David Carradine

  • Born: December 8, 1936
  • Died: June 3, 2009
  • Location: Bangkok, Thailand

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Actor David Carradine poses for a photo at his home in the Tarzana section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 10, 2004.

Thai police: Actor's death may be accidental

By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK – The body of American actor David Carradine, best known for the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu," was found in a hotel room closet with a rope tied to his neck and genitals, and his death may have been caused by accidental suffocation, Thai police said Friday.

The 72-year-old actor's body was discovered Thursday in his luxury suite at Bangkok's Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel. Police initially said they suspected suicide, though Carradine's associates had questioned that theory.

Police Lt. Gen. Worapong Chewprecha told reporters that Carradine was found with a rope tied around his genitals and another rope around his neck.

"The two ropes were tied together," he said. "It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not or he died of suffocation or heart failure."

Thai police completed an autopsy on Carradine on Friday. But Police Col. Somprasong Yenthuam, superintendent of the Lumpini police station, which is handling the case, said results would not be ready for at least three weeks because the cause of death was unclear. He called the time lag "normal."

Dr. Nanthana Sirisap, director of Chulalongkorn Hospital's Autopsy Center, told reporters that the autopsy was conducted because of the "unusual circumstances surrounding Carradine's death," but did not elaborate.

Police Lt. Teerapop Luanseng had said Thursday that Carradine's body was found "naked, hanging in a closet," and that police at the time suspected suicide.

But one of Carradine's managers dismissed the theory.

"All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide," said Tiffany Smith of Binder & Associates, his management company. "We're just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened. He really appreciated everything life has to give ... and that's not something David would ever do to himself."

Carradine had flown to Thailand last week and began work on a film titled "Stretch" two days before his death, Smith said. He had several other projects lined up after the action film, which was being directed by Charles De Meaux.

Carradine was in good spirits when he left the U.S. for Thailand on May 29 to work on "Stretch," Smith said.

"David was excited to do it and excited to be a part of it," she said by phone from Beverly Hills.

Filming began Tuesday, she said, adding that the crew was devastated by Carradine's death and did not wish to speak publicly about it for the time being.

Aurelio Giraudo, the hotel's general manager, said Carradine checked into the hotel May 31 and he last saw him June 3. He said Carradine chatted with staff and even played piano a few nights in the lobby as well as flute which the "guests really enjoyed."

"I was a fan. I had a very nice talk with him when he checked in," Giraudo told The Associated Press. "He was very much a person full of life. I mentioned to him that I had seen (the movie) "Crank" with my family and that was the last smile he gave me."

Giraudo said a chambermaid discovered Carradine's body, adding that she knocked and entered after there was no response. Police arrived shortly thereafter.

Somprasong said there was no evidence there was anyone else in the room at the time of Carradine's death.

Carradine, a martial arts practitioner himself, was best known for the U.S. TV series "Kung Fu," which aired in 1972-75. He played Kwai Chang Caine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks and fled China after killing the emperor's nephew in retaliation for the murder of his kung fu master.

Carradine also appeared in more than 100 feature films with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Hal Ashby.

He returned to the top in recent years as the title character in Quentin Tarantino's two-part saga "Kill Bill." Bill, 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, including Bill.

__________________________________

"Kung Fu" actor found dead in Thailand

By GRANT PECK, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK -- Much like the character that made him famous, David Carradine was always seeking, both spiritually and professionally, his life forever intertwined with the Shaolin priest he played in the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu."

Just as the character, Kwai Chang Caine, roamed the 19th Century American West, Carradine spent his latter years searching for the path to Hollywood stardom, accepting low-budget roles while pursuing interests in Asian herbs, exercise and philosophy, and making instructional videos on tai chi and other martial arts.

Carradine was found dead Thursday in Thailand. The 72-year-old actor appeared to have hanged himself in a suite at the luxury Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel, said Lt. Teerapop Luanseng, the officer responsible for investigating the death.

"I can confirm that we found his body, naked, hanging in the closet," Teerapop said. He said police were investigating and suspected suicide, though one of his managers questioned that theory.

"All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide," said Tiffany Smith, of Binder & Associates, his management company. "We're just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened. He really appreciated everything life has to give ... and that's not something David would ever do to himself."

Carradine had flown to Thailand last week and began work on "Stretch" two days before his death, Smith said. He had several other projects lined up after the action film, which was being directed by Charles De Meaux with Carradine in the lead.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, Michael Turner, said the embassy was informed by Thai authorities that Carradine died either late Wednesday or early Thursday.

"I was deeply saddened by the news of David Carradine's passing," said director Martin Scorcese. "We met when we made 'Boxcar Bertha' together, almost 40 years ago. I have very fond memories of our time together on that picture and on 'Mean Streets,' where he agreed to do a brief cameo."

