A story about a martial-arts hero with Seattle roots was Seattle Channel’s most-watched video online in 2014. The CityStream episode with the segment “Do You Know Bruce?” about the Bruce Lee exhibit at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum, received more than 17,000 plays. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it.
Behind the scenes, this was a fascinating shooting and editing process that spanned more than two weeks under the direction of one of our Emmy-winning photographer/editors Ralph Bevins. Ralph’s crazy about Bruce Lee films, which was great when we needed that perfect shot of a jumping high kick or one-inch punch. He’s seen them all! The last shot Ralph took could be the best, though: a moving, colorful shot of the Bruce Lee mural in Chinatown. But truly, what I thought would be a story all about action and flying fists turned into a heartfelt story about a real Seattle hero.
Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, and his daughter, Shannon Lee, spoke to us of the tender man they knew who grew up in Seattle studying philosophy at the UW and teaching kung fu just down the street from the Wing Luke. He was a pioneer in teaching martial arts to non-Chinese people—a very controversial practice at the time—but as Linda explained it, he didn’t judge anyone by race. In fact, he asked her out on their first date to the Space Needle after throwing her to the ground (gently, as she explains it) during a kung fu lesson! Lee’s daughter Shannon is working to establish a stand-alone Bruce Lee museum in Seattle as a tribute to her dad. The Wing exhibit features a number of pictures of Lee with his family along with fascinating pages of his writings and poetry.
Every person I interviewed about Lee, including his best friend, Taky Kimura, as well as Seattle City Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Nick Licata, saw him not as a martial arts superstar, but as a person who really expressed the culture of Seattle—to be open, generous and incredibly innovative.
If you haven’t watched the story or seen the exhibit, check them out. Both offer an up-close look at Bruce Lee’s story and how Seattle helped shape the person he would become. You’ll understand more about him and Seattle than you might have thought was possible. But then again, as Bruce Lee himself put it, “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
Brian Callanan is Seattle Channel’s public affairs host. He worked with photographer/editor Ralph Bevins to produce the segment about the Bruce Lee exhibit.