David Carradine found dead in Bangkok

'Kung Fu' star believed to have committed suicide

When Carradine was humbled

David Carradine, best known for his portrayal of the peaceful Kwai Chang Caine in the TV series "Kung Fu," was found dead Thursday in Bangkok. He was 72.

Carradine, whose career roared back to life when he played the assassin-turned-victim in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films, appeared to have hanged himself, police said.

The officer responsible for investigating the death, Teerapop Luanseng, said the actor was staying at a suite at the luxury Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel.

"I can confirm that we found his body, naked, hanging in the closet," Teerapop said.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Turner said the embassy was informed by Thai authorities that Carradine died late Wednesday or early Thursday, but he could not provide further details out of consideration for the family.

Carradine was in Bangkok shooting the movie "Stretch," manager Chuck Binder said. "We're very saddened. He was a wonderful guy," said Lori Binder, a partner in the agency that represented him.

The Web site of the Thai newspaper the Nation said Carradine could not be contacted after he failed to appear Wednesday for a meal with the rest of the film crew and that his body was found by a hotel maid at 10 a.m. Thursday.

It said a preliminary police investigation found that he had hanged himself with a cord used for the suite's curtains. It cited police as saying there was no sign that he had been assaulted.

Police said Carradine's body was taken to a hospital for an autopsy, which will be performed Friday.

"My Uncle David was a brilliantly talented, fiercely intelligent and generous man," said Carradine's niece Martha Plimpton. "He was the nexus of our family in so many ways, and drew us together over the years and kept us connected. I adored him as a child, and as an adult I admired and respected him. We will all miss him terribly, and are so grateful for everyone's condolences."

On "Kung Fu," which aired from 1972-75 on ABC, Carradine's Caine -- the renegade Shaolin priest from China who wandered the U.S. in the late 19th century searching for his older brother and helping those in need -- resonated with the countercultural zeitgeist and anti-Vietnam War sentiment.

While playing Caine, he wrote a book, "Spirit of the Shaolin," about the philosophy of kung fu. He also produced and starred in videos teaching tai chi and qi gong exercises.

After three years, Carradine left "Kung Fu" to pursue a film career.

Carradine later starred in the syndicated 1990s series "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues."

The oldest son of legendary actor John Carradine, he starred as Woody Guthrie in "Bound for Glory" (1976) and more recently in the title role in the "Kill Bill" films in 2003 and '04.

He won a Golden Globe for best actor in "Bound for Glory" and another for best supporting actor in "Kill Bill-Vol. 2." He also won a National Board of Review Award as best actor for "Bound for Glory."

In addition, he garnered two other Golden Globes: best supporting actor for the miniseries "North and South" and best actor in a TV drama for "Kung Fu."

He also won the People's Prize at Cannes in the Directors Fortnight for "Americana" (1983).

Carradine was born John Arthur Carradine on Dec. 8, 1936. He studied music at San Francisco State University. While scoring a revue for the department, Carradine became interested in acting and joined a Shakespeare company.

After a two-year stint in the Army, he moved to New York and worked as a commercial artist, then won a part on Broadway in "The Deputy" and "The Royal Hunt of the Sun," starring Christopher Plummer.

His first film role came in 1972, when he starred opposite Barbara Hershey as a bank robber in Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood movie, "Boxcar Bertha." The following year he had a role in "Mean Streets."

On the heels of his Caine fame, Carradine starred in a martial arts Zen fantasy, "Circle of Iron" (1978).

In contrast to that serene character, Carradine often played villains. He played an ex-con chasing after Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn in "Bird on a Wire." Among his other notable film credits was a turn opposite Charlton Heston as a Navy captain and inventor of a diving contraption in "Gray Lady Down." He played Cole Younger in "The Long Riders" (1980).

Carradine also starred in Ingmar Bergman's first English-language film, "The Serpent's Egg," and appeared in Robert Altman's take on Raymond Chandler, "The Long Goodbye."

More recently, he was host of "Wild West Tech" on the History Channel and performed in such productions as "How to Rob a Bank," "My Suicide," "Treasure Raiders" and "Ghosts of Les Cheris." In 2006, Carradine performed as Buckingham in "Richard III" and in 2005 as Clockwork in "Danny Phantom."

Throughout his acting career, Carradine continued his interest in music, singing in several movies. In addition, he recorded numerous tracks from several music genres.

Carradine was married five times, most recently to Annie Bierman. He had two daughters, Calista and Kansas.

With Hershey, he had a son who was named Seagull but who changed his named to Tom Carradine.

He is the half-brother of Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, Bruce Carradine and Michael Bowen and was the uncle of Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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