Tom Bleecker Q&A
The following was taken place in the Temple Discussion on 03/07/01 between regular vistitors of this site (Jt, Drunken Master, Jimmy, Davis Miller, Medicine Man, Jennifer, Nick Clarke, J Black, Blairo, Normz, Babu, Simon Kenny, Jason H, Toayb Hamidi, Kevin, Deron and Terry Mayes) along with Mr Tom Bleecker.
Temple of the Unknown: Hello, and welcome Mr. Bleecker we are glad that you decided to join us here in the Temple of Discussion for a Q&A session. We hope that your visit here is a pleasant one and not your last.
Temple of the Unknown: John Little's unattributed use of the works of Jidu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, Eric Hoffer, Napoleon Hill, and others in "Bruce Lee's" writings is actual plagiarism or initial simple ignorance that Little now can't back out of? Bruce Lee was obviously not a person of small ego. (In my opinion, it was precisely that unbridled ego that killed him when he was so young.) But do you find John Little's and Linda Lee-Cadwell's perpetration of Bruce Lee as a supermanmartialmonkovercomingabstemer to be contradictory to what Lee himself was saying/doing in his own lifetime? If so, would you please elaborate on the reasons you believe Ms. Lee-Cadwell and Mr. Little have so ardently pursued this course? Thanks loads, Tom. I recognize how tough it is to speak out against Linda Lee-Cadwell's "official" version of her dead husband.
Tom Bleecker: I have to give John Little the benefit of the doubt and feel that he did not purposely plagiarize these great works of others. That said, it surely does indicate a degree of sloppy research. At the very least someone could have run a simple search engine on Eric Hoffer's titles which would have instantly come up in the Library of Congress. As to the perpetuation of the "Saint Bruce" superhuman image, I can only guess at John Little's motive. Probably financial but more likely related to his statement that he has watched ETD over 500 times. I get the sense that he is obsessed with Bruce, which is never healthy. As to Linda, her primary motive in life has never been turning a dollar. In fact, while I was married to her she was getting up every weekday morning and teaching elementary school in Torrance at a teacher's salary and a whole lot of headaches. But she loved her work. And I can assure you she didn't need the money at that time. Many people don't know that she also ran a marathon. Those who know this drive in Linda readily identify it as a credit to her character. That aside, I have always felt that Linda's primary objective in maintaining and promoting this super image of Bruce has to do with a feeling of duty she has to her own family and future generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Linda has always had a sense of family. Over the years I've read allegations that Linda abandoned Bruce's mother and did not provide for her. This is a completely false statement. Linda on many occasions provided for Grace Lee quite adequately.
Temple of the Unknown: Hello, Mr Bleecker,
- What in your opinion was the the purpose of the Warrior dream sequence in Dragon?
- Did Linda change anything from the Dragon film from what she wrote about Lee in her book?
- Why would the G.o.D footage briefly appear in the early 70's only to never be used again?
Tom Bleecker: I have no idea as to the purpose, if any, of the Warrior dream sequence in Dragon. A great majority of the film was different from Linda's book. Time sequences were one issue that has been raised. Also, the movie depicts Bruce as writing the Tao of JKD while he was alive. Then, of course, there's that horrifying traction apparatus that looks like it was designed by Dr. Letchner. I don't have an answer about the G.O.D. footage from the 70s.
Temple of the Unknown: I 'm sorry I have not yet read your book but I know you talk about steroids,could you fill us in on BL's use of roids and the time period he used them? Also you trained with BL how did you feel that his style changed over the years and did you feel he was as good as his peer for that time?
Tom Bleecker: I've talked about the steroids already, so I'll address your next question. My primary relationship with Bruce was more of a friendship that centered around the Hollywood film industry. While I did work out with him on occasion, I was for the most part satisfied with my kenpo journey under the guidance of Ed Parker. As to Bruce's skills, I agree with Ed Parker that Bruce was one in two million. As to his peers, I think he could surely hold his own on the mats and in tournaments. With regard to the street is anyone's guess. Many years ago I recall asking Ed Parker who he thought would win in a streetfight between Bruce Lee and Joe Lewis. At the time Joe Lewis was winning big on the tournament circuit. Ed Parker thought for a moment and then said, "I think Joe would be too much for Bruce to handle in the street." The fact that Ed had to think over my question is in itself a supreme compliment to Bruce. Around that time I don't think too many martial artists were on a par with Joe Lewis. He was, and probably still, is an exceptional athlete in his own right.
