David Carradine


Actor
David Carradine

About

Also Known As
John Arthur Carradine
Birth Place
Hollywood, California, USA
Born
December 08, 1936
Died
June 03, 2009
Cause of Death
Accidental Asphyxiation

Biography

A leading and supporting player in television and movies, actor David Carradine rose to fame with his iconic role, Kwai Chang Caine, the half-Asian student of life on the popular TV series, "Kung Fu" (ABC, 1972-75), a role he would go on to reprise for a syndicated series in the late 1990s. The son of legendary actor John Carradine, he excelled at playing villains in action and terror fi...

Family & Companions

Kate Scott
Companion
Actor.
Donna Trent
Wife
Married in 1961; divorced; mother of Calista Carradine.
Jenny
Companion
Nude model. Carradine refers to her in his memoir.
Barbara Hershey
Companion
Actor. Lived together from 1969-75; mother of Carradine's son Tom/Free.

Bibliography

"Endless Highway"
David Carradine, Journey Editions (1995)
"The Spirit of Shaolin"
David Carradine, Charles Tuttle (1991)
"Troublemaker"
David Carradine and Christopher Sergel

Notes

Carradine has been at work on a film entitled "Mata Hari" since 1977. The film features his daughter Calista.

Biography

A leading and supporting player in television and movies, actor David Carradine rose to fame with his iconic role, Kwai Chang Caine, the half-Asian student of life on the popular TV series, "Kung Fu" (ABC, 1972-75), a role he would go on to reprise for a syndicated series in the late 1990s. The son of legendary actor John Carradine, he excelled at playing villains in action and terror films which, unfortunately, were often relegated to the straight-to-video shelf. Almost as famous as his Kung Fu persona, was his psychedelic lifestyle and devotion to Eastern philosophy, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s when Carradine seemed more engaged in his alternative lifestyle than in furthering his career - with the possible exceptions of his starring role as folk singer Woody Guthrie in the Oscar-nominated "Bound for Glory" (1976) and a turn in Ingmar Bergman's confusing "The Serpent's Egg" (1977). After two decades of relative quiet, Carradine found new life as the titular assassin in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" (2004). He went on to recur on the popular series, "Alias" (ABC, 2001-06) and play the head of the Chinese Triad in the action thriller "Crank: High Voltage" (2009). But his resurgence was cut short following a tragic death under unusual circumstances, leaving fans wondering what else the venerable actor might have had in store.

Carradine was born Dec. 8, 1936 in Hollywood but raised in Manhattan, the eldest son in an acting brood that included famous half-siblings, Keith and Robert. Educated at San Francisco State University, he studied music theory and composition. It was while writing music for the drama department's annual revues, that he discovered his own passion for the stage, joining a Shakespearean repertory company and learning his craft on his feet. It was while sporadically attending college, during which he worked as a manual laborer, that he began openly experimenting with drugs. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, he found work in New York as a commercial artist and got his first taste of fame on Broadway in "The Deputy" and "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" opposite Christopher Plummer. In 1964, he also made his feature film debut with a bit part in "Taggart," a western based on a novel by Louis L'Amour. Carradine next inherited Alan Ladd's role of a fading gunslinger for the small screen version of "Shane" (ABC, 1966), a production that failed in the ratings despite predictions to the contrary.

Nevertheless, the actor found constant employment in a string of forgettable films, with the occasional masterpiece. Martin Scorsese tapped the actor to play a railroad union organizer in "Boxcar Bertha" (1972) and then cast him in a small but memorable role as a drunk who is shot while urinating in one of Scorsese's first classics, "Mean Streets" (1973). By the time the latter was released, Carradine was starring as the Martial artist on the popular TV series, "Kung Fu." The part catapulted Carradine to a whole new level, and so began the actor's life-long obsession with the Martial arts, an interest which would years later, result in the release of several exercise videos teaching the martial arts of Tai chi and Qi Gong exercises, which the actor would produce and star in. After only three seasons on his star-making show, he left to pursue a film career. Moving behind the camera, Carradine directed and starred in the little seen "You and Me" (1975). After his success with "Bound for Glory," it appeared as if Carradine was headed for more mainstream movie stardom, but his subsequent vehicles were lacking. Only Walter Hill's 1980 Western, "The Long Riders," which used the gimmick of teaming filmdom's real-life brother acts - the Carradines, the Quaids and the Keachs - onscreen as brothers, was above average. His second attempt in the director's chair, "Americana" (1983) also met with a less than stellar reception.

As an actor, however, Carradine continued to churn out genre fare to varying degrees of success. On the big screen, he was the villain tracked by Chuck Norris in "Lone Wolf McQuade" (1982) and an evil German soldier in "The Misfit Brigade/Wheels of Terror" (1987). Carradine continued his low-grade film streak with such efforts as "Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat" (1990), "Dune Warriors" (1991) and "Waxwork II" (1992). In 1997, he filmed roles in "Macon County Jail," opposite Ally Sheedy and "The New Swiss Family Robinson" with Jane Seymour. From there, Carradine's career continued seemingly on autopilot through a variety of forgettable, direct-to-video thrillers, low-grade foreign films and TV guest spots which almost always played on his familiar "Kung Fu" past. Occasionally those guest spots would showcase Carradine's largely untapped dramatic abilities and charisma, such as his recurring guest spots as Andrew Weller on the second season of the legal drama "Family Law" (CBS, 1999-2002). Surprisingly, he also ran against type by guesting as an old friend of Hilary Duff's father, Carradine's real-life half-brother Robert, in an episode of the Disney Channel's frothy tween sitcom "Lizzie McGuire" (2001-04).

Back to his Martial arts roots, thanks to director and fan Quentin Tarantino, Carradine finally had a chance to both revisit past glories and reinvent himself when he was cast as the enigmatic assassin leader Bill in the director's violent exploitation homage, "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003) and its sequel, "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" (2004). The movies were a dual sensation, bringing the actor a new legion of younger fans who were not even alive during Carradine's "Kung Fu" run. Suddenly cool again, Carradine began landing commercial spots and high profile guest appearances on such hip television shows as the Jennifer Garner spy series "Alias" (ABC, 2001-06) and the Patricia Arquette thriller, "Medium" (NBC, 2005-2011). In the two-part television movie, "Son of the Dragon" (Hallmark Channel, 2008), Carradine was an aging con artist who helps a younger thief (John Henry Reardon) swindle his way into the heart of a rich princess (Desiree Siahaan), only to find his protégé falling in love for real.

Though flying under the radar post-"Kill Bill," Carradine nonetheless kept up an exhaustive schedule of film and television projects. He once again returned to his roots with "Kung Fu Killer" (Spike TV, 2008), playing a martial arts expert in 1920s China, seeking revenge against the man (Lim Kay Tong) who killed his mentor. After a small role in the biker flick "Hell Ride" (2008), Carradine shifted gears to romantic comedy with "The Golden Boys" (2009), playing a retired sea captain competing against two other aging seafarers (Rip Torn and Bruce Dern) to lure an attractive middle-age woman (Mariel Hemingway) into marriage. For the action sequel, "Crank: High Voltage" (2009), he was the 100-year-old elder of a Chinese triad, hunting down a hit man (Jason Stratham) with a battery-operated heart.

Meanwhile, in a sudden and tragic twist of fate, while beginning production on his latest film, "Stretch" in Bangkok, Thailand, Carradine was found dead in his hotel wardrobe closet, a rope hung around his neck. Originally reported as a possible suicide by Bangkok police, his extended family and close friends disputed the very idea, saying he would never take his own life. Almost a month after the the actor's untimely demise, pathologists revealed the official cause of death of the 72-year-old actor as asphyxiation with no apparent intention of suicide, due to the way he hands were bound above his head. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden who performed the family's requested second autopsy gave the official statement: "He didn't die of natural causes, and he didn't die of suicidal causes from the nature of the ligatures around the body, so that leaves some kind of accidental death."

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Americana (1981)
Director
Mata Hari (1978)
Director
You and Me (1975)
Director
Around (1972)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

True Legend (2011)
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)
Himself
Autumn (2010)
Dinocroc vs. Supergator (2010)
Treasure Raiders (2009)
Absolute Evil (2009)
Fall Down Dead (2009)
Crank: High Voltage (2009)
The Golden Boys (2009)
Kandisha (2009)
Archie's Final Project (2009)
Road of No Return (2009)
Dark Fields (2009)
Kung Fu Killer (2008)
Big Stan (2008)
Hell Ride (2008)
Camille (2008)
Richard III (2008)
National Lampoon's Stoned Age (2008)
Miracle at Sage Creek (2007)
Fuego (2007)
How to Rob a Bank (2007)
Epic Movie (2007)
Son of the Dragon (2006)
Brothers in Arms (2005)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Hair High (2004)
Voice Of Mr Snerz
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Natural Selection (2003)
Dehoven
The Outsider (2002)
By Dawn's Early Light (2001)
The Warden of Red Rock (2001)
Knocking on Death's Door (2000)
Doc Hadley
Isaac Asimov's Nightfall (2000)
The New Swiss Family Robinson (1999)
Sheldon Blake
Macon County Jail (1999)
Knock on Death's Door (1999)
Shepherd (1999)
Out of the Wilderness (1998)
Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
Luke
The Rage (1998)
Last Stand at Saber River (1997)
Capital Punishment (1996)
Distant Justice (1995)
Karate Cop (1993)
Kill Zone (1993)
Field of Fire (1992)
General Corman
Dead Center (1992)
Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992)
Night Rhythms (1992)
Vincent Machelli
Animal Instincts (1992)
Evil Toons (1991)
Deadly Surveillance (1991)
Dune Warriors (1991)
Michael
Brotherhood of the Gun (1991)
Artemis Mcbride
Double Trouble (1991)
Mr C
Roadside Prophets (1991)
Othello Jones
Bird On A Wire (1990)
Midnight Fear (1990)
Sheriff Steve Hanley
Think Big (1990)
John Sweeney
Sonny Boy (1990)
Pearl
Martial Law (1990)
Dalton Rhodes
Night Children (1989)
Fatal Secret (1989)
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989)
Project: Eliminator (1989)
Sauf votre respect (1989)
Bradley
Tropical Snow (1989)
The Cover Girl and the Cop (1989)
Nowhere to Run (1989)
Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989)
Crime Zone (1989)
Jason
I Saw What You Did (1988)
Stephen Lancer
The Misfit Brigade (1988)
Six Against the Rock (1987)
Bernard Coy
Armed Response (1986)
Oceans Of Fire (1986)
P.O.W. the Escape (1986)
Kung Fu: The Movie (1986)
The Bad Seed (1985)
On the Line (1985)
Safari 3000 (1984)
Eddie Miles
Jealousy (1984)
A Distant Scream (1983)
Lone Wolf Mcquade (1983)
The Warrior and the Sorceress (1983)
Kain
Trick or Treats (1982)
Q (1982)
Americana (1981)
Gauguin the Savage (1980)
Cloud Dancer (1980)
The Long Riders (1980)
Circle Of Iron (1979)
Blind Man; Changsha; Death; Jungar
Thunder and Lightning (1978)
Harley Thomas
Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel (1978)
Himself
Deathsport (1978)
Fast Charlie - The Moonbeam Rider (1978)
The Serpent's Egg (1977)
Cannonball (1976)
Bound for Glory (1976)
Death Race 2000 (1975)
Frankenstein
You and Me (1975)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Mean Streets (1973)
Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Big Bill Shelly
Kung Fu (1972)
Caine
Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (1971)
Flack
The McMasters (1970)
White Feather
Macho Callahan (1970)
Col. David Mountford
Heaven With a Gun (1969)
Coke Beck
Young Billy Young (1969)
Jesse Boone
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
Waco
The Violent Ones (1967)
Lucas Barnes
Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965)
Stretch
Taggart (1964)
Cal Dodge

Producer (Feature Film)

Fall Down Dead (2009)
Associate Producer
Richard III (2008)
Executive Producer
Project: Eliminator (1989)
Associate Producer
Kung Fu: The Movie (1986)
Coproducer
Americana (1981)
Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Americana (1981)
Editor

Music (Feature Film)

Sonny Boy (1990)
Theme Song
Maniac Cop (1988)
Song Performer
Americana (1981)
Music
Americana (1981)
Song
Cloud Dancer (1980)
Song

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)
Other
Roger Corman: Hollywood's Wild Angel (1978)
Other

Cast (Special)

Fast Life/Untimely Death: Playmate Claudia Jennings: The E! True Hollywood Story (2000)
Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary Primetime Special (1999)
Masters of the Martial Arts Presented by Wesley Snipes (1998)
Too Hot to Skate (1997)
Mr Big
Don Johnson's Music Video Feature Heartbeat (1987)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Sublet (1999)
Lost Treasure of Dos Santos (1997)
Kiss of a Stranger (1997)
Future Zone (1990)
John Tucker
Future Force (1989)
North and South: Book II (1986)
North and South (1985)

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Future Force (1989)
Associate Producer

Life Events

1963

Broadway debut, "The Deputy"

1964

First episodic work, "Arrest and Trial" (ABC)

1964

First film appearance (in bit part) "Taggart"

1965

Appeared on Broadway in "The Royal Hunt of the Sun"

1966

Made series debut in the ABC Western, "Shane"

1971

TV-movie debut, "Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring" (ABC)

1972

Starred as Caine in the ABC drama series, "Kung Fu"; also directed several episodes

1972

First worked with Martin Scorsese on "Boxcar Bertha"

1973

Had memorable bit part in "Mean Streets"

1975

Film directing debut "You and Me" (also scripted and co-starred)

1976

Played Woody Guthrie in "Bound for Glory"

1977

Began directing the unfinished film, "Mata Hari"

1979

Starred in the TV-movie "Mr. Horn" (CBS)

1982

Played the villain tracked by Chuck Norris in "Lone Wolf McQuade"

1983

Second directing effort, "Americana"

1985

Miniseries debut, "North and South" (ABC)

1987

Portrayed an evil German soldier in "The Misfit Brigade/Wheels of Terror"

1990

Appeared in "Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat"

1993

Reprised role of Caine in syndicated series, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"

1997

Co-starred with Ally Sheedy in "Macon County Jail"

1997

Received star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (April)

2000

Guested as Andrew Weller on the second season of the legal drama "Family Law" (CBS)

2003

Had a recurring role as Conrad on the ABC series, "Alias"

2003

Cast as the assassin leader Bill in writer-director Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 1"; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor

2004

Reprised role of Bill for Tarantino's "Kill Bill Vol.2"

2004

Hosted "Wild West Tech" on the History Channel

2007

Had a small role in the comedy spoof, "Epic Movie"

2007

Co-starred with James Franco and Sienna Miller in "Camille"

2008

Starred in the original movie miniseries, "Kung Fu Killer" (Spike)

Photo Collections

Sonny Boy - Movie Poster
Sonny Boy - Movie Poster
Death Race 2000 - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 (1975). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Boxcar Bertha (1972) - Leave It To Harvey Rake (Barry Primus), Von (Bernie Casey) and Bill (David Carradine), all friends of Barbara Hershey (title character), have wound up on the same chain gang, guarded by lame Harvey (Harry Northrup), in Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha, 1972.
Boxcar Bertha (1972) - Thing Called The Depression As the credits finish, wandering Barbara Hershey (title character) finds friend Big Bill (David Carradine) doing some labor organizing, before they escape together, in Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha, 1972.
Good Guys And The Bad Guys, The (1969) - Opening, Marshal Flagg Opening with the custom-written title song (by William Lava and Ned Washington, sung by Glenn Yarbrough), exploiting the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, which was what drew writer-producers Ronald Cohen and Dennis Shryack to Chama, New Mexico, and introducing Robert Mitchum, in The Good Guys And The Bad Guys, 1969.
Good Guys And The Bad Guys, The (1969) - Stay Here And Hold His Hand Kicked out of his job as marshal in nearby Progress but determined to stop the gang that includes washed-up bandit McKay (George Kennedy), Flagg (Robert Mitchum) attempts an arrest but is thwarted by Deuce (John Davis Chandler) and his self-assured boss Waco (David Carradine), in The Good Guys And The Bad Guys, 1969.
Bound For Glory (1976) - 30 More Pickers For Today Famous shot from Bound For Glory, 1976, Hal Ashby directing David Carradine as folk singer Woody Guthrie, in a California labor camp, with pal Randy Quaid, the first use of a Steadicam in a major motion picture, by inventor and operator Garrett Brown.
Bound For Glory (1976) - Oklahoma Hills Musician and union activist Ozark (Ronny Cox) rescues new pal Woody Guthrie (David Carradine) as the strike breakers descend on a California farm labor camp, then introduces him to a radio producer (John Lehne), in Hal Ashby's Bound For Glory, 1976.
Bound For Glory (1976) - Fortune Teller Opening scene from director Hal Ashby, Woody Guthrie (David Carridine) and pals meet an inquisitive businessman (Beeson Carroll), in Pampa, Texas, 1936, in the bio-pic Bound For Glory, 1976.
Bound For Glory (1976) - Union Maid Director Hal Ashby recreates the on-the-spot composition of the union anthemn Union Maid in a California labor camp, David Carradine as Woody Guthrie, Ronny Cox as colleague Ozark Bule, in Bound for Glory, 1976
Boxcar Bertha (1972) - I'll Bring You A Star The prologue from Martin Scorsese's Roger Corman quickie, Barbara Hershey (title character) gazing skyward at her crop-dusting dad, with mechanic Von (Bernie Casey), Big Bill (David Carradine) working nearby, opening Boxcar Bertha, 1972.
Heaven With A Gun - We Play For High Stakes Locally presumed to be a hired gun, preacher Killian (Glenn Ford) plays poker with local bully Coke (David Carradine), saloon keeper Madge (Carolyn Jones) intervening just in time, in Heaven With A Gun, 1969.
Long Riders, The - Little Old Me Memorable David Carradine (as "Cole Younger") scene in which he finds Belle (Pamela Reed) and her new native husband (James Remar) in a Texas saloon in Walter Hill's The Long Riders, 1980.
Long Riders, The - Northfield Wild sound effects and slo-mo in a piece of the action as the James (Keach), Younger (Carradine) and other brothers attempt to escape Northfield, Minnesota in Walter Hill's The Long Riders, 1980.

Trailer

Promo

Family

John Carradine
Father
Actor. Born on February 5, 1906; died on November 27, 1988.
Ardanelle McCool
Mother
Married John Carradine in 1935; divorced in 1944; died on January 27, 1989 of brain aneurysm; Carradine revealed that his mother underwent a number of abortions at his father's request.
Bruce Carradine
Half-Brother
Actor. Born on April 10, 1933; mother, Ardanelle McCool; adopted by John Carradine.
Christopher John Carradine
Half-Brother
Architect. Born c. 1947; mother, Sonia Sorel; worked for Walt Disney Co.
Keith Ian Carradine
Half-Brother
Actor, songwriter. Born on August 8, 1949; mother, Sonia Sorel; won Oscar for song "I'm Easy".
Robert Reed Carradine
Half-Brother
Actor. Born on March 24, 1954; mother, Sonia Sorel.
Michael Bowen
Half-Brother
Actor. Mother, Ardanelle McCool.
Calista Carradine
Daughter
Actor. Born in 1963; mother, Donna Trent; appeared on "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" with Carradine and in his uncompleted feature "Mata Hari"; has at least two children, daughters Mariah and Siena.
Free Carradine
Son
Born on October 9, 1972; mother, Barbara Hershey.
Kansas Carradine
Daughter
Born on April 19, 1978.

Companions

Kate Scott
Companion
Actor.
Donna Trent
Wife
Married in 1961; divorced; mother of Calista Carradine.
Jenny
Companion
Nude model. Carradine refers to her in his memoir.
Barbara Hershey
Companion
Actor. Lived together from 1969-75; mother of Carradine's son Tom/Free.
Season Hubley
Companion
Actor.
Linda Carradine
Wife
Married on February 2, 1977; divorced; suffered with mental problems and was hospitalized.
Gail Jensen
Wife
Manager. Met in 1986; married December 4, 1988; divorced in March 1997.
Marina Anderson
Wife
Actor. Announced engagement in October 1997; married on February 20, 1998; separated on May 10, 2001; she filed for divorce in June 2001.

Bibliography

"Endless Highway"
David Carradine, Journey Editions (1995)
"The Spirit of Shaolin"
David Carradine, Charles Tuttle (1991)
"Troublemaker"
David Carradine and Christopher Sergel

Notes

Carradine has been at work on a film entitled "Mata Hari" since 1977. The film features his daughter Calista.