Jim Kelly; played martial artist

Mr. Kelly said he pursued a career in acting after he won karate tournaments.

Warner Bros. Entertainment/1973

Mr. Kelly said he pursued a career in acting after he won karate tournaments.

SAN DIEGO — Actor Jim Kelly, who played a glib American martial artist in ‘‘Enter the Dragon’’ with Bruce Lee, died Saturday of cancer at his home in San Diego. He was 67.

Sporting an Afro hairstyle and sideburns, Mr. Kelly made a splash with his one-liners and fight scenes in the 1973 martial arts classic. His later films included ‘‘Three the Hard Way,’’ “Black Belt Jones,’’ and ‘‘Black Samurai.’’


Mr. Kelly started studying martial arts in 1964 in Kentucky and moved to California, where he earned a black belt in karate, he told in 2010. He said he set his sights on becoming an actor after winning karate tournaments. He also played college football.

The role in the Bruce Lee film was his second. He had about a dozen film roles in the 1970s before his acting work tapered off. I

In recent years, he drew lines of autograph seekers at comic book conventions.

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