Temple of the Unknown: Hello Tom and thanx for coming to this forum to answer some of our questions. What I want to ask you is:
Q1) Am I correct if I say that you doubt that Bruce Lee had his back severly injured and had to stay in bed for six months? I read this somewhere, but I am not 100% if this was your statement. If I am wrong, please forget this question and move on to the next one. If it is true, I would like to ask you what you think would have been the purpose of Linda to lie about this in the book she wrote together with you.
Q2) This is a personal question and you do not have to answer it: Are you still on speaking terms with Linda Lee? Or with Shannon?
Q3) The impression that I get from reading your articles and reviews of your book is that you try to put effort into tearing down the legendary status of Bruce Lee. There are two reasons as to why you could be doing this: a. You want to stop people from 'giving Bruce parades' (which he was against himself, which would be the only legitimate reason in my opinion) or b: You have a dislike for Linda Lee since the two of you divorced and try to get back at her by working against her (which could also be the case, especially to Bruce Lee admirers)
Q4) You said that if there is one thing you would re-write about UM it would be the steroid-part. What would you change?
Q5) What do you think of the work of the Nuclues and do you ever have contact with some of the people herein?
Q6) What in your opinion would be a good and honest way to pay sincere tribute to the work of Bruce Lee?
Tom Bleecker: The mention of Bruce having severely injured his back was made by Linda in 1973 in her book "The Man Only I Knew" - which was 15 years before I came along. I chose not to refute her statement in our 1988 book for obvious reasons. My reasons for writing UM are clearly stated in the final chapter of the book. Generally speaking my sense is that some people try to read too much into this. While writing UM I wore the hat of a biographer. I didn't write the book in the first person. It wasn't my personal memoirs. My primary task was to give a full and truthful accounting of the life and death of Bruce Lee as I came to uncover the facts. It was just that simple. Quite frankly, I personally feel that Bruce's real live story is far more compelling and profound than the one in "Dragon" for example. A famous man once said, "A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent." I think there's some truth to that. I would rewrite the steroid aspect of UM because too many people got sidetracked. The issue was not about Bruce having an unfair advantage or being dishonest. People who use anabolic steroids still have to do the workouts. Olympic and professional athletes have used them for decades; so have martial artists and bodybuilders. The reason I focused on Lee's use of steroids was primarily to bring some understanding to negative reactions Bruce was having that portrayed him as a violent man and a bully. Bruce was neither. The reality is something was going on with him physically and emotionally that he could neither understand or control. To me knowing about his use of steroids brought Lee back into the King Row, but too many people became sidetracked. For what it's worth, during the writing of UM, I personally cycled steroids, and the result was that everything that happened to Bruce happened to me. I'll never take them again. With regard to the Nucleus, I'm sure they are doing some good work in Bruce's name. That said, I personally am skeptical about corporations and trademarks and licensing fees and all that. There seems to be an obvious financial predominence. How would I suggest paying tribute to Bruce -- speak the truth and express yourself. Isn't that all he asked of everyone, including himself?
Temple of the Unknown: 1) Did Brandon or Shannon ever question all the stuff that Davis mentioned i.e. the "image" that the Little/Cadwell machine has (re)produced over the past decade? Did Brandon have any intentions of investigating B.Lee's death further i.e. exhuming his father's remains, etc.
2) Why do YOU think Bruce Lee was/is/shall be the HERO that he is? The Cadwell/Little material has only been around for a decade along with all that so-called "negative" information. What has Bruce Lee done for TOM BLEECKER?