Carradine came from an acting family. His father, John, made a career playing creepy, eccentric characters in film and on stage. Half-brothers Keith, Robert and Bruce also became actors, and actress Martha Plimpton is Keith Carradine's daughter.

"My Uncle David was a brilliantly talented, fiercely intelligent and generous man. He was the nexus of our family in so many ways, and drew us together over the years and kept us connected," Plimpton said Thursday.

Carradine was "in good spirits" when he left the U.S. for Thailand on May 29 to work on "Stretch," Smith said.

"David was excited to do it and excited to be a part of it," she said by phone from Beverly Hills.

Filming began Tuesday, she said, adding that the crew was devastated by Carradine's death and did not wish to speak publicly about it for the time being.

The Web site of the Thai newspaper The Nation said Carradine could not be contacted after he failed to appear for a meal with the rest of the film crew on Wednesday, and that his body was found by a hotel maid Thursday morning. It said a preliminary police investigation found that he had hanged himself with a curtain cord and there was no sign that he had been assaulted.

Police said Carradine's body was taken to a hospital for an autopsy that would be done Friday.

Carradine appeared in more than 100 feature films with such directors as Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman and Hal Ashby. One of his early film roles was as folk singer Woody Guthrie in Ashby's 1976 biopic, "Bound for Glory."

But he was best known for "Kung Fu," which aired from 1972-75.

Carradine, a martial arts practitioner himself, played Caine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks and fled China after killing the emperor's nephew in retaliation for the murder of his kung fu master.

Pursued by revenge assassins from China, Caine wanders the American West in search of his half-brother Danny. His conscience forces him to fight injustice wherever he encounters it, fueled by flashbacks to his training in which his master famously refers to him as "Grasshopper."

Carradine left after three seasons, saying the show had started to repeat itself.

"I wasn't like a TV star in those days. I was like a rock 'n' roll star," Carradine said in an interview with Associated Press Radio in 1996. "It was a phenomenon kind of thing. ... It was very special."

Actor Rainn Wilson, star of TV's "The Office," said on Twitter: "R.I.P. David Carradine. You were a true hero to so many of us children of the 70s. We'll miss you, Kwai Chang Caine."

Carradine 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." Bill, 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, including Bill.

In "Kill Bill -- Vol. 2," released in 2004, Thurman's character catches up to Bill. The role brought Carradine a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor.

Bill was a complete contrast to Caine, the soft-spoken refugee serenely spreading wisdom and battling bad guys in the Old West.

"David's always been kind of a seeker of knowledge and of wisdom in his own inimitable way," Keith Carradine, said in a 1995 interview.

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." But after the early 1980s, he spent two decades doing mostly low-budget films.

Tarantino's films changed that.

"All I've ever needed since I more or less retired from studio films a couple of decades ago ... is just to be in one," Carradine told The Associated Press in 2004.

"There isn't anything that Anthony Hopkins or Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery or any of those old guys are doing that I couldn't do," he said. "All that was ever required was somebody with Quentin's courage to take and put me in the spotlight."

In the 2004 interview, Carradine talked candidly about his past boozing and narcotics use, but said he had put all that behind him and stuck to coffee and cigarettes.

"You're probably witnessing the last time I will ever answer those questions," Carradine said. "Because this is a regeneration. It is a renaissance. It is the start of a new career for me.

"It's time to do nothing but look forward."

___

Associated Press writer Polly Anderson and Entertainment Writers Erin Carlson and Jake Coyle in New York and David Germain in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Candle

I love his acting and he was my brother's Kimothy Shane Weber's nbr 1 favorite actor and is mine too & I'll cherish and remember him forever rest in peace David Carradine & thanks.

Posted by Heather Duana Weber - Wilson, NC - Number 1 greatest Fan of his   April 29, 2013

Candle

rest in peace grasshopper you will be missed
master, god bless your family

Posted by kim    August 23, 2009

Candle

Thanks!!!

Posted by Wolmar Wrublewski Machado - Curitiba   August 20, 2009

Candle

Rest in Peace Grasshopper.

Posted by Heather - Gilbert, AZ   June 13, 2009

Candle

Rest In Peace

Posted by jo    June 10, 2009

Candle

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of David Carradine. I enjoyed watching him in Kung Fu as a kid and always thought of him as a kind,gentle person. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time. May he be at peace.

Posted by Kathy Scott    June 09, 2009

Candle

I remember watching the Kung Fu series with my dad as a kid. My heart and prayers go out to the Carradine family. God Bless you all.

