Jim Kelly dead: Enter the Dragon star dies of cancer at the age of 67
Actor and karate expert Jim Kelly, who starred with Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, has died at the age of 67.
Jim Kelly became famed for his cool one-liners and fight scenes as the charismatic Williams in the 1973 martial arts classic.
His other films included Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way, Golden Needles and the Black Samurai.
Marilyn Dishman, Jim Kelly’s ex-wife, said he died on Saturday of cancer at his home in California.
Enter the Dragon is considered to be one of the most popular kung fu films of all time, it was bruce Lee’s first film in the English language and was released days after his death at the age of 32.
In the 1980s, Jim Kelly re-trained as a professional tennis coach.
In an interview with the LA Times in 2010, Jim Kelly said: “I broke down the color barrier – I was the first black martial artist to become a movie star. It’s amazing to see how many people still remember that, because I haven’t really done much, in terms of movies, in a long time.”
He added: “I never left the movie business. It’s just that after a certain point, I didn’t get the type of projects that I wanted to do. I still get at least three scripts per year, but most of them don’t put forth a positive image.
“There’s nothing I really want to do, so I don’t do it. If it happens, it happens, but if not, I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished.”
Jim Kelly was born in Kentucky and began studying martial arts there in 1964 before moving to California.
By the end of the decade, Jim Kelly was teaching at his own karate school before sought out by Enter the Dragon producer Fred Weintraub, who had heard about his karate skills.
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