SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Chinese Hospital celebrated a milestone birthday of one of its most famous patients— the late martial arts legend and actor Bruce Lee. Little known to many, Lee, who died in 1973, was born on November 27, 1940 at Chinese Hospital in San Francisco.
In celebration of Lee’s 80th birthday, a group of Chinese Hospital board members, staff, and longtime enthusiasts gathered to reflect on Lee’s contributions to the Asian American community and the profound legacy he left behind.
Jeff Chinn, a local fan who owns an extensive collection of Bruce Lee memorabilia, shares a common experience with Lee—Chinn was also born at Chinese Hospital. Chinn credits Lee and his life’s work for bearing a positive impact on his childhood and formative years.
“As a kid, I did not want to tell others that I was born at Chinese Hospital,” said Chinn. “Bruce Lee was very proud of his Chinese heritage and the fact that he was born in San Francisco, Chinatown. Thanks to Bruce Lee, we had instant pride. Because of what he personally gave to me and many other Asian Americans growing up, I am going to continue keeping his memory alive.”
Dr. Jian Zhang, CEO of Chinese Hospital, finds the connection between Bruce Lee and Chinese Hospital to be particularly meaningful for the Chinese and Asian American communities.
“When the first wave of Chinese workers immigrated to San Francisco and worked on the railroads, they were not permitted to access mainstream hospitals at the time simply because they were Chinese,” said Dr. Zhang, “Chinese Hospital was founded and continues to exist to provide culturally sensitive health care to the Chinese community. Our mission has been to ensure that our community is healthy and able to thrive throughout their lives. Bruce Lee, was also a pioneer of his time and singlehandedly changed the lives of the Chinese American community. His work and influence opened up new opportunities and avenues for Chinese Americans to thrive and advance in society.”
Kitman Chan, Board President of Chinese Hospital, is proud that the Hospital is trusted by its patients, such as Bruce Lee and his family at the time, and feels it is an honor to be an important part of the lives of the community.
“Chinese Hospital is proud of its 121-year history and commitment to serving this community,” said Mr. Chan. “We also feel a sense of pride in seeing members of our community make great contributions to society but also celebrate their Chinese heritage, as Bruce Lee had. It delights us that Bruce went on to have a groundbreaking career, using his talents to showcase our culture on the big screen and inspire countless Chinese American youth.”