What was Bruce Lee’s cause of death? Matthew Polly, the author of the excellent new biography “Bruce Lee: A Life,” has a strange, sad, and entirely plausible explanation.
Polly digs deep into how Lee died in our new “Shoot This Now” podcast, which you can listen to on iTunes or right here.
The cause of Bruce Lee’s death is one of the most confounding questions in his spectacular life: How did a 32-year-old man who exercised constantly and was known for toned physique suddenly die? Misinformation abounds.
Google “How did Bruce Lee die” and you’ll receive, thanks to Quora, the most common answer: cerebral edema. A cerebral edema is an excess accumulation of fluid in the brain that can cause seizures, coma, and even respiratory arrest.
Lee collapsed on May 10, 1973, while recording dialogue for his film, “Enter the Dragon.” He was taken to a Hong Kong hospital where doctors diagnosed him with cerebral edema. So it is probably not surprising that when Lee died suddenly on July 20, 1973, another Hong Kong hospital reported that cerebral edema was the cause of death.
A Hong Kong inquest later found Lee’s cause of death to be “death by misadventure,” a type of accidental death that involves a degree of bad luck. That finding included the possibility that one factor in Lee’s death was his decision to take a drug called Equagesic, which contained aspirin and a tranquilizer.