Bruce Lee's family wages battle to get king of kung fu on US postage stamp 

Bruce Lee has one more fight to win.

The kung fu king from the mid-20th century died nearly 40 years ago, but now his daughter is trying to have the San Francisco native commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp.

In a YouTube video posted on the official website dedicated to Bruce Lee and his life, Shannon Lee says his determination and innovation and the contributions he made as a prominent Chinese-American are some of the many reasons he deserves to grace a stamp.

“I’m trying to keep his legacy going, philosophy alive and message going,” she said.

Shannon Lee is hoping her father’s stamp can come to fruition in 2012, the year of the dragon on the lunar calendar. Lee’s Chinese screen name was Li Xiaolong, and the latter word means “little dragon.”

But Lee faces some steep competition in the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee for the U.S. Postal Service.

More than 50,000 applicants try to get historic figures and favorite American subjects on a stamp each year, according to Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders. Lee’s application will be placed on the committee’s agenda to be considered, but no decision has been made.

The job of the 10-member committee is to look at these applicants to find possible stamps of broad national significance that are both educational and interesting. The committee includes a former postmaster, a graphic designer, an author and even an Olympic gold medalist.

Stamp ideas must meet 14 criteria. The person being commemorated must have overcome adversity, have widespread national appeal, and been dead for at least five years, among other things. The top 25 names suggested each year are recommended to the postmaster general for final approval.

If approved, commemorative stamps are issued as first-class stamps and printed once for consumer purchase. They are not be reprinted.

As many as 200 million stamps are printed per topic. Elvis Presley’s stamp, first issued in the 1990s, is still the best-selling stamp of all time, according to Saunders.

Lee, born Nov. 27, 1940 in San Francisco, began studying Kung Fu at the age of 13 while living in Hong Kong. He starred in a number of famous action films including “Fists of Fury,” “The Chinese Connection” and the “Return of the Dragon.”

Lee also opened martial arts schools in Oakland in the 1960s. He died in July 1973, months after the completion of “Enter the Dragon,” his final film.

For kung fu master Michael Lau, commemorating Lee on a national stamp is a noteworthy cause because Lee never gave up, he said.

“He’s a hero,” Lau said. “He’s a great influence for a lot of people.”


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Well-known figures with commemorative stamps:

  • Elvis Presley
  • George Washington
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Mother Teresa
  • Mark Twain
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Gregory Peck
  • Anna Julia Cooper
  • The Simpsons
  • Bob Hope

Other commemorative stamps:

  • Redwood forest
  • Flags of the nation
  • Breast cancer awareness
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Indianapolis 500
  • Chinese year of the rabbit
  • Hawaiian rainforest

Source: U.S. Postal Service

To show your support for a Bruce Lee commemorative postage stamp, visit

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