditional weaponry expert Fumio Demura at a 1968 California martial arts exhibition.
According to Bruce Lee in conversations with Canadian journalist Pierre Berton, “As a fighter, Steve McQueen is good in that department because that son of a gun has toughness in him. He will say, ‘Alright baby, here I am.’ And he will do it.” Above, McQueen, Lee, and karate-traditional weaponry expert Fumio Demura likely attend a California martial arts exhibition circa 1968. Trivia time — Demura was the fight double for Pat Morita in “The Karate Kid” blockbuster franchise. Image Credit: The Fumio Demura Collection / as seen in “The Real Miyagi” documentary
Steve McQueen attentively listens to a seated companion while Bruce Lee happily signs autographs for two middle school boys
Steve McQueen attentively listens to a seated companion while Bruce Lee happily signs autographs for two middle school boys
Steve McQueen attentively listens to a seated companion while Bruce Lee happily signs autographs for two middle school boys, who probably could not pass up the opportunity to approach the Green Hornet’s faithful companion Kato, in an alternate, very rare color shot from the same California martial arts exhibition circa 1968. Lee told student and eventual Black Belt magazine founder Mito Uyehara, “Steve would be damned good if he could work out more, but the sonovagun never stays home. If he’s shooting, he’ll be stuck at a location for as long as five months, returning for a couple of days in between. If he’s not working, he’ll be somewhere in the desert, driving his dune buggy or motorcycle.” Image Credit: The Fumio Demura Collection

DON’T GO ANYWHERE YET! In PART TWO of the Matthew Polly / Bruce Lee interview, the Shaolin temple alumnus relives his sole trip to a late night couch courtesy of CBS’s “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”

Dapper “Fist of Fury” star Bruce Lee reclines in April 1972 aboard the MS Coral Princess cruise liner in Hong Kong
Dapper “Fist of Fury” star Bruce Lee reclines in April 1972 aboard the MS Coral Princess cruise liner in Hong Kong
A black laced up leisure shirt, gray slacks, Persol sunglasses, and gaudy two-tone Spectator Wingtip Oxford shoes complete the wardrobe of a dapper Bruce Lee in April 1972. The Jeet Kune Do founder was relishing a sunny afternoon in a wooden deck chair aboard the MS Coral Princess cruise liner docked at the Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Many shots were taken during this photo shoot — his “Big Boss” and “Fist of Fury” costars Nora Miao and Maria Yi were also present —to promote Lee as an upcoming actor in Golden Movie News, a Raymond Chow-owned Golden Harvest studio magazine. Sincere thanks to Bruce Lee Lives! Tribute Forum member “Iconesk” for providing crucial details. Image Credit: The Estate of Bruce Lee

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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