Celebrity deaths often take the spotlight but some remain a mystery, spawning conspiracy theories and gossip that can continue for years after the event.
One such lingering mystery involves kung fu legend Bruce Lee, who passed away more than 40 years ago. There is now a new documentary on the action star called Be Water. And people are turning their attention once again to Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei, who was with Lee when he died.
Lee was 32 when he passed away in 1973. Raymond Chow, his business partner, told media that the movie star passed away at his residence and that his wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, was with him.
It turned out not to be true. Lee passed away in the Hong Kong apartment of Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei and Chow lied about it to avoid scandal. There have been rumours that Ting murdered Lee, while some people thought Chow was responsible. Some others have blamed Chinese triads or Japanese ninjas.
The official cause of Lee’s death was cerebral edema, the swelling of the brain. The author of Lee’s biography, Matthew Polly, thought that heatstroke caused the swelling that killed him. The martial arts star had gone through an operation to remove sweat glands. It was a hot day when he died. The media blamed an aspirin allergy for his death. Nevertheless, Betty Ting Pei could not have been the one responsible.
The actress denied for years that she had been in a relationship with Lee. In a 2006 interview, however, she said that they have been dating for more than a year when he died.
Ting was watching television when Lee went to lie on her bed on the day he died. When she could not wake him up half an hour later, she became hysterical and called Chow. Knowing that the situation would look bad to the media, Chow dressed Lee up before contacting a doctor. The latter tried to resuscitate Lee for 10 minutes before giving up and declaring him dead.
Ting was a rising star at the time Lee died. She had signed on to the Shaw Brothers Studio in Hong Kong in 1968. She also starred in a few movies. After Lee’s death, however, her career suffered due to the ensuing backlash.
Ting continued to act until the 1980s including in some English films such as The Lost Generation and My Name Ain’t Suzie.
People still associate her name with Lee’s death. She is 73 and believed to be living either in Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Raymond Chow was 91 when he died in Hong Kong in 2018./TISG
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