What You Didn't Know About Bruce Lee's Affair

Live fast — and we mean FAST — die young, and leave a corpse so cut that it'll leave people feeling self-conscious for decades after your demise. That's exactly what Bruce Lee did. He was one of the quickest martial artists alive. His well-formed physique, phenomenal martial arts skill, and acting talent made him one of the most famous people in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Lee wasn't really famous in the United States until after his death, but since then, we've learned a lot about the action and martial arts star, including that he was having an affair with another woman at the time of his death.

Lee was married to Linda Lee Cadwell at the time of his death, but that didn't stop him from finding love in forbidden places. His affair turned into a scandal after his death. Well, everything turned into either a scandal or a conspiracy theory following the dragon's demise. In the case of his affair, it produced both.

Who was Betty Ting Pei

Betty Ting Pei was a Chinese actress who starred in several Hong Kong films from the early '60s through the mid-'80s, and she was Bruce Lee's mistress. The two dated for over a year. All the while, Lee was a married man. Here's the thing, for Ting Pei being Lee's secret lover, she wasn't really that much of a secret. Following the actor's death, a movie was made based on their affair called Bruce Lee and I. The actress who plays Ting Pei in the film is none other than Ting Pei herself. According to the book, Bruce Lee: A Life, Lee had claimed that she wasn't his only affair. She's just his most famous. "It's just a fling. I'll get rid of her [Ting Pei]. She doesn't mean anything to me. I have plenty of girls," Lee allegedly said.

Ting Pei, on the other hand, has a completely different view of their past relationship. "He was the first man I truly respected in my life and I really admired him," Ting Pei tells the South China Morning Post. "Before him, I wasn't serious with relationships, and I knew nothing about love."

Ting Pei's film career is rarely remembered when the former actress's name comes up. These days, she's mostly remembered for the scandalous affair.

She was with him when he died

Betty Ting Pei was with Bruce Lee when he died. Not as in "they were in a relationship," but rather in the more literal sense. Lee was sleeping in Ting Pei's bed when he passed away. The couple was spending some time together at Ting Pei's apartment, doing those naughty things forbidden couples do when they're alone.

The couple took a break from their activities when Game of Death co-producer Raymond Chow came over, at which point Lee started working vigorously on scenes from the film. Lee came down with a dizzying headache and went to sleep it off in Ting Pei's bed after popping one of her Equagesics (a tranquilizer and painkiller). Ting Pei tried to wake up her lover after a few hours of rest, but Lee wouldn't wake. Obviously, Ting Pei panicked and got help, but Lee was dead before the medics made it on scene. He was only 32.

The producer lied to the media

As a producer, if your favorite star bites the dust while working on your production, you're probably going to do anything you can to sweep said star's dark secrets under the rug and delete their browser history. There weren't internet browsers around in 1973, but Raymond Chow did everything he could to hide Bruce Lee's secret lover. Chow's production company released statements claiming the Lee had died at home — you know, with his wife — according to The Independent News & Media in Singapore. 

Lee was super famous in Hong Kong at the time of his death, and here's the thing about famous people: Reporters look into them deeply when they die young. The same goes for tabloid journalists. Any story they can find is worth its weight in gold. So, conspiracy theories started popping up surrounding the martial artist and actor's death, including claiming that Betty Ting Pei was the person responsible for Lee's death. Some rumors suggested Ting Pei intentionally poisoned Lee. Now, Lee's official cause of death was an allergic reaction resulting from a painkiller that Ting Pei had given him, but there's not much of a chance she knew the pill would kill him. Nor that she, his lover who he was actively spending time with, would want him dead. Allergies can begin out of nowhere, and Ting Pei claims Lee had taken the painkiller many times in the past.