Jim Kelly from “Enter the Dragon” Dies at the Age of 67

dspodspodsLife goes by entirely too fast.  Jim Kelly, the martial artist and actor who played a memorable role in the film “Enter the Dragon,” has died at the age of 67.   Kelly died of cancer at his home in San Diego, according to his wife, Marilyn Dishman.

Kelly was super cool, with lightning fast moves and a stylish afro that helped to make Bruce Lee’s films huge hits within the United States.  He was in three other popular films, “Three the Hard Way,” ‘’Black Belt Jones” and “Black Samurai.”  He served as the inspiration for the black samurai character in the tv show, “The Boondocks.”

Kelly began studying karate in Kentucky in 1964 and eventually moved to California.  Up until his death, he spoke highly of his experience working with Bruce Lee.

“It was one of the best experiences in my life,” he told salon.com. ‘’Bruce was just incredible, absolutely fantastic. I learned so much from working with him. I probably enjoyed working with Bruce more than anyone else I’d ever worked with in movies because we were both martial artists. And he was a great, great martial artist. It was very good.”

Kelly’s first action role was in the film, “Melinda.”  He did “Enter the Dragon” in 1973 as his second project.  His role was short, but his style and body type enamored Hollywood into giving him more chances.   Later, when acting opportunities started to disappear, Kelly actually became a ranked tennis player in the USTA senior circuit.

“I never left the movie business,” Kelly told The Los Angeles Times. “It’s just that after a certain point, I didn’t get the type of projects that I wanted to do.”

You also may not know this about Kelly.  He actually starred in a 2004 Nike commercial with LeBron James, spoofing a Bruce Lee film, “Game of Death.”

He was married to his wife for 33 years.  May he rest in peace.


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  1. RIP, Jim. “Enter the Dragon” is by far my most favorite martial arts movie, and you played a critical role in that decision.

  2. Jim Kelly was cool .

  3. I was a small child when i first met him we always new him from his height and back in them days everyone new who you were,the first time i went to the show i saw him on the big screen and i was so ,so excited because you do not see a black man from kentucky on the big screen i never forget it i moved from the ky in the early 80’s which was a few maybe 2 or 3 years after he mad the movie i still was very young and i remember my mother & uncles talking about him he made it from a small town in ky Bourbon County if you are from ky you know what i’m talking about that was some big stuff back in those days so i have to tell my aunts & uncles about his passing cause they went to school with him but they don’t do the internet so they have to hear it from me and he’s gonna be missed dearly to his wife & Family very sorry for your lost cause we loved him also and i do to this day still watch his movies like he just made it yesterday and still love them i have a 12year old son that spotted the movie because he likes bruce lee but when he saw MR. JIM KELLY he said mom who is that man i told him i remembered him when i was a child and that he went to school with your nana that’s what they called my mom and he was so proud to know that we can do what ever we wanted to learn and to see him a Black man from ky on the big screen with Bruce Lee i have to say his eyes lite up better than Xmas he is so proud of this man don’t get me wrong he likes Bruce too that’s all he looks at but hi best choice is MR. JIM KELLY and maybe 5 years ago on top of that i took him to his hometown wow that was better than any game that i ever bought him and my family reunion is this weekend and i am gonna give a shout out to MR. JIM KELLY because because he’s a true legend and most of his friends and maybe family will be there because my family new him well and some say that he was ken love ya a true legend… R.I.P. Gone but never forgotten….

  4. Jim Kelly was the mf man. RIP brother!

  5. Jim Kelly was my man! He was a inspiration to all the young brothers

  6. Damn Man We lost Somebody! RIP Jim Kelly We Love you Brother & Wanted to be just like you!

  7. We will certainly miss Jim Kelly…Our Sincere Prayers and Condolences Go Out to His Entire Family[RIP].