David Carradine, the star of the 1970s TV series Kung Fu (right), was found hanged in his Bangkok hotel room early this morning. According to reports, there was no evidence of foul play at the scene. Carradine, who was in the Thai capital working on a film, was 72.
Born in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 1936, Carradine was the son of actor John Carradine, best known for playing assorted evildoers and mad doctors in dozens of films from the 1930s to the 1980s. David Carradine's brothers are also actors: Keith Carradine, among whose credits is Robert Altman's classic Nashville, and Robert Carradine, best known for his role in the Revenge of the Nerds movies.
Throughout his 45-year career, David Carradine appeared in more than 200 features, made-for-TV movies, and television series. His most notable film role was that of singer Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby's Academy Award-nominated 1976 biopic Bound for Glory, for which he won the National Board of Review's best actor award and received a Golden Globe nod for best actor - drama.
Additionally, Carradine worked for the likes of Burt Kennedy (Young Billy Young), Martin Scorsese (Boxcar Bertha), Paul Bartel (Cannonball!), Ingmar Bergman (The Serpent's Egg), Walter Hill (The Long Riders, opposite both Keith and Robert), and Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2).
For the second installment of the Kill Bill films, released in 2004, Carradine earned a best supporting actor Golden Globe nomination.
His best-known role, however, remains that of the peaceful warrior Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest traveling through the 19th-century American West in the TV series Kung Fu, which aired between 1972-75. While supposedly doing his best to lead a peaceful existence, the priest always managed to find himself kicking ass before each episode was over.
Carradine was married five times. In the early 1970s, he was the companion of Barbara Hershey, with whom he had a son.
David Carradine's Death
June 8 update: According to various reports, David Carradine's family members have requested help from the FBI in the investigation of the actor's death at Bangkok's Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel this past Thursday, June 4. Thai police have said they will welcome the FBI's presence, but only, in accordance with Thai law, as observers.
Based on surveillance footage and interviews with hotel staff, Thai authorities stated they have basically ruled out foul play. They have added that Carradine may have died from accidental suffocation or heart failure. His body was reportedly found with a rope tied around his wrist, neck, and genitals, which has led to speculation that the actor may have engaged in a sexual activity known as auto-erotic asphyxiation. It'll be a few weeks before the autopsy reveals the actual cause of death.
Adding more fuel to the tabloidization of David Carradine's death, court documents filed by one his ex-wives, Marina Anderson, at the time of their divorce have been leaked online. The documents are supposed to contain statements about Carradine's “deviant” and “dangerous” sexual activities.
The Thai chief investigator, however, has said that the “previous conclusions on the cause of [Carradine's] death were made by people who know nothing about the case.”
Carradine was in Thailand working on the film Stretch, which will have to be partially rewritten. The actor appeared in dozens of feature films, but made his mark as the hero of the 1970s television series Kung Fu.
“He was an iconic actor who was so long a supporter of indie films, and that made him special to us in the independent film community,” said Elizabeth Levine, whose upcoming project, Portland, will now have to be recast. “It means so much for an actor with that resumé and that stature to get behind an indie film, because that's what makes indie films move and get made.”
Elizabeth Levine quote: Vancouver Sun.