Meet Linda Lee Cadwell, the wife of late actor and iconic martial artist Bruce Lee

40 Bruce Lee Quotes
40 Bruce Lee Quotes

Linda Lee Cadwell was born Linda Emery on 21 March 1945, and she is an American teacher, martial artist, and writer. She is the widow of martial arts master and actor Bruce Lee and the mother of late actor Brandon Lee and actress Shannon Lee. Cadwell married Bruce Lee in 1964 and had an active hand in founding and running the Bruce Lee Foundation, which promotes Bruce Lee’s philosophy on martial arts, his style – Jeet Kune Do – and his writings.

Linda wrote the famous biography “Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew” in 1975, and the 1993 film “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” was based on the book. She also wrote the book “The Bruce Lee Story” in 1989. 

Linda Lee Cadwell rose to fame as the widow of the iconic martial artist and Hollywood star Bruce Lee. However, in her own rights, she has made quite a name for herself as a writer, former kindergarten teacher, and martial arts enthusiast. Although she moved on with life and has married other people since his passing, Linda has done well to continue to uphold the legacy of her widely celebrated late husband.

There is no gainsaying how loved the late Bruce Lee was and still is. This, in a way, has been extended to Linda, especially as she has kept his legacy intact through her works. In return, Linda has piqued the interest of people and they are keen to know more about her. We will now take a closer look into her life, work, and achievements after Bruce Lee death. First, here are ten facts about her.

10 facts about Linda Lee Cadwell

  1. Linda Lee Cadwell used to be involved in sports in her high school days, but as a cheerleader, not an athlete. 
  2. As a young girl, Linda Lee’s dream was to become a medical doctor. However, seeing that her mother couldn’t afford to pay her fees, she chose to teach.
  3. Linda Lee didn’t have a happy childhood. She lost her father when she was just 5 years old. After his death, she moved to Seattle with her mom and elder sister.
  4. She married Bruce Lee in 1964, and they shared two kids, Brandon and Shannon Lee. Brandon Lee died in the year 1993 while shooting the film “The Crow”.
  5. She has married twice after Bruce Lee death. Linda Lee married Tom Bleecker, an author and screenwriter, in 1988, and they co-wrote her first book “The Bruce Lee Story”. The marriage didn’t last, however, as they divorced in 1990.
  6. A year after her divorce, she gave marriage a third try with Bruce Cadwell, a stockbroker. The third time sure was the charm because the two are still together even though the union produced no children.
  7. Now in her late seventies, Linda Lee has withdrawn from all forms of active service and spends much of her time golfing, travelling and spending time with her grandchildren.
  8. Along with her daughter Shannon, Linda continues to promote the martial arts system ‘Jeet Kune Do’ invented by Bruce Lee. Linda and Shannon have a Memorial website for Bruce Lee & Family.
  9. Her mother initially did not like her daughter marrying a Chinese person. In fact, most of her family initially did not approve. Her mother did attend the wedding, though, and Bruce Lee grew on her over time.
  10. According to several sources, Linda has a net worth of $12 million.

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Early life and education

Linda Lee Cadwell was born in Everett, Washington, USA, on 21 March 1945, to the family of Everett Emery and Vivian R. Hester. It was a Baptist family of Swedish, Irish, and English descent. She had her high school education in Edmond Meany Jr. High and later proceeded to Garfield High School, Seattle, Washington. There she met then Kung Fu instructor Bruce Lee for the first time. She used to be a cheerleader in high school, as she was attracted to physical work and the excitement therein.

Following her graduation from high school, she attended the University of Washington but dropped out only a few credits away from graduation. However, Linda later returned to complete her studies, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Also, she acquired a teaching degree, which formed the basis of her career as a kindergarten school teacher. Linda Cadwell became Bruce Lee’s student at the University of Washington. She attended his Kung Fu classes while she studied to become a teacher. At that time, Bruce Lee had opened his own Kung Fu school and majored in Wing Chun.


Linda was a kindergarten school teacher for most of her early career after graduating from the university. This may well have been her life if her husband didn’t die so untimely. She towed a different path not long after his death.

Two years after the sudden death of her husband, Linda Lee published her first book titled “Bruce Lee – The Man Only I Knew”. The book became an instant success and received numerous positive reviews. Due to popular demand, Warner published it at least thrice in 1975 alone: April, June, and August. The book formed the basis for the 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Over a decade later, Linda returned with another book, The Bruce Lee Story, in 1989.

