Hyams was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and attended Harvard. He served in the US Army during WWII, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After the war, he became a nationally syndicated columnist, writing on Hollywood and the film industry.
He studied the martial arts for 50 years.
Alain Burrese describes Hyams’ MA career.
Joe Hyams took up fencing lessons in the 1950’s and through those classes he met film music composer Bronislau Kaper. In 1958, Kaper introduced him to Ed Parker, who was teaching Kenpo in the weight room in Beverly Hills Health Club. Mr. Hyams became one of Ed Parker’s first private students and also one of Mr. Parker’s first black belts.
Joe Hyams was the first person to introduce Bruce Lee into the Hollywood community. He helped Bruce Lee, with whom he trained privately get a foothold in Hollywood during Bruce’s struggling years. Mr. Hyams trained with Bruce Lee for two years, and when Bruce left for Hong Kong to pursue his film career, he suggested that Joe learn from Jim Lau, who trained him in Wing Chun.
LA Times obituary