Tom Bleecker: I personally do not know Brandon's reaction to John Little's commercialism of Bruce. That said, I can tell you that Brandon was much like his father in that he did not like BS and spoke out vehemently against it. With regard to his father's death, Brandon did state that he intended to reopen the case after filming "The Crow." When I was married to Linda, Brandon used to spend hours privately looking over his father's file. I think there will always be interest in both the "hero" Bruce Lee as well as a truthful accounting of his life and death. As to what Bruce Lee has done for me, I presume you're making reference to UM. Generally speaking it has been a favorable and rewarding experience. While there have been negative reactions, I do highly value all the positive response I've received.
Temple of the Unknown: 1) When did BL start using steroids because in Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon there's a HUGE difference, particulary in the abs and chest areas???
2) What are you views on BL's death, I haven't read UM yet, I believe he was poisoned, do you know if the poison was definately given to him in two parts, please tell us as much as you can about his death, I've been told that you're the top guy to ask.
3) Finally what can you tell us about your book "Tea Money", a friend told me to ask you as he was working and might not make it.
Tom Bleecker: I can't tell you the exact date Bruce began experimenting with steroids, but in the late 60s. With regard to Bruce Lee's death, we now know that the Inquest was a sham. Personally I feel that he was either poisoned or died of adrenal failure, a severe medical emergency. "Tea Money" is a book I have finished that addresses the continuing Triad financial interest in the commercialism of Bruce Lee.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi Tom, many thanks for taking the time out to visit the forum, I have some questions for you Tom.
Q1) You mention in UM that near the end of his life Bruce was drinking quite heavily, can you elaborate, what he was drinking and how frequently etc.
Q2) A very controversial question and I do apologise but do you think/is it possible that Linda knows more about Bruce's death than she has previously said?
Q3) Just how slippery and slimey was/is Raymond Chow and DID he have any involvement in the demise of Bruce?
Q4) Do you have any plans for a future book on Bruce?
Q5) Did anyone ever take you up on the reward you offered for disproving anything in UM?
Q6) Did you leave anything out of UM because you thought that it was just TOO much?
Tom Bleecker: With regard to Bruce's drinking, the reference was to alcohol. It has been reported by other biographers. I think it was truly the least of his worries around that time frame.
I would agree with the suggestion that Linda Lee knows more about Bruce's death than she has made public, yes.
I have never met Raymond Chow, but he did avoid me while I was in Hong Kong researching the book. I know that his attorneys who threatened me with civil litigation were anything but cordial. And I would add that while I was married to Linda, she had nothing to do with him and did not speak favorably of the man. I do not have plans for a future book on Bruce, at least not one of nonfiction. No one ever took me up on my $25,000 Challenge. Yes, there were some things left out of UM because I felt they went beyond the scope of the book.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi Tom! Hope all is going well with you.
These are more like philosophical questions:
Q1) What do you feel the public can gain by getting a more complete picture of Bruce Lee?
Q2) What do you feel we can learn by examining the mistakes he committed?
Q3) Why do you think some 'fans' are upset by the possibility that Bruce used anabolic steroids and may not have died due to hypersensitivity to equagesic?
Thanks a lot.
Tom Bleecker: In my opinion there is no greater power on the face of the earth than the pure, unadulterated truth. During his adult lifetime Bruce demanded the truth of everyone around him as well as himself. I can't say why some fans are upset about Bruce's use of anabolic steroids. To me it was a relief to discover this aspect because it gave reason to many things that were going on with him that disturbed me. As to the Equagesic matter, well it's fantasy and we all deal with that in our own way.
Temple of the Unknown: Tom, I am puzzled by the Way of the Dragon chapter in UM. You said that the film was a box-office disaster in Hong Kong, but all other books on Lee I have seen claim that it smashed the previous records (held by Bruce's previous two films) and grossed well over five million HK dollars, making it Lee's highest grossing film up until that point by some margin. I just wondered why you thought this? I can't believe Bruce's popularity in HK would have waned that much in just a few months.
Tom Bleecker: The box office grosses reported in UM with regard to Way of the Dragon and other films were taken directly from Lee's Estate settlement as filed with the United States Tax Court. Those figures were supplied directly by Raymond Chow of Golden Harvest
Temple of the Unknown: Have you ever thought about making a documentary on the life of Bruce Lee based on your book?
