NPR : News

Jim Kelly, Actor In 'Enter The Dragon,' Dies

Jim Kelly, who rose to fame in the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon and went on to star in several blaxploitation films, has died. He was 67.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reported on Kelly's death for our Newscast unit. Here's what he said:

"Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way and Black Samurai — all starring Jim Kelly as an African-American martial arts master — busy looking good in a funky Afro.

"Kelly's break-out role was in the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.

"It's a favorite of martial arts film fan Christopher Scott of Brooklyn, N.Y.: 'If it wasn't for him, there wouldn't be any other martial arts in different colors.'

"According to his ex-wife, Jim Kelly died of cancer on Saturday at home in San Diego."

In recent years, The Associated Press notes, Kelly drew "lines of autograph seekers at comic book conventions.

Kelly began training in martial arts in 1964 in Kentucky. He got his black belt five years later in San Diego. He told Salon in a 2010 interview that that was when he had to decide what to do with his life:

"I said, 'What will make me happy?' I said, 'I need to make a lot of money, I need to be very famous, and I need to be motivational for kids.' Since I wasn't going to play professional football, and I was a very good football player. I played college football and I could have gone on to play pro. Since I wasn't going to do that, how was I going to get these needs of mine met? I said, 'Why don't I become an actor?' What I had to do was become world karate champion and use that as a stepping stone and maybe get into the movies."

He told Salon that working with Lee "was one of the best experiences in my life."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Sweet Name Of Kids' Clinic Gives Some People Heartburn

The Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic gets its name from a student-run charity race in Raleigh, N.C., that has already raised $1 million for kids. Still, some find the name unhealthy.

Americans Don't Disagree On Politics As Much As You Might Think

Everyone knows that distrust of Washington at near-record levels and that Congress has grown more polarized. But what's going on with American voters is more complicated than you may realize.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.