Black Friday Flashback: Bruce Lee as Kato on ABC’s “The Green Hornet”

Bruce Lee as Kato in "The Green Hornet" (ABC Television)

Eighty years ago, audiences felt the buzz of The Green Hornet with a 13-part black-and-white movie serial that followed newspaper publisher Britt Reid and his masked alter-ego putting the sting on the underworld with the help of his valet Kato (Keye Luke).

Months later, on November 27, 1940, a dragon named Bruce Lee was born.  

For one season on Friday nights, Lee unleashed the praying mantis and more as Kato, the kung-fu driver/enforcer of The Green Hornet with Van Williams as Britt Reid, the crusading publisher of The Daily Sentinel.  From 1966 to 1967, the series followed the Hornet and Kato facing one challenge after another in their rolling arsenal, the Black Beauty: protecting the rights and lives of decent citizens against organized crime, political and police corruption, and greedy businessmen. 

Though it lasted one season, The Green Hornet continues to remain a cult fan favorite thanks to Lee, who went on to starred in The Big BossFist of Fury (aka The Chinese Connection), Way of the Dragon with Chuck Norris, and Game of Death.  Lee also had a recurring role on the television series Longstreet (1971-72) as Li Tsung, a martial arts expert who trained blind insurance investigator Mike Longstreet (James Franciscus).

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee died at the age of 32.  Several weeks later, Enter The Dragon was released and cemented Bruce Lee’s legacy as the greatest martial artist of all time.

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