YMRT #25: The Short Lives of Bruce and Brandon Lee by Karina Longworth


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A martial arts master on the verge of major movie stardom, Bruce Lee died suddenly in 1973, at the age of 33; the official cause was “death by misadventure.” Twenty years later, Bruce Lee's son, BrandonLee, died suddenly in an accidental shooting on the set of The Crow — the movie which was poised to turn Brandon into a major star. These parallel tragedies have led some to suggest that the Lee family have been the victims of a curse, or a conspiracy. In this episode, we’ll explore what really happened to Bruce and BrandonLee, and discuss what happened over several decades, so that an extraordinary talented artist who was essentially run out of town thanks to Hollywood’s racism came to be one of the industry’s biggest moneymakers long after his death. 

Show notes!

This episode marks a couple of different landmarks for You Must Remember This. It’s our 25th episode. It’s the last episode of our second season, which has been devoted to stories loosely or not-so loosely related to my book, Hollywood Frame by Frame — making this also the last time I’ll mention the book in or around the podcast (there are pictures from the set of The Crow in it and you can buy it here. </plug>.) And, it’s our final all-new episode of 2014. We will have a special not-all-new episode next week, then we’ll take a week off and be back with the first episode of a new season on January 6. 


There are a lot of books about Bruce Lee, and, honestly, I had trouble wading through them to figure out which were the most substantive/reliable. As I mention in the episode, the the demand for information about Lee after his death created a financial incentive to publish which didn’t necessarily support fact checking. I ended up putting more stock in newspaper/magazine articles written from the perspective of the future. Matthew Polly’s Playboy feature Chasing the Dragon was an important source for this episode, as were the LA Times and Entertainment Weekly’s extensive coverage of Brandon Lee’s death on the set of The Crow, particularly this story by Mark Harris. Also, I watched the documentary I Am Bruce Lee, as well as, um, this Unsolved Mysteries episode about the Lee deaths. 


Atmosphere by Joy Division

Intelligent Galaxy The Insider

Strict Machine by Goldfrapp

Cyllider One by Chris Zabriskie

Money by Jahzzar

The Insider Theme by The insider

5:00 AM by Peter Rudenko

Laserdisc by Chris Zabriskie

These Days by Joy Division

Auto-Suggestion by Joy Division

Private Hurricane (Instrumental Version) by Josh Woodward

Undercover Vampire Policeman by Chris Zabriskie

For the Damaged (coda) by Blonde Redhead

Wonder Cycle by Chris Zabriskie

Dead Souls by Joy Division

YMRT #19: Raquel Welch, From Pin-up to Pariah by Karina Longworth

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The poster for RaquelWelch's second film,One Million Years B.C., became the top pin-up of the late 1960s, and Welch — a divorced mom of two who had been a cocktail waitress just a few months earlier — found herself in the odd position of being an old-fashioned sex goddess in the age of flower children and feminism. With her unprecedentedly athletic curves, Welch was willing to exploit her natural gifts to some extent, but was adamant about not doing full nudity. Her stubbornness about maintaining control over the representation of her body made her unpopular in an industry which wasn’t interested in anything about her but her body; at the same time, Welch was disdained by contemporary feminists for her sexualized image, even though in several of her films, Welch set the prototype for the modern day action heroine. Fed up at age 40, Welch sued a major Hollywood studio for conspiracy to defame her and end her career.

Show Notes!

When I first recorded this episode, for some reason I kept referring to One Million Years B.C. as One Billion Years B.C. I have no idea why — I wrote it correctly in my script for the show, but somehow was unable to either read it correctly, or notice that I was reading it incorrectly until I started editing the episode. I went back and rerecorded a few lines; if I missed any of the old “Billions,” I apologize. 