Tom Bleecker: Making UM into a documentary has been raised on several occasions. Say, where's George Tan, anyway?
Temple of the Unknown: Based on your experiece with Bruce Lee, what do you think of him as a martial arist, as a human being,as a actor, and most important of all for you as a friend? I have not read your book but i will buy it soon. Also what was your best and worst experience with him,what was your reaction when you first saw him and when and how did you found about his did and how it feel to you? more q's to come, I thank you for your time to answer this.
Tom Bleecker: Bruce as a martial artist? I like what he used to say. He often said he wasn't saying he was number one, but he wouldn't admit to being number two either. I think he was probably one or the other, depending on when and where. As a human being - the same as all of us, friend - human, and none of us can do better than that. As an actor - average. Personally I think his true creative potential was in directing. In my opinion Bruce would have been the first million dollar Asian director in Hollywood. Directing was his true excellence because he would have been profound at getting actors to "express themselves." I'm not sure I could have ever gotten close enough to Bruce to become a "good or best friend." He just wasn't that kind of guy. But I got closer than most. I did admire him and valued my time with him. In many ways we were having the same struggles in Hollywood. My worst experience with Bruce was the day he kicked me the length of a swimming pool. It still hurts to think about. The best day was the afternoon I took him to MGM and watched him pulverize Ryan O'Neal. The day Bruce died I was at the home of Blake Edwards and his wife. In a word I was shocked. Still am to a degree.
Temple of the Unknown: Is it true that Bruce Lee had a collection of Bongs (crack pipes)?
Tom Bleecker: I wouldn't say Bruce had a "collection" of bongs. He did have a collection of Playboys, however!
Temple of the Unknown: Hi Tom, I enjoyed your book very much and would like to ask you a few questions about it :-
Q1) Page 68 - You say that Lo Wei stated that Bruce Lee was always using other people's medicine, which included injections on the set of the Big Boss. Could you please explain more about this and your sources?
Q2) Page 71 - You state that Bob Baker was Bruce's drug supplier and was in Hong Kong on the evening that Bruce Lee died. Could you expand on this please?
Q3) What could cause the high kidney BUN value of 92 mg per 100ml of blood that was recorded at Baptist Hospital on May 10th, 1973 other than poisoning?
Q4) I've heard some rumours lately that George Lazenby was also at Betty Ting Pei's flat on the day that Bruce died. Did you ever interview Lazenby?
Q5) Did Linda tell you herself that she smuggled a knife from the room after Bruce's police incident with Lo Wei on July 10th, 1973?
Q6) Did you ever track down Wu Ngam and what in your opinion was his role in Bruce's death?
Tom Bleecker: Right off hand I cannot recall the source of the Lo Wei comment, but it would be in my files. Actually there would have to be a primary source and two verifications for me to have printed it. Bobby Baker wasn't so much Bruce's drug supplier as he was the one who transported medications and such from the United States. There's a difference. About the high BUN reading, poison would be the primary suspicion. I never interviewed George Lazenby. Yes, Linda did tell me that she quietly removed the knife from the screening room that day. I don't think it makes much difference, however. Bruce was clearly out of control and many present saw the knife. No one wanted Bruce taken to jail. No, I never found Wu Ngan. I don't think he had anything to do with Bruce's death. I think Wu Ngan knew things that were detrimental to the ongoing insurance depositions and was threatening to come forward if not paid off.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi, I confess I haven't read your book - I've never seen it available up here - so I can't really ask you specifics...but I'm just wondering - Do you think there is such a thing as a "Good Bruce Lee Fan" and a "Bad Bruce Lee Fan" and how do you draw the line? Or is any fan a good one?
Tom Bleecker: An excellent question. Herein has been the line drawn in the sand, so to speak, with regard to UM. Generally speaking the book has been well received in the martial arts community and in particular with those who knew Bruce personally. Almost without exception my negative responses have come from Bruce's "fans." There's nothing particularly wrong with this, but I've had to embrace the notion that fans don't come from the same place as peers and those who view Bruce on a level playing field. For what it may be worth, keep in mind that the word "fan" is a derivative of "fantasy and fanatic." And, no I don't think there is much difference between a good and bad fan. By nature, fans need celebrities. If one grows tired with Bruce, he or she will simply find another celebrity.
