(Feature image from AFP)
One fateful night in 1973, Hong Kong American martial artist and action film actor Bruce Lee had complained about a headache before he went to “lie down for a nap” at Taiwanese actress Betty Ting Pei’s home. He was given an analgesic (painkiller), Equagesic, which contained both aspirin and the muscle relaxant meprobamate. He never woke up.
His case was later classified as a “death by misadventure” caused by an acute cerebral edema due to a reaction to compounds present in the combination medication Equagesic. At the time when Bruce Lee met his untimely death, he was only 32 years old.
Bruce’s sudden death spurred several ugly conspiracy theories, one of which claimed that Betty and Bruce were in the midst of “intimate acts”, with drugs rumoured to be involved when the tragedy struck.
Other rumours claim that Betty, who was Bruce’s lover at that time, had caused Bruce’s death. The speculations persisted for decades.
And now, 41 years later, Betty Ting Pei is coming forward to tell her side of the story.
AsiaOne, citing Sina.com, reported that Betty had her first TV interview on Chinese talk show, “A Date With Lu Yu” in many years. The interview was to counter allegations that she had caused Bruce’s death. In the interview, she said that Bruce was suffering from poor health before his death and that the location of Bruce’s death was held back intentionally.
Betty, who is currently 67 years old, admitted:
I have been accused of lying, as people said he did not die in my home. So Mr Raymond Chow (a then Hong Kong movie producer) told me that Lee’s family said not to tell anyone that he died in my home. I was only 26 at that time. How would I know why he died suddenly? His death was a big blow to me. I was scared of death and ghosts. I did not know what to do, and there was no one to help me.
Mr Raymond Chow had announced Lee’s death to the media in the early hours that fateful day, saying that the actor died in his own house with his wife by his side.
For Betty, however, she didn’t have a say in the matters at that time because the family of Bruce’s wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, felt it was inappropriate that Lee was found dead in a friend’s home. Bruce’s brother and wife later corroborated the story, but conflicting details led to the mystery over the exact location of the actor’s death.
Betty said that she felt wronged throughout the whole incident as she suffered a lot of pressure from all the rumour-mongering. His death brought a lot of pressure and unfair treatment to her. However, she was always able to seek solace via the things he left behind such as the many music tapes from English bands that he had, in which she would listen to every time she was having a hard time.