HANDWRITTEN NOTES FROM LEGENDARY MARTIAL ARTS SUPERSTAR RARELY SEEN AT AUCTION
By Hector Cantú
As a pop-culture expert, Joseph Maddalena has handled Hollywood’s most coveted keepsakes for more than 35 years. Before joining Heritage Auctions as executive vice president, he founded Profiles in History, which took countless iconic items to market, from Luke Skywalker’s light saber to Dorothy’s ruby slippers to Indiana Jones’ whip to Peter Fonda’s Easy Rider chopper.
Heritage this month is offering 42 letters – “fresh to market” and until now unpublished – from legendary action star Bruce Lee to his friend and confidante Robert “Bob” Baker spanning the major trajectory of Lee’s burgeoning career up to his death in 1973. Also offered are seven letters from Lee’s wife Linda.
“Bruce Lee is an established Hollywood legend among the ranks of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Jean Harlow and other never-fading household names in entertainment history,” Maddalena says. “Through discipline, good looks, otherworldly athleticism, creative skills, show-biz savvy and sheer force of will, Bruce ultimately delivered himself to that rarified space we call ‘superstardom.’”
We asked Maddalena why collectors absolutely, positively must have these letters.
1. “Never before seen personal letters reveal the intimate, human side of Bruce Lee. In a life cut too short, too early, this candid material gives fresh insight into Lee’s development of philosophies and view of life.
2. “Historians will have access to new information unknown until now … information that will forever change the established mythology of Bruce Lee’s life and death.
3. “The letters offer a window into the human flaws and vulnerability of a legendary superstar that many thought superhuman.
4. “Fans will find Lee’s own references to their favorite Bruce Lee films offering behind-the-scenes insight into the making of Fists of Fury, The Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon and more.
5. “Correspondence by Bruce Lee is spontaneous while his wife Linda Lee’s writing is more analytical, giving the reader a sense of Bruce Lee’s state of mind while Linda describes the environment and phenomenon of her husband’s emerging stardom.
6. “Bruce Lee letters are incredibly rare! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a historic example!”
This article appears in the July 2021 edition of The Intelligent Collector.