Thursday, June 4, 2009

RIP David Carradine

Actor David Carradine, star of the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu" who also had a wide-ranging career in the movies, was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room. A news report said he was found hanged in his hotel room closet and was believed to have committed suicide.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, Michael Turner, confirmed the death of the 72-year-old actor. He said the embassy was informed by Thai authorities that Carradine died either late Wednesday or early Thursday, but he could not provide further details out of consideration for his family. Carradine was in Bangkok to shoot a movie “Stretch”, and had been staying at the hotel since Tuesday.

Carradine was a leading member of a venerable Hollywood acting family that included his father, character actor John Carradine, and brothers Keith and Robert. In all, he appeared in more than 100 feature films with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Hal Ashby. One of his prominent early film roles was as singer Woody Guthrie in Ashby's 1976 biopic "Bound for Glory." But he was probably best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest traveling the 1800s American frontier West in the TV series "Kung Fu," which aired in 1972-75. He reprised the role in a mid-1980s TV movie and played Caine's grandson in the 1990s syndicated series "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues." He returned to the top in recent years as the title character in Quentin Tarantino's two-part saga "Kill Bill." The character, the worldly father figure of a pack of crack assassins, was a shadowy presence in 2003's "Kill Bill — Vol. 1." In that film, one of Bill's former assassins (Uma Thurman) begins a vengeful rampage against her old associates. In "Kill Bill — Vol. 2," released in 2004, Thurman's character comes face to face again with Bill himself. The role brought Carradine a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor.

After "Kung Fu," Carradine starred in the 1975 cult flick "Death Race 2000." He starred with Liv Ullmann in Bergman's "The Serpent's Egg" in 1977 and with his brothers in the 1980 Western "The Long Riders." One thing remained a constant after "Kung Fu": Carradine's interest in Oriental herbs, exercise and philosophy. He wrote a personal memoir called "Spirit of Shaolin" and continued to make instructional videos on tai chi and other martial arts.

David Carradine appeared in three Euro-westerns:
On the Line – 1983 (Bryant)
Arrivano i vostri (TV) – 1984 [himself]
Queen of Swords (TV) – 2001 (“The Serpent”) [episodes 1:10 “The Serpent”, 1:21 “End of Days” (guest appearance)]


  1. I still can't believe it!..The Carradines are like the last american film dynasty..This is not good news! :o(

  2. As a practitioner of Tai Chi and martial arts he was a personal inspiration and a compelling actor. I hope he's remembered for his life rather than the way he died.

  3. at least Carradine got a lot of living in before he passed on, RIP