Bruce Lee

Essay by Pat TanseyHigh School, 10th gradeA+, March 1996

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Bruce Lee was born in the Chinese year of the dragon, in the hour of the dragon on November 27, 1940. From the beginning, it was obvious he was a remarkable and unique child with tremendous energy. His mother named him Lee Jun Fan, which meant 'return again.' She felt he would return to the United States where he was born while his parents were on tour with the Cantonese opera. A nurse suggested he be called Bruce as an American name for him.


Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco at the Jackson Street Hospital in Chinatown. When he and his family returned to Hong Kong in 1941, he was called Sai Fon, which meant 'small phoenix', a feminine name. Bruce had an older brother who died as a baby. The Chinese blamed this on evil spirits or demons who take the lives of male babies to destroy the family's name.

So they dressed Bruce in little girls clothing and called him Sai Fon.

When they returned to Hong Kong, the Lee household consisted of Mr. Lee, his wife Grace Lee, Bruce's two sisters, Agnes and Phoebe, his older brother Peter, and later to be joined his little brother Robert.

Bruce grew up in a very crowded house. He lived in a two bedroom flat. Upon the death of Mr. Lee's brother, he, as in Chinese custom, had to taken in his whole brother's Family and had to be the provider. This meant nearly 20 people lived in the flat.

It was through his father's connection that Bruce ultimately became a child film star. His own acting ability was clear from the beginning. Bruce posed as a great natural actor and possessed a great natural ability for acting. His father used to take him backstage.