Celebs

Jim Kelly, martial artist and 'Enter the Dragon' star, dead at 67

July 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM ET

Image: Jim Kelly in "Enter the Dragon."
Everett Collection
Jim Kelly in "Enter the Dragon."

Actor and martial arts grandmaster Jim Kelly, best known for playing Williams in the classic Bruce Lee film "Enter the Dragon," died Saturday.

Kelly's ex-wife Marilyn Dishman, confirmed his death in a Facebook post on Sunday.

Kelly rose to fame with his moves and one-liners in 1973's "Dragon" and went on to star in several other 1970s action films, including "Black Belt Jones" (1974) and "One Down, Two to Go" (1976).

His success at the time meant more than just a career boost for him. It helped open the door for others.

"I broke down the color barrier -- I was the first black martial artist to become a movie star," Kelly said in a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times. "It's amazing to see how many people still remember that, because I haven't really done much, in terms of movies, in a long time."

His last role was a cameo in the 2009 straight-to-video action comedy "Afro Ninja." But according to an interview Kelly gave KatoFilms in 2010, there were many more parts he could have taken.

"I get offered about three films per year, even today," he said. "But the scripts are so bad, my character is so bad, I refuse to do it. I'm very particular about the type of image I put on screen for young kids. … So I don't do anything. If I never do another film, it's OK with me because I'm very happy with what I have done."

On Sunday, the official Jim Kelly Facebook page posted that "he will be deeply missed by all."

According to Dishman, there will be no services for the actor.

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