Margaret Leung Man-Lan On Bruce Lee

August 16 2015 at 4:06 AM
LJF  (Login LJF)

Response to Re: Bruce Lee & Connie Chan Po-Chu

Hi Kineusva,

Walter Tso Tat-Wah and Lee Hoi-Chuen were 2 very close families. These 2 families used to get together very often. Naturally, their children, Bruce Lee and Pearl Tso had a very good relationship since young. Bruce looked upon Aunt Eva Tso as "Kai Ma" as you said earilier the meaning of "godmother" in Cantonese. Bruce was seeing Pearl for a period of time. Walter Tso and Eva Tso both liked Bruce very much and really hoped her daughter would marry Bruce one day. However, Bruce went to U.S. to further his study in 1959 and his relationship with Pearl "cool down". When the news of Bruce got married to Linda Emery in 1964, Eva Tso was heartbroken and cried as the hope of getting Bruce to be her son-in-law burst. Grace Lee had to console the grieving Eva Tso for quite sometime.

Back to the topic of "Mei Lan" as you said. It was also pronunced as Man Lan in Cantonese.
Famous Cantonese Comic Opera performer and entertainer, Leung Sing-Bo, had 3 daughters and 1 son. The daughters are all famous actresses at their own right while his son is a doctor.

The eldest daughter, Leung Po-Ching (1936 - ) is an actress known for portraying a housewife in HK TV series. She had acted in 22 movies between 1949-1995 and played in many HK-TVB TV series. The more well-known role she played was the wife of a Malaysian Natuk in a very popular 1995 TV series called “A Kindred Spirit” which also starred Nancy Sit Kar-Yin and Louise Lee Si-Kei.

The second daughter, Margaret Leung Po-Ying, or Man Lan (circa 1940 - ), is a very popular Cantonesse movie actress in the late 50s and early 60s who has 53 movies in her film credit between 1952-1999. Man Lan is her stage name. She played opposite Bruce Lee and her father, Leung Sing-Bo in “Darling Girl” (1957) and had a well-choreographed Cha-Cha dance with Bruce in that movie. She later joined TVB and became a contract actress. It was rumored that she was Bruce Lee’s teenage girlfriend and was once said to have secretly got married in U.S. However, Man Lan denied all the rumors during her recent years’ interviews.

The youngest daughter, Leung Po-Chu (circa 1946 - ) is an actress cum Cantonese opera performer. She and Connie Chan Po-Chu formed the “Twin Darlings Troupe” together with their senior, Chan Ho-Kau and their fathers, Chan Fei-Nung and Leung Sing-Bo in 1957. The troupe’s performances were very successful. Connie Chan Po-Chu and Leung Po-Chu are truly the "Two Pearls" of the Cantonese opera since their Chinese names are the same, which mean the “Precious Pearl.” Leung Po-Chu had played in only 8 movies between 1958-1969. Out of which, she played opposite Connie Chan in 5 movies i.e. “Madam Chun Heung-Lin”(1958), “The Scout Master”(1959), “The Five Sons Crying At The Tomb”(1960), “Battle At Sizhou”(962) and “The Romance of Nonya”(1969). However, she was not as outstanding and popular as Connie and gradually bowed out of the movie and focused on her Cantonese opera stage shows.

As for Man Lan, she is a very low profile lady and has married with a happy life. She was seldom being interviewed except for once or twice by TVB in recent years. Below is an excerpt of the interview she talked about Bruce Lee. This Cantonese interview titled, “Starlight Counterparts” was conducted in 2013 by director, Clifton Ko Chi-Sum. (Note: Man Lan talked about the teenage Bruce Lee before he left HK in Apr 1959)

Host: Now, we are going to talk about a very good friend of yours, Bruce Lee......
ML: Oh...I see...hahahaha......

Host: Could you tell us about your relationship with Bruce?
ML: I was his chaueffer while he was fighting at some places...

Host: Why was you the chaueffer? Didn’t Bruce drive?
ML: At that time, he had yet got his driving license nor owned a car. But I did. So, he wanted me to be his chaueffer and always instructed me to wait for him at certain places, usually at a corner, with the front passenger door opened for him.

Host: Then…?
ML: After the fight, he would rushed towards the car and jumped into it hastily. He would then shout, “Ok, let’s go, hurry up!” I would pick him up and drove off straight away.

Host: You didn’t get to see his fight?
ML: Never. I never see how he fought and where exactly he fought.

Host: Oh, too bad…
ML: Actually, we were like good buddies. Together with another guy, whose surname was also Lee, we were 3 good buddies. (Though I’m a lady), I behave more manly, so, it was much easier to communicate with him.

Host: So, how did he behave infront of you?
ML: Well, he just “chor ng chi” (Cantonese, meaning couldn’t sit still). He was always moving around. If you sit here, he would move your table from here to there. Haha...

Host: Constantly moving uhh?
ML: Yeah, always. His hands were also "non-stop" moving and were always looking for something to practise (punching). He ever told my younger brother that he was going to teach him Kung Fu. I immediately stopped my brother from getting near him because I knew Bruce was going to get my brother to be his boxing target (as I’d experienced it before, got bruises over my arms) and didn’t want him to get hurt.

Host: Oh really?
ML: However, Bruce then, was a simple and innocent boy. He just loved to learn and perform martial arts. If you don’t let him practise punching, he would be angry and won’t want to see you. If you give him an opportunity, he would always talked and talked about martial arts.

Host: He was good at dancing too?
ML: Absolutely. But he usually dance informally. He would dance different kind of fanciful steps, his self-created steps.

Host: He seemed to have a lot of creativity?
ML: Yeah, indeed. Like his created “basketball bouncing” movements etc…

Host: Heard that you, Bruce and “Pak Chieh” (Eighth sister) – Chu Yat-Hung would all get money from Uncle Bo (Leung Sing-Bo) to buy soda?
ML: No, actually we would come up with the money ourselves and see how much we had before we decided where we should be heading to. We have not much money and were quite poor then. So, usually, we went for “Tea Dance” and not movies.

Host: Why not movies?
ML: For a “non-stop” person like Bruce, it would be a torture for him to sit still inside the cinema theatre for 2 hours without moving around. It would be too painful for him. He would rather walk back and forth on the street. He would feel more easy and comfortable that way.

Host: You had been his chauffer and picked him up many times, so, did you see him getting hurt?
ML: Only once where I saw him with one bruised eye. But he was really good at fighting and besides that time, I never see him got injured or whatsoever. He just like to win and had a sense of satisfaction. If he lost, he would go back and train hard. If he lost again, I think, he would practise even harder. He would always think how to beat the opponent and win the fight. How to fight, when to punch, where to kick etc…

Host: Hmm...he seemed to think very thoroughly in fighting. So, frankly, were you his first girlfriend?
ML: (Hesitated for a while) No. He was living near the corner of a building. There was a grocery store downstair. Both of us used to drink soda together over there. Although our area of activities were different but we used to hang out together quite often. Sometimes he would call and ask whether I have money. When we met, we would took out all the money from our pockets and put them on the table. Then, we would chip in for a “Tea Dance” usually at Sha Tin Hotel or Walden Hotel. We would order fried rice as it was not too expensive yet quite filling. The waiter knew about our affordability by a glance at us and often he would not ask too much (if we want other orders).

Host: Frankly speaking, did Bruce go after you before?
ML: Definitely not. I didn’t sense that. He thought I was not feminine enough. Once, he asked why I didn’t apply lipstick? “Why should I?” I responded. He said he didn’t want to bring a lady for a dance who didn't look beautiful. Hahaha...We are sincere friends... But he was always in a rush when he looked for me, always in a hurry. If you were in love, I mean, the relationship shouldn’t be like that.

Host: Did you send him off on the day of his departure to U.S. in 1959?
ML: Unfortunately, I was having the appendix removal surgery on that same day. He didn’t see me and should be quite mad at me. Later, he got someone to deliver a note to me. I thought he was so nice to give me a note to wish me a speedy recovery. But to my surprise, the note said, “Hope you won’t wake up from your surgery!” I thought, "My goodness!" At that moment, I don't know whether to be angry at him or to have a laugh at it because I knew Bruce was just playing prank on me as this was his usual mischievious character. I never took it seriously. Hahaha......

Photos of Man Lan, Bruce, Pearl Tso, Connie Chan Poh-Chu etc.:

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  • Clips of young Bruce, Connie & Unicorn - LJF on Aug 16, 2015, 4:15 AM
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