Temple of the Unknown: Hello Mr. Bleecker, When you were married to Linda, I understand that you helped her write her book. Did you try to be truthful about Bruce at that time?(in regards to the real Bruce) Also how open was Linda discussing Bruce's "flaws" with you and those in her private circle?
Tom Bleecker: I think it is important to realize that at the time I came onboard with "The Bruce Lee Story" Linda was up against a deadline and had been pay a substantial advance. So our primary focus was to get the book finished on time. This wasn't destined to win a Pulitzer Prize. Also, one must not overlook the reality that Linda and I had entered into a budding romance and for that reason alone Bruce was not our primary focus.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi again Tom When you interviewed Betty, did she reveal any new information about July 20th and wouldn't Bruce be having a violent fit re swelling of the brain and not sleeping peacefully as Betty claimed. Did you question her about this statement?
Tom Bleecker: From what I have been told by doctors, Bruce would not have gone through a violent fit on July 20th as he did on May 10th. He would have simply fallen into a coma and died. This is because when he was brought to the ER at Baptist the doctors gave him a shot of cortisone that helped revive him. At Betty's he was not injected with cortisone.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi, I've been trying to figure out WHY Bruce could have been poisoned... Chow seems more evil the more you find out about him, with the success of ETD Bruce would have left HK behind and made his own films in the US without Chow, With BL being the best martial artists in and out of the film business the HK film industry would have been left standing. In fact it would have wrecked it... That DOES make sense as to WHY he could be murdered. Bruce was worth more dead than alive, thats all I was told, and thats WHY isn't it!!!!!!! So if many people were involved, it would be Linda for Bruce's affair with Betty (Maybe), and Chow, Lo Wei and most of the HK film industry for possible estroying their industry and since you couldn't kill him in combat, he'd need to be poisoned, and that I believe was done using a two part poison. Maybe taint his food, months before which would explain his sudden weight loss, then on 20th July he took part two of the Poison, Steroids, Equagesic??? That triggered the cerebral Adema, Thats my theory, do you think I'm on the right track??? Do you think Linda was involved if it was murder??? You don't have to answer that if you don't want to, but it'd be great if you could, Finally can you comment of Bruce's use of Hashish???
Tom Bleecker: I think the key to Bruce's death, if murder, is to follow the money trail. It's that simple. Second, if Bruce was murdered I personally feel that Linda had absolutley nothing to do with it. While their marriage was clearly troubled (a point brought out in DRAGON), Linda's primary focus at that time was her children. For Linda, children have always come first. So for this reason alone the thought of her being part of leaving her two small children fatherless is not within the realm of possibility. With regard to Bruce using marijuanna and hashish, not a big deal in my opinion. I was smoking it myself back then.
Temple of the Unknown: Hi Tom Hope you are in the best of health and in good spirits!. I have read your book, it was an outstanding piece of work and showed another side of Bruce Lee, which 'fans' are still afraid to know. At the same time, you dismantled all these 'little' fantasies and fables put out by Linda and company. It is good to hear that you "Kept it Real" and stood up against all the odds despite the threat of lawsuits and so forth. Several questions:
Q1) Is it true that the Chow and Linda lawsuit was dropped, as both these people who were very 'close' to Lee could not prove anything in your book to be false?
Q2) Robert Lee's own book on Bruce Lee and matters surrounding his death has been delayed for over 10 years because of "on going investigations". Did these "on going investigations" delay your book?
Q3) Did Lee's back injury happen as a result of love making or is Dragon the Bruce Lee story more accurate in showing how this injury came about?
Q4) Why do you feel that these little people did not take up your $25,000 challenge?
Q5) Did Linda ever talk about Betty Ting Pei?
