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Who Bruce Lee’s First Celebrity Student Was

Bruce Lee made a name for himself in Hollywood by teaching Kung Fu to the stars. Here’s who his first celebrity student was and how they met.

Bruce Lee He taught kung fu to a long list of celebrities, but who was the first to train under him? Long before his legendary rise to stardom, Lee made a name for himself in Hollywood by teaching kung fu to famous film actors, directors, screenwriters and musicians. Quite a few of his students were considered family names.

It was Lee’s role as a kung fu instructor that provided the majority of his income for much of the 1960s. Since Li was struggling to find acting work, he was able to devote a large amount of his time to training others in the philosophical and physical aspects of martial arts. During these years, Lee ran kung fu schools and taught his unique martial arts style, which is known today as Jeet Kune Do. Over time, he has attracted the attention of many Hollywood stars who are looking to learn from him. As a result, Lee formed long-term friendships and relationships with celebrities such as Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Roman Polanski, James Garner, Lee Marvin, Sterling Sylvant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Related Topics: Hollywood legends Bruce Lee and Frank Sinatra explained

according to Bruce Lee: Life By Matthew Polly Lee’s celebrity coaching fame began with Vic Damon. Damon, a big band singer and vocalist, was at the height of his popularity in the 1950s with hits like “You Breaking My Heart”, “My Heart Cries For You” and dozens of others. He also performed the title song for An affair to rememberShe hosted various programs and appeared in films from time to time.

Vic Damon

Until meeting Damon, Lee wasn’t able to recruit any celebrities. On the advice of others, Lee decided to raise his prices. Polly wrote in his book that only by charging a high fee was Lee able to attract the attention of Hollywood actors. This tactic paid off when celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring—a mutual acquaintance of both men—arranged a meeting between Lee and Damon after one of the latter’s shows in Las Vegas. Damon, who was familiar with boxing but not kung fu, developed an appreciation for Lee’s personal martial arts style and took lessons from it for a year. Polly wrote in his book that by Damon’s own admission, his singing career actually benefited from the time he spent with Lee. Damon said the relaxation techniques he gained from Lee helped him become a better singer.

Training with Damon, traveling in Hollywood circles, and developing his reputation as a skilled martial artist has greatly elevated Lee’s image. Even first-class Hollywood viewers like McQueen and Coburn wanted to learn Jeet Kune Do and started paying for kung fu lessons. Within a few months, Vic Damon is gone from Bruce Lee A famous student only to one of many.

More: Why Bruce Lee Wanted to Teach Paul Newman Kung Fu

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