This was a deep research week. In addition to Welch’s own, somewhat disappointing book, Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage, I consulted many, many magazine and newspaper articles, some of which I found only on microfiche, which is not always well labelled. These were the key sources, linked where possible:

“Playboy Interview: RaquelWelch” by Richard Warren Lewis, Playboy, August 1970

“Raquel Redux” by Stephen Rebello. Movieline, August 2001

“Raquel’s Story like Fairy Tale” by Abe Greenwald. Syndicated column. May 7, 1965

“RaquelWelch Won’t Deny She’s Married” by Sheilah Graham, Hollywood Citizen-News (also syndicated elsewhere), August 5, 1966

“OK, OK, But Can She Act?” by Robert Neville. New York Times, September 11, 1966

“Pinup’s Progress,” by Martha Sherrill, Allure, May 1993

“RaquelWelch Interview,” by Maury Levy, Playboy Fashion, Fall/Winter 1982 

“Sex Goddess is Human, After All,” by Joyce Haber. Los Angeles, June 9. 1968

“What’s Troubling RaquelWelch?” by Marilyn Beck. Syndicated (retrieved from the Palm Beach Post, November 16, 1972) 

Also, this is the legal summary of the Cannery Row case which I reference in the episode. 


Excerpt from this excerpt from Myra Breckinridgehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFgHFcxH6Mg


“Night City” by Dirty Beaches

“Strange” by Patsy Cline

“You Go To My Head (Instrumental)” performed by Chet Baker

“Sincerely” by The Moonglows

“I Only Have Eyes For You.” performed by The Flamingos

“Joe” by Scott Walker

“Money” by Jahzzar

“Bring Down the Birds” by Herbie Hancock

“Out of the Skies, Under the Earth” by Chris Zabriskie

“The Wrong Way” by Jahzzar

“Poursuite” from the score to the movie Breathless, by Martial Solal

“Capri” from the score to the movie Contempt, by Georges Delarue

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel

“Gagool” by Kevin MacLeod

“Future Starts Slow” by The Kills

“Fiery Yellow” by Stereolab

“What True Self, Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X” by Chris Zabriskie

“Divider” by Chris Zabriskie

“Monte” by comounjardin

“Swimsuit Issue” by Sonic Youth

YMRT #16: Marlon Brando, 1971-1973 by Karina Longworth

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In the early 1950s, MarlonBrando became the first post-war mega-movie star, redefining screen acting and heralding the end of the star system by refusing to sign a studio contract. But as the studio system fell apart in the 1960s, and a new generation of moviegoers rejected the previous decade’s movie stars, Brando acquired a reputation as box office poison. This is the story of how, with two movies shot in 1971 — The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris — Brando turned his career around. He then spent his regained celebrity capital on an act of social activism that simultaneously drew attention to a good cause, and put Hollywood’s culture of self-adoration in its place. 

Show notes!

Today’s episode features excerpts from a conversation between myself and Austin Wilkin, the archivist for the MarlonBrando Estate. I’ve quoted liberally from Brando's own autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me. Of the many, many Brando biographies, Brando's Smile by Susan L. Mizruchi and MarlonBrando by Patricia Bosworth were the most helpful. I’m not sure how seriously to take Alice Marchak’s two self-published books about her time working as Brando's secretary (Wilkin suggested I take them “with a grain of salt”), but I did base some of the section on the 1972 Oscars on Marchak's More Me and Marlon. I consulted Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls to refresh my memory on some aspects of the making of The Godfather; I’ve also written about that film before.

I was a bit shocked to not be able to find an English-language biography of Bernardo Bertolucci (although maybe I shouldn’t have been). I made do with Bernardo Bertolucci: Interviews, and these twoarticles.

As noted in the podcast, my new book Hollywood Frame by Frame includes images of Brando on the set of The Godfather. The book also includes contact sheets featuring a much younger Brando, on the set of Julius Caesar


“Preludes for Piano #2” by George Gershwin

“Exlibris” by Kosta T

“Looped” by Jahzzar

“Feel it All Around” by Washed Out

“What True Self, Feels Bogus, Let’s Watch Jason X” by Chris Zabriskie

“Rite of Passage” by Kevin Macleod

“Jump Into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson

“Be Thankful For What You Got” by Massive Attack

“Blue Lines” by Massive Attack

“Divider” by Chris Zabriskie

“Ghost Story” by Versus

“For Better or Worse” by Kai Engel

“Fiery Yellow” by Stereolab

“money” by Jahzzar

“Cylinder One” by Chris Zabriskie

“Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy