Name at birth: John Arthur Carradine
Actor David Carradine shot to stardom in the early 1970s as the star of the television series Kung Fu (1972-75). He played Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin priest in exile wandering the American frontier of the late 1800s, attempting to live in cosmic harmony but using his fighting skills to whup the occasional nasty cowboy. Carradine suffered from type-casting after the role ended; he worked steadily, but often on stage and in low-budget movies. The cult status of Kung Fu led to a resurgence in his popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, culminating with his title role in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies (2003-04). His other films include Boxcar Bertha (1972, directed by Martin Scorsese), Death Race 2000 (1975, produced by Roger Corman), 1976's Bound for Glory, for which he received high praise for his portrayal of Woody Guthrie, The Serpent's Egg (1977, directed by Ingmar Bergman) and Lone Wolf McQuade (1983). He also wrote a 1995 autobiography, Endless Highway. Carradine died in 2009 in a hotel room in Thailand, where he was found hung in a closet. Police first suggested the death was suicide, but an autopsy ruled he died by "accidental asphyxiation."
Carradine was the son of Hollywood veteran John Carradine and half-brother to actors Robert and Keith Carradine (with whom he appeared in the 1980 movie The Long Riders)… He attended San Francisco State University… Carradine was married five times and divorced four. The BBC reported at his death that he was survived by his fifth wife, Annie Bierman, “and three children including actresses Calista and Kansas.”
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