Even four decades after the passing of Asian martial-arts superstar Bruce Lee (1940-73), his achievements still attract adoration from millions of movie fans. The biggest fan of all may be Jon Benn, who befriended the high-kicking hero while playing “the Big Boss”, a villain in Lee’s acclaimed 1972 movie The Way of the Dragon.
In Remembering Bruce Lee, a tell-tale autobiography, Jon reminisces fondly about his experiences with Lee and a lifetime of other adventures. From facing Lee’s fists of fury to riding in a cowboy posse, from almost starting the Third World War to a nude scene with sex symbol Bo Derek, much has happened to Jon for the sake of appearing in movies. But that’s not all. From exploring ancient Mexican temples and falling into a volcano to eavesdropping on communists in Cold War Europe, from doing business with former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos to girls-in-hot-pants waving Passports to Pleasure, one heck of a lot has happened to Jon away from the cameras too.
“Names aren’t so much dropped in a conversation with Jon Benn as emptied by the sack-load… and he has an interesting anecdote attached to each of them.” – Global Times
“Don’t be fooled by the gentle manner, soft voice and kindly white beard. Big Jon Benn has been one mean dude in his time, sporting the full gangster kit of a fixed snarl, fedora hat, striped suit and wraparound shades…. He doesn’t need much encouragement to talk about the old movie days. Even now, people stare at him on the subway, recognizing him as the foreign devil from countless films.” – Newsweek
“There are very few actors who have had the opportunity to work with a legend and to be a part of history. However, Jon T. Benn is the exception…. He is immortalized onscreen next to a genuine martial-arts legend, which, in turn, has made his villain character an icon within the martial-arts community.” – Irish Fighter magazine
“Benn reaches into the drawer of his desk and pulls out a little, old, battered, black address book. Yellowed pages fall out as he flips through: a gnarled finger traces the names. ‘Charles Bronson, Richard Burton, Yul Brynner, Candice Bergen, Sean Connery…’ As he thumbs another page, one wonders where the reality stops, and the performance starts, for this old stager – still, it is great theater.” – Shanghai Daily
“Jon Benn is the most famous ‘unknown’ in martial-arts movie history… After The Way of the Dragon, Benn had returned to his previous lifestyle, one of wine, women, more wine and working as a successful restaurateur. He found, to his surprise, that a stream of Little Dragon fans beat a path to his door, eager to query him about his experiences when working with Bruce Lee.” – Martial Arts Legends magazine