Personal life

Of course, the most scrutinized aspect of Linda’s personal life is her marriage and involvement with the late Bruce Lee. In a few headings, we will try to shed light on the details of their union. And, of course, other aspects of Linda’s life as we know it.

As earlier stated, Linda first met Bruce Lee as a high school student at Garfield High School, Seattle, in Washington. Later in the Uni, she became his student as she attended Kung Fu classes alongside her studies. Their relationship soon graduated from the mere student-instructor relationship and developed into a love affair. Linda was nearing graduation in 1964 when she got married to Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee children

Some months after they tied the knot, Bruce Lee and Linda welcomed their first child, a son, Brandon Lee (born 1 February 1965 ). Four years later, they had Shannon Lee (born 19 April 1969). Both of them became actors and martial artists like their father. Unfortunately, on 31 March 1993, Brandon was accidentally shot to death by a prop gun while filming “The Crow”.

Linda Lee Cadwell biography: Bruce Lee wife, children, net worth, spouse
Linda, Lee and their two children

When did Bruce Lee die

On 10 May 1973, Lee collapsed during an automated dialogue replacement session for “Enter the Dragon” at Golden Harvest in Hong Kong. Suffering from seizures and headaches, he was immediately rushed to Hong Kong Baptist Hospital, where doctors diagnosed cerebral edema. They were able to reduce the swelling through the administration of mannitol.

On 20 July 1973, after complaining of a headache while working at the house of colleague Betty Ting Pei, a Taiwanese actress, she gave him the painkiller Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and the tranquillizer meprobamate. Lee laid down for a nap and never woke up. He was later declared dead on arrival at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It was later determined that Lee’s passing was “death by misadventure” caused by cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination medication Equagesic. He was 32 at the time.

Where is Bruce Lee buried?

Five days after his death, Linda had Lee’s body buried in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle on 25 July 1973. Pallbearers at the funeral included Taky Kimura, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Dan Inosanto, Peter Chin, and Lee’s brother Robert.

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Bruce Lee net worth

According to Celebrity Networth, Bruce Lee had a net worth equal to $10 million dollars at the time of his death in 1973 (after adjusting for inflation). Lee enjoyed commercial success in his time and is widely considered to be the most influential martial artist of all time.

Linda Cadwell spouse

As earlier stated, Linda has been married twice since Bruce Lee death. The first attempt was in 1988, 15 years after Lee’s passing. She married Tom Bleecker, an author and screenwriter with whom she co-wrote her first book “The Bruce Lee Story”. That marriage neither lasted long nor produced any children. They ended things in 1990, barely two years after their marriage.

In 1991, a year after parting ways with Tom Bleecker, Linda tied the knot with Bruce Cadwell, a stockbroker. Safe to say she has a thing for Bruces. The marriage has remained intact ever since, even though they have no children together.

Linda Lee Cadwell spouse, Bruce Cadwell
Linda Lee Cadwell spouse, Bruce Cadwell

Linda Lee Cadwell net worth

A month after Bruce Lee death, “Enter the Dragon” was released and became another huge hit. The film earned over $200 million. In addition, Lee’s estimated net worth was $10 million when he died, and as his spouse, Linda stood to inherit all of his assets. This, plus her career as an author of successful books all account for her current net worth of $12 million.

Latest news on Linda Lee Cadwell – is Bruce Lee wife alive?

Linda now lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband, Bruce Cadwell. She still works in the capacity of a Founder and a Volunteer Advisor at The Bruce Lee Foundation. In 2019, Cadwell spoke during a rewind screening of Lee’s last film, Enter the Dragon. She talked about Lee’s work in his active years and what it took to attain the heights he did.

“It was difficult for him to break into the Hollywood circuit as an established actor because of prejudice towards him being Chinese. The studio said that a leading Chinese man in a film was not acceptable, so Bruce set out to prove them wrong,” Bruce Lee wife said.


Linda Lee Cadwell has had a tough life where she has known loss a little too much. It is hard to imagine what it feels like to suddenly lose the love of one’s life. It is even harder to imagine what it feels like losing a child later in his prime. However, she has found a way to live through these tragedies and has done tangible work while at it. Her resilience and strength is definitely something to envy.

Now 76 years of age, Linda is living her days doing what she loves and spending time with family. We hope that the rest of her days are filled with joy and devoid of pain.

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