It was a bit of a shock to hear that David Carradine had died Thursday. It was even more shocking that the 72-year-old actor may have taken his own life. But police in Thailand, according to The Nation newspaper, reported that the actor was found in his Bangkok hotel room with a rope around his neck and body, an apparent suicide. Authorities believe he had been dead for at least 12 hours when he was found.
I grew up watching “Kung Fu.” I loved the adventures of Caine, played by actor David Carradine, how reserved and self-assured he was. And when push came to shove, Caine would use his martial arts expertise to take care of the problem. But he always remained unruffled.
In fact, David Carradine’s manner always seemed unruffled, inscrutable for the most part, no matter what role he played. He seemed stoic, immovable. From his roles in the two “Kung Fu” series to his roles alongside Chuck Norris in “Lone Wolf McQuade” and Uma Thurman in the “Kill Bill” movies, David Carradine was the personification of mobile serenity.
In short, David Carradine was the very definition of cool.
In a career that spanned over four decades and over 200 roles in television and film, Carradine seemed a tireless force. He was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards over the years, including one for “Kung Fu” and another for his movie breakout role in the 1976 biopic “Bound For Glory” in which he portrayed singer Woody Guthrie. He often could be seen in commercials as well, often playing on the “Kung Fu” theme that made him famous. A student of martial arts (after starring in “Kung Fu”), Carradine also produced and starred in several instructional videos teaching Tai Chi, a marital art technique often used for exercise regimens.
Chuck Binder, Carradine’s manager, said he was shocked at the news. He said that Carradine was always so “full of life, always wanting to work.” The actor was in Thailand to shoot his next film, “Stretch.”
David Carradine’s agent told KABC that he believes the reports out of Thailand have been sensationalized and that the actor died of natural causes.
The Nation reported that a preliminary police investigation found that David Carradine had hanged himself with a length of curtain cord and that there had been no indications of foul play or assault.
David Carradine, whose real name was John Arthur Carradine, was the son of film legend John Carradine and half-brother to actors Keith Carradine and Robert Carradine.
The actor will leave a vast body of work as his legacy, but most, like myself, will always remember the wandering Shaolin monk tirelessly traveling the Wild West, righting wrongs in his calm, practical, and occasionally forceful manner, sometimes sharing flashbacks of his upbringing and lessons in a Shaolin temple.
KABC (Los Angeles)