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Jim Kelly, who parlayed his martial arts skills into a successful but brief career in action movies, has died. He was 67.

Kelly’s former wife Marilyn Dishman told CNN that the actor died Saturday of cancer, but did not elaborate.

Kelly worked as a martial arts instructor in Los Angeles when he was tapped for his first role in the action movie, “Melinda.” But he is best known for his work in the 1973 Bruce Lee film “Enter the Dragon.”

Kelly’s appearance in the movie was brief — fans lamented he was offed too soon — but his electrifying Afro, lanky 6-foot-2 frame and his wisecracks left an impression.

Producers came calling. And he capitalized on the attention by taking on the title role in “Black Belt Jones” the following year. A spate of other roles followed throughout the 70s, most notably “Three the Hard Way,” but then dried up.

In later years Kelly took up tennis professionally, becoming a ranked player on the USTA senior circuit.

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article courtesy of CNN.com

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