Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bruce Lee and Hanna Barbera Animation Deal?


 I was rummaging through my old martial arts reference books.  Many of which are related to Chinese martial arts.  One of my favorite historical references is a comprehensive collection of Bruce Lee's letters to his family, friends, martial arts and film colleagues:   Bruce Lee:  Letters of the Dragon, Correspondence, 1958 - 1973. edited by John Little.  

The last letter written by Bruce Lee on the last day of his life, July 20, 1973 leaped out at me:

41, Cumberland Rd. 
Kowloon, H.K.
July 20, 1973.

Adrian Marshall
Suite 920, Century City
10100 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, Calif. 90067

Dear Adrian,
Will be arriving Los Angeles on Aug. 3rd, would like to sit down and hope you can leave open the weekend of Aug. 4th and 5th to discuss the followings:
1/ the deal with Hana Barbera
2/ Warner's proposition
3/ Titanas from Italy
4/ Andy's proposition from H.K. which I will explain to you when I see you in person
All in all, it will be a hectic schedule with television shows, United Press interview, etc., spending one week in L.S. and leaving on Aug. 18th to New York for another week of publicity, maybe Johnny Carson Show and so forth etc. And then, my publicity tour will officially end on Aug. 24th and on Aug. 25th I will meet Linda at L.A., ready to come back to H.K. hopefully in one piece.
In the meantime, if there is any preliminary discussions that you can start without my presence, go right ahead. However, I would prefer you and I sit down first and discuss the whole plan of the income tax situation before we proceed on. Also, I would like to meet with you first before meeting with Raymond Chow and then both of us will hear him out. By the way, there are also other propositions of books, clothings, endorsements, etc. At any rate, I will talk to you personally when I see you.

Take care my friend,
Very truly yours, 


PS: Looking forward to a sincere opened and honest relationship between you and I to really do something fair and square. By the way, SY Weintraub had just called and will be flying here to H.K., supposedly to have devised a super plan for me. At any rate , I won't sign anything until I and then maybe Raymond and/or SY sit down and we all talked. So get prepared!! See you soon. 

At the top of the list  Bruce Lee wanted to discuss with his attorney, Adrian Marshall was a "deal" with the animation studio Hanna-Barbera, which in 1973 was exploding with made for TV animation content.  Hanna-Barbera's other Chinese themed cartoon, "The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan" had already run its one season course.  However the faces we were seeing on television slowly but surely were becoming more ethnically diverse.  It's doubtful that Bruce would have landed a whole animated TV series this at this point in his Hollywood career.  But it's likely he could have been slated as an animated guest on "The New Scooby-Doo Movies"  which featured both real and fictitious popular personalities such as Cass Elliot, Davy Jones, and Batman and Robin. 

 In 1973, the "Kung Fu" TV-Series was doing well, and Bruce Lee, (the man who fathered the idea of that show) was about to bombshell western pop-culture with his re-introduction to American audiences in "Enter the Dragon".  The film, which even 40 years later is still the bar for all martial arts films to live up to. 

 If this deal with Hanna-Barbera was already greenlit, it's a no-brainer that the studio's animation great Iwao Takamoto would have overseen the project.  Iwao Takamoto, former assistant to Disney's Milt Kahl was a world-class draftsman.  Would have loved to see his model sheets interpreting Bruce Lee for animation.