LONDON – Newly discovered letters from late martial arts icon Bruce Lee suggest that he was a secret drug user.
British tabloid The Sun reported last week that the handwritten letters to fellow actor Robert Baker showed he supplied Lee with drugs including cocaine, LSD and cannabis from 1969 until the star’s untimely death in 1973 at 32.
Baker, who co-starred with Lee in Fist Of Fury (1972), allegedly even shipped drugs from the United States to Hong Kong when Lee was filming there. Baker died in 1993.
In one letter, Lee wrote to ask Baker to send him “a large amount of cocaine”, saying he was “stoned as hell” but the drug could help him get into character for an upcoming movie role.
While he was filming Enter The Dragon in Hong Kong in 1973, his wife Linda Lee Cadwell reportedly wrote on his behalf to request drugs.
Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly, a 2018 biography about the star based on interviews with his friends, family and colleagues, alleged that Lee had enjoyed smoking weed and ingesting hash, but the newly discovered letters suggest that he also used hard drugs.
Cadwell allegedly wrote to Baker to reassure him: “Don’t worry about Bruce using the C – he is not going overboard.”
However, a month later, Lee suffered a seizure and collapsed.
A few weeks after the incident, he was found dead in his bed on July 20, 1973 with no visible external injury. According to autopsy reports, Lee’s brain had swollen considerably.
The letters were unearthed at a flea market and are being sold by American auction house Heritage Auctions, which said “these letters show he kept an explosive secret”. The letters have been authenticated by experts and will go under the hammer from Friday to Sunday (July 16 to 18).
Bids on individual letters range from US$600 (S$810) to more than US$10,000 and the auction house expects them to be sold for more than US$200,000.