Tom Bleecker: Personally I feel that Chow, Linda and Adrian did not proceed with their lawsuits because they could not prevail. In this country the truth is an absolute defense. To move forward with those lawsuits would have also opened them up to countersuits for the bringing of malicious lawsuits. Lastly, Beverly Hill dream team law firms do not like to lose in court, especially if the trial is publicized. With regard to Robert Lee's book, I don't know what is holding things up. And, no, his ongoing investigation did not hamper my research or publication. About the cause of Bruce's back injury common sense tells me that Bruce would have no reason to lie to the physicians who were treating him. And I do have all of Lee's medical records that quote his exact words. I think no one took me up on my $25,000 challenge because they didn't want to risk donating $25M to a charity of my chosing.
Temple of the Unknown: Tom What do you think of the way Dan Inosanto has handled the continuing development of Jeet Kune Do and what are your opinions on him not recognising the nucleus.
Tom Bleecker: I think Dan Inosanto has taken the only mature and reasonable course. Bruce Lee did not want Dan to live in his (Bruce's) shadow and instructed Dan to find his own path and to express himself. Moreover, I think some people overlook the fact that Dan Inosanto in his own right is a profound martial artist. Many feel he has exceeded the talent of Bruce Lee. As far as Dan not recognizing the Nucleus I think it was a wise choice. I have always had high regard for Dan, who in addition to being my friend is a brother in kenpo.
Temple of the Unknown: When you were married to Linda - did she ever talk about Raymond Chow (did she like, trust, hate him?) or open up about Bruce's death. In private did she reveal anything about triads being involved in Bruce's affairs? Her statement of holding no one responsible for Bruce's death before the autopsy had even been performed? etc....
Tom Bleecker: Linda did not talk about Raymond Chow, and we never sent him a Christmas card. As to Bruce's death, Linda did tell me that she never believed the autopsy or the inquest but saw no point in raising the issue.
Temple of the Unknown: Greetings Tom, Sometime ago you mention your new book "Tea Money" was ready to go to the publisher,or something along that line. What's the current stautus? I know you are a busy guy,and it's great you took time to drop in the forum. You book speaks volumes,and its very well read by me : ) All the best.
Tom Bleecker: Thanks for asking about "Tea Money". The book has gone through three edits and is in screenplay form as well. It's a tough story to tell, but I think I'm sending it back to my editor - one more time......
Temple of the Unknown: Hi, What was the most heart warming thing BL ever did for you, did he ever buy you anything expensive??? Also which of BL's many physical feats impressed you the most???
Tom Bleecker: The most heart-warming thing Bruce ever did for me is to invite me to have lunch with him, which he did on more than one occasion. Eating to Bruce was a special time, as we know from his Seattle years and from the recollections of Ed Parker and Ralph Castro. Of all of Bruce's physical feats that impressed me the most, it had to be his side kick. What an explosion of raw force.
Temple of the Unknown: According to what i have learned from other fans over the years, Bruce injured his back while lifting weights during a routine workout. this was in august of 1970 i think. it was not from any lovemaking or what was depicted in "Dragon" thats for sure.
Tom Bleecker: Say, does this mean you'd like to take up my $25,000 Challenge! I'm wondering after all this dialog about Bruce's back injury if it really matters how it happened considering the injury was superficial? Here's an update, for those who have been following Mr. Bishop's thrust: I recently sent a letter to Black Belt, Inside KungFu, and Karate International offering to make public these medical records and autopsy and forensics findings. The result was that I never heard back from Inside KungFu or Karate International, although Black Belt sent a letter politely declining. So, Mr. Bishop, wherever you are, I did try. Secondly, a couple months ago I exchanged a number of emails with George Tan and invited him to come to my home for dinner when next in Los Angeles. Moreover, I told him that while he was here I would gladly show him all the documentation with regard to Bruce's back injury. So it's in the works. George Tan is busy, but we'll get around to heating up the woks in Ojai!
Thank you all for having me by Tom Bleecker
I have truly enjoyed your questions and hope that I have been of some help in your understanding of a great man. I apologize for not personalizing all of my responses by signing off each one with gratitude and such, but I was trying to get to as many as possible. I do appreciate all of you taking the time to come and pose questions. This has been, as always, a learning experience for me.
All the best, Tom Bleecker
Want to email Tom Bleecker? CLICK HERE
For more info on Unsettled Matters, CLICK HERE
All of the questions and answers were compiled by JT