Posted by Jenn Alvino    June 08, 2009

Candle

my husband used to watch his kung fu shows growing up my heart goes out to his family and friends god bless all of you

Posted by sara - WV   June 08, 2009

You will be sorrily missed by millions!
RIP David

Posted by Brenda Johnson - Omaha, NE   June 07, 2009

Candle

I have been your fan forever David. Never missed a film you made. It came to a shock to learn of your untimly death and we hope whoever did this will face Jesus on their judement day! May you rest in peace. You will be sorrily missed by many including your wife, family, and friends I am sure of this! Much love and I will always remember you!

Posted by Brenda Johnson    June 07, 2009

Candle

david.you were my hero. i will miss you and the lessons you taught us. peace be yours forever.

Posted by edward sessoms    June 06, 2009

Kalagiya- A warrior of Shambala called home!

Posted by Richard H. Segel    June 05, 2009

Candle

David will be greatly missed he touched so many and brought wisdom to a generation who grew up in the shadow of the viet nam war thank you for your gift to the world

Posted by Bruce    June 05, 2009

Candle

I first learned about kungfu, tai chi, and qigong from Mr. Carradine. He has made a permanent mark on my life. I will miss him and wish him peace.

Posted by Julie Prescott    June 05, 2009

Candle

i watched this man for over thirty years.
he was great every movie evan death race

Posted by steve    June 05, 2009

My deepest sympathies.
My younger brother used to watch Kung-Fu all the time. t was because of David he went on to win many competions.

Posted by Kara Bergin - venice, CA   June 04, 2009

Candle

Prayers to the family...David Carradine will be greatly missed by all the world.

Posted by Nancy    June 04, 2009

Candle

Another Fallen Star. We will miss you,
Blessing to his Family.

Posted by Bobbi    June 04, 2009

Candle

"grasshopper" is still part of our daily speech.

Posted by Nancy    June 04, 2009

Candle

Grasshopper has become one with all -

Posted by Saddenedone - NJ   June 04, 2009

Candle

You helped an entire generation believe that with hard work, a belief in self, and a willingness to put oneself "out there" that we could overcome almost anything. And most of us did overcome. Thank you Mr. Carradine for all that you did and for all that you will continue to do from your place in the "grand scheme of things" to come.

Posted by Terry    June 04, 2009

Candle

we met Mr. Carradine at a Indy Race back in the 90's, very nice man, too many of the faces of now are going to soon. will miss his wit and smile. Holly the Holiday Clown Milwaukee WI

Posted by Ardith Richter - Milwaukee, WI   June 04, 2009

Candle

my prayers to his family he was one of the great ones he will be missed

Posted by judy wyndam - cuba, MO   June 04, 2009

Candle

You will live forever every time I watch your movies.

Posted by Michelle    June 04, 2009

Candle

I am grieved that David Carradine is gone. I grew up watching him in Kung Fu and enjoyed all of his later work. I credit him with educating many of us about Marshal Arts Philosophy and way of life. Our world is less rich today because of his passing.
Thank you for all of your endeavors.

Posted by Pauline Wilcoxson    June 04, 2009

Candle

YOU WERE MY HERO WHEN I WAS GROWING UP.WE ALL WILL MISS YOU DEARLY

Posted by JOHN    June 04, 2009

Why Would he take his own life? He was a great actor and i enjoyed all of his movies.

Posted by Ronnie - Dayton, OH   June 04, 2009

Candle

What a shock and shame. He was such a part of our growing up. He will be reflected on with a smile.

Posted by SavVySam    June 04, 2009

Candle

So saddening, he was a brilliant man, great actor and had a wonderful sense of humor

Posted by Sheree    June 04, 2009

Candle

How sad, I really loved this guy....he had the most wonderful face

Posted by Karen    June 04, 2009

Candle

He was the reason that I myself got into martial arts. God be with you dude. Many thanks and lots of love. You will be missed.

Posted by Jennifer Hulsey    June 04, 2009

What a bummer! I loved his honest presentation and willingness to try out different roles. RIP David!

Posted by Frank Lawrence - Flint, MI   June 04, 2009

Bon voyage, Grasshopper.

Posted by Tom    June 04, 2009


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Actor David Carradine poses for a photo at his home in the Tarzana section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 10, 2004.
Actor David Carradine demonstrates a straight toe kick at his home in the Tarzana section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 10, 2004.
In this Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006 file photo, actor David Carradine arrives for the 16th annual Environmental Media Awards in Los Angeles.
Actor David Carradine, of "Kung Fu" fame, kneels near his newly-unveiled star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Calif., Tuesday, April 1, 1997.
Director Quentin Tarantino, right, and actor David Carradine, nominated for best supporting actor for his work in "Kill Bill (Vol. 2)," arrive for the 62nd Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2005, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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David Carradine poses with his wife, Emily, at the 11th Annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles Tea Party honoring the 2004 Golden Globe nominees, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2005, in Los Angeles.