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General information  

  • Real name : John Arthur Carradine
  • Place of birth : Los Angeles
  • Date of birth : 08/12/1936
  • Place of death : Bangkok
  • Date of death : 08/12/1936


  • Carradine David


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David Carradine (1936)

John Arthur Carradine

Type :  


David Carradine (born John Arthur Carradine; December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009) was an American actor and martial artist, best known for his role as a warrior monk, Kwai Chang Caine, in the 1970s television series, Kung Fu. He was a member of a productive acting family dynasty that began with his father, John Carradine. His acting career, which included major and minor roles on stage, television and cinema, spanned over four decades. A prolific "B" movie actor, he appeared in more than 100 feature films and was nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award. The last nomination was for his title role in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

Films that featured Carradine continued to be released long after his death. These posthumous credits were from a variety of genres including horror, action, western, martial arts, drama, science fiction and documentary. In addition to his acting career, Carradine was also a musician and pursued a directing career. Influenced by his most popular acting role, he studied martial arts. The child of a frequently married actor, "Jack", as Carradine was known in his youth, had an unstable childhood. This instability would continue throughout his life as he himself was married five times. He was also frequently arrested and prosecuted for a variety of offenses which often involved substance abuse. He died on June 3, 2009 under unusual circumstances.


 early life
He was born John Arthur Carradine in Hollywood, California, the son of Ardanelle "Abigail" (née McCool, 1911–1989) and actor John Carradine. He was a maternal half-brother of Bruce, paternal half-brother of Keith, Christopher and Robert Carradine, and an uncle of Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton. He was the great-grandson of Methodist evangelical author Beverly Carradine and the grandnephew of artist Will Foster.

Affectionately called "Jack" during his childhood years, Carradine's childhood was turbulent. Both of his parents repeatedly re-married. He was the product of his mother's second marriage of three, and his father's first of four. At the time his parents married each other, his mother already had a son, Bruce, by her first husband, whom John adopted. John Carradine planned a large family but, as his son explained in his autobiography, after his wife had a series of miscarriages, he discovered that she had had repeated illegal abortions without his knowledge. This rendered her unable to carry a baby to full term. It was with this backdrop of marital discord that at the age of 5, Jack almost succeeded in committing suicide by hanging. He said that the incident followed his discovery that he and Bruce had different biological fathers. He added that, "My father saved me, and then confiscated my comic book collection and burned it – which was scarcely the point".

After three years of marriage, Ardenelle Carradine filed for divorce from John, but the couple remained married for another five years. Divorce finally came in 1944, when Jack was seven years old. His father left California to avoid court action in the alimony settlement. After the couple engaged in a series of court battles over child custody and alimony, which at one point landed John in jail, Jack joined his father in New York City. By this time his father had remarried. For the next few years Jack was shuffled between boarding schools, foster homes and reform school. He also would often accompany his father while the elder Carradine performed summer theater throughout the Northeast. He spent time in Massachusetts and even one miserable winter milking cows on a farm in Vermont.

Eventually, Jack Carradine returned to California where he graduated from Oakland High School. He attended Oakland Junior College for a year before transferring to San Francisco State College where he studied drama and music theory. There he wrote music for the drama department's annual revues while juggling work at menial jobs, a fledgling stage acting career and his studies. After he dropped out of college, Carradine spent some time with the "beatniks" of San Francisco's North Beach and Venice, California. During this time he collected unemployment insurance and sold baby pictures. He was also prosecuted for disturbing the peace.

Despite an attempt to dodge the draft, in 1960 Carradine was inducted into the United States Army, where he drew pictures for training aids. That Christmas he married his high school sweetheart, Donna Lee Becht. While stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia he helped to establish a theater company which became known as the "entertainment unit". He met fellow inductee, Larry Cohen, who later cast him in Q, The Winged Serpent. He also faced court-martial for shoplifting. In 1962, Donna gave birth to their daughter, Calista. Carradine was honorably discharged after a two-year tour.

 music career
In addition to his acting career, David Carradine was also a musician. He sang and played the piano, the guitar and the flute among other instruments. He recorded an album titled Grasshopper, which was released on Jet Records in 1975. His musical talents were often integrated into his screen performances. He performed several of Woody Guthrie's songs for the movie Bound for Glory. For the Kung Fu series he made flutes out of bamboo that he had planted on the Warner Brothers lot which he played on the program. He later made several flutes for the movie Circle of Iron, one of which he later played in Kill Bill. Carradine wrote and performed the theme songs for at least two movies that he starred in, Americana, and Sonny Boy. The first line from the Sonny Boy theme, Paint, which he wrote while filming Americana in Drury, Kansas in 1973, is engraved on his headstone. He wrote and performed several songs for American Reel and wrote the score for You and Me. He and his brother, Robert, also performed with a band, the . The band primarily performed in small venues and benefits.

 personal life
Shortly after being drafted into the Army, in 1960, David Carradine proposed marriage to Donna Lee Becht , whom he met while they were students at Oakland High School. They were married on Christmas Day that year. She lived with him off base in Virginia, while he was stationed at Fort Eustis. In April, 1962, she gave birth to their daughter, Calista. After his discharge, they lived in New York as David established his acting career, appearing on Broadway in The Deputy and Royal Hunt of the Sun. The marriage dissolved in 1968. Carradine left New York at that point and headed back to California to continue his television and film careers.

In 1969, he met actress Barbara Hershey while the two of them were working on Heaven with a Gun. The pair began a domestic relationship that would last until 1975. They appeared in other films together including Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha. In 1972 they appeared in a nude Playboy spread, recreating some sex scenes from Boxcar Bertha. That year Hershey gave birth to their son, Free (who later changed his name to Tom, much to his father's chagrin).
The relationship fell apart, around the time of his 1974 burglary arrest, when Carradine began an affair with Season Hubley who had guest starred on Kung Fu. He was engaged to Hubley for a time, but they did not marry.

Carradine married his second wife, Linda, (née Linda Anne Gilbert, born March 16, 1950) the former wife of The Byrds lead guitarist, Roger McGuinn, in a civil ceremony, in Munich, Germany, immediately following the filming of The Serpent's Egg, in February, 1977. Their daughter, Kansas was born April 19, 1978. This marriage ended in divorce as did the two that followed. He was married to Gail Jensen from 1988–1997. She died in April, 2010, at the age of 60, of an alcohol related illness. He was also married to Marina Anderson from 1998–2001. By this time, Carradine had proclaimed himself to be a "serial monogamist".

On December 26, 2004, Carradine married the widowed Annie Bierman (née Anne Kirstie Fraser, born December 21, 1960) at the seaside Malibu home of his friend, Michael Madsen. Vicki Roberts, his attorney and longtime friend of his wife, performed the ceremony. With this marriage he acquired three stepdaughters, Amanda Eckelberry , Madeleine Rose and Olivia Juliette and a stepson, Max Richard .

On June 4, 2009, David Carradine was found dead in his room at the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel on Wireless Road, near Sukhumvit Road, in central Bangkok, Thailand. He was in Bangkok to shoot his latest film, Stretch. A police official said Carradine was found hanging by a rope naked in the room's closet, causing immediate speculation that his death was suicide. However, reported evidence suggested that his death was the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. Two autopsies were conducted and concluded that the death was not caused by suicide. The cause of death became widely accepted as "accidental asphyxiation".

Immediately following his death, two of his former wives, Gail Jensen and Marina Anderson, stated publicly that his