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June 05, 2009

Kung Fu, Kill Bill Star David Carradine Dies

Bea A.
David Carradine

David Carradine, the scion of a Hollywood acting family best known for the 1970s television series Kung Fu, has been found dead in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 72.

According to news reports, Carradine was found hanged in his hotel room on June 4, 2009. Citing unidentified police sources, the news appeared on the website of the Thai newspaper The Nation.

The newspaper reported that Carradine, who was in Bangkok to shoot a movie, failed to appear for a meal with the film crew on Wednesday, and attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. His body reportedly was discovered by a hotel maid on Thursday morning.

The Associated Press reported that Michael Turner, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, confirmed Carradine's death, but out of consideration for the actor's family could not provide more details.

The oldest son of noted character actor John Carradine, David Carradine appeared in more than 100 films, including Martin Scorsese’s Boxcar Bertha and Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg. He also starred as folk singer Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby’s Bound for Glory, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and more recently was Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s two Kill Bill films.

From 1972-1975, Carradine starred as Kwai Chang Caine, a peace-loving Buddhist monk with a gift for the martial arts in the ABC television series Kung Fu. When Caine’s mentor, Master Po, is murdered by the Chinese emperor’s nephew, Caine, the orphaned son of an American man and a Chinese woman, kills the nephew. To avoid execution, he flees to the American West, where he begins a search for his half brother.

The series was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy awards, including one for Carradine as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Kung Fu won two Emmys, and a Kung Fu Movie of the Week won an Emmy as well.

Other notable television work includes the miniseries North and South and North and South, Book II. He also appeared in the syndicated series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which aired from 1993-1997, and in episodes of such series as Matlock, Family Law, Alias and Medium.

Born in Hollywood on Dec. 8, 1936, Carradine studied music theory and composition at what is now called San Francisco State University. He developed an interest in acting while writing music for drama department revues and joined a Shakespearean repertory company.

In addition to his late father, other members of the Carradine acting clan include his brothers, Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine and Michael Bowen, his daughters Calista Carradine and Kansas Carradine and nieces Ever Carradine and Marth Plimpton.

Carradine was married five times. Upon his death he leaves behind his fifth wife, Anne Bierman.

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