A trove of hand-written letters apparently written by Bruce Lee reveals that the king fu superstar was heavily involved in illegal drugs and frequently requested they be shipped illegally to him in Hong Kong.
The letters, which are currently on auction, have been documented as authentic by the auction house and chronicle Lee’s ongoing requests to have illegal narcotics, like cocaine, sent to him by mail.
Bloody Elbow reports:
By 1972, as Lee left the US and moved to Hong Kong, the letters included requests to Baker for “advice on the possibility of shipping some coke to me.”
Hong Kong had very strict drug laws, but he supposedly proposed a plan on shipping drugs to an address under the name “Wu Ngan,” and hiding the contraband inside books and clothes. Wu Ngan was one of Lee’s friends, who had a role in his 1972 movie, The Way of the Dragon.
In one letter authenticated by Heritage Auctions to be from Lee, the writer ordered “COKE (in large amount),” “ACID (in fair amount)” and “HASH OR GRASS,” before also inquiring about procuring “psilocybin” — commonly known as magic mushrooms — after supposedly reading about it in a book.
“Baker” is Bob Baker, an actor, co-star, and close friend of Lee’s starting in 1964, straight through the actor’s untimely death at age 32 in 1973.
Baker died in 1993 at age 53.
In the letters, there are countless examples of this illegal behavior, including letters that appear to show Linda Lee (Lee’s wife and surviving widow) was involved [emphasis is Bloody Elbow’s]:
April 16, 1973
Dear Bob, Its been quite a while since you’ve written. I assume you have received the money order for $500 and I am wondering if you have sent the C yet. Please let me know right away because if you did not receive the money order, then I will have to talk to the bank to put a tracer on it.
How are you all doing? We hope things are straightening out for you. Say thanks to Bev for taking the risk and sending the last shipment to Bruce. Don’t worry about Bruce using the C — he is not going overboard.
Write very soon and let us know about the $500 money order and/or when the C is coming.
Here’s another Linda apparently wrote on March 30, 1973:
Well, forget about your making some money out of the last orders. I’ve bought a gram measurer and enclosed you will find the $500 for the amount of C you quote that Bruce can get. I’ll measure it but the quality (that goes without saying) plus the quantity Bruce himself will have to judge. I hope you will send him the mostest along with the one oz of H. oil and/or whatever.
Bruce Lee’s alleged letters were not very subtle:
November 22, 1972:
…One thing you have to do is to air-mail me some fine “C” if you can swing it.
December 11, 1972:
Air-mail me some Coca-Cola — do it the way you and I sincerely feel — in other word, whatever. Be cool about the package. Same procedure, Wu Ngan — “quality! man”
Sometime in 1972:
“Cooly” send some Coke — How’s everything? Stoned as hell, but am working on the upcoming character. Some coke would help in the formation and [illegible] I want to create.
This doesn’t really come as a surprise.
Lee’s marijuana use has never been a secret. He believed weed took him to another consciousness level, or some shit, and was a heavy user. So it’s not like this news will knock anyone over with a feather, especially when we’re talking about the 60s and 70s and a young man in the movie-making business.
One letter, however, appears to show Lee had a problem and was worried about it:
I told Linda to call you to forget about the ‘stuff’ because I really don’t need them in my training. I feel that I have ‘gained’ in trying them, but excessive indulgence of them just isn’t in my road in Jeet Kune Do.
As a lifelong Bruce Lee fan, this doesn’t change my perception of the man. The womanizing and drugs already came with the package. Heavier drugs use a big whatever. Bruce Lee was no Kung Fu Jesus. We already knew that. There’s also no indication her he was dealing. This was about personal use.
Honestly, the only thing I’ve ever discovered about Lee that altered my perception is that, unlike the “legend,” Lee actually grew up wealthy in a household with chauffeurs.
The drug revelations might, though, continue to fuel speculation about Lee’s untimely death. For the record, that issue is settled for me. There’s no proof it was an overdose and plenty of proof it was heatstroke. Lee was training like mad, died on the hottest day of the year, and had foolishly (and vainly) had the sweat glands under his arms removed.
However, this news can aid Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino, who’s been bullied by Lee’s middle-aged daughter for two years now.
One of Once Up a Time’s best scenes portrays an arrogant Bruce Lee holding court about how great he is. Lee’s daughter has been whining about this ever since, including last week, when she basically smeared Tarantino as a racist.
If it comes up again, Tarantino should just say that Lee’s daughter is lucky he didn’t portray Lee as a junkie drug smuggler.