Jim Kelly, ‘Enter The Dragon’ Actor, Dies At 67
Jim Kelly, the martial arts actor best known for his scene-stealing turn in Enter the Dragon, died Saturday of cancer. He was 67.
Kelly's first movie role was in Melinda in 1972. Before the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, Kelly had just that one movie credit under his belt and was earning his living as a Los Angeles martial arts instructor. In Enter the Dragon, Kelly played Williams – a character offed early on who left lasting impressions on audiences with his Afro, dry humor and tall, lean physique.
Due to the warm reception he received after playing Williams, Kelly picked up a series of follow-up roles. He went on to star in Black Belt Jones, Three the Hard Way, Hot Potato and a number of other martial arts films throughout the 70s.
When he ceased to be an in-demand actor, Kelly became a professional tennis player, going on to rank in the USTA senior circuit. He continued to attend ComicCon to interact with his fan base from his martial arts movie days, and appeared in a Nike commercial with Lebron James in 2004.
Kelly’s death was announced on Sunday via his Facebook page. "It is with sadness and regret that we must announce the passing of a great man and legend Jim Kelly,” the message read. “He will be deeply missed by all. Jim had great love for his family, friends, tennis and martial arts. We are devastated by Jim's passing but through faith and support from family, friends and fans-we are comforted, blessed and will remain strong. He was survived by his lifetime partner of 33 years and wife."