Jackie Chan Biography

Name: Jackie Chan
Born: 7 April 1954 (Age: 57)
Where: Hong Kong, China
Height: 5' 8"
Awards: No major awards

In childhood, he suffered terrible poverty and the most painfully rigorous of educations. In his early career, he was almost cast aside as just another in a long line of failed Next Bruce Lees. In perfecting his craft, he's broken his nose three times, and also cracked his ankle, most of his fingers, both his cheekbones and his skull (patched together with a steel plate). You can't say Jackie Chan hasn't paid his dues. But finally, after nearly 40 years in the business, the guy's reached worldwide stardom. As he always wanted, pretty much everyone knows his name.

Jackie Chan was born Chan Kong-Sang (meaning Born In Hong Kong) on the 7th of April, 1954, naturally enough in Hong Kong. He was the only child of Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, having, reports say, spent 12 months in the womb, finally being removed surgically and weighing 12 pounds (his mum nicknamed him Pao-Pao, meaning Cannonball). Charles borrowed money from friends to pay for the operation, turning down the doctor's offer to take the child in payment. The family lived in a mansion in the exclusive Victoria Peak district. Not that his parents owned the mansion - Charles worked as a cook for the French Ambassador, while Lee-Lee was the housekeeper.

Jackie attended the Nah-Hwa primary school on Hong Kong Island, often spending his travel money on food and walking home, fighting on the way with Caucasian kids attending special schools in the area. He was not academically bright, failing to pass Primary 1 as his peers moved on to Primary 3. This was noticed by Charles, who decided to enrol the boy, now 7, at the Peking Opera School, operated by Shu Master Yu Jan-Yuen. Walking in with his dad, Jackie saw tens of kids, between 7 and their early teens, somersaulting and playing with swords and sticks. He recalls that he felt like kids must feel today on entering Disneyland. He would never return to academic education. Though he speaks 7 languages, he still cannot read or write with great proficiency, and has someone else write his scripts for him.

It didn't stay like Disneyland. Charles now moved to Australia to work at the Chinese Embassy, and Jackie, now named Yuen Lo, saw the true nature of the Peking Opera School. The training in music, acrobatics and many martial arts lasted 18 hours a day. Exercises were brutal, the kids performing headstands for hours on end. Beatings were commonplace, both at the hands of the Master and the other boys. Eventually, Jackie's mother left too, to join Charles in Australia, Jackie being adopted by the single-minded Master.