The “Big Boss”, Jon Benn, of Bruce Lee’s classic film, passes away at 83

  • December 9, 2018

Jon Benn,  the actor and entrepreneur who co-starred in the Bruce Lee directed Way of the Dragon, passed away this morning in Louisville, Kentucky.  He was 83 years old.

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(photo courtesy of timothyredel.com)

Benn was born in New York City in 1935 and would move around to nearly ten cities over the next 20-some years before he would enter the military nearing the Vietnam era, stationed in Monterey California.  He found himself in Hong Kong with his brother Rick in the late 60s where he would remain for several decades.  There he would make his claim to fame when in 1972 he ran into movie producer Raymond Chow at a cocktail party who asked Benn to be in a movie they were shooting in a couple weeks.  The film ended up being Bruce Lee’s directorial debut, Way of the Dragon where he would play the boss of the Italian mob.  The film also featured a young Chuck Norris.

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Flipping through Benn’s personal album of memories.

Benn would appear in almost 60 film projects in his life but only one other would close second to the notoriety of WayThe Clones of Bruce Lee.   This film gave Benn the chance to play a mad scientist who creates three Bruce Lee clones.  The film would become the tent pole of the genre known as Bruceploitation.  In his later years, Benn returned to Kentucky where his father Louis was a notable civil rights icon in the early 20th century.  It is there where he passed away with his brother Rick and other family members at his side.

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A marker in honor of Jon’s father in the Garden of Tranquility in Kentucky.  Jon and his siblings’ names are also engraved.
In November, Benn completed his final on camera interview with filmmaker and actor Michael Worth on an upcoming 2019 documentary and book.

Comments to the family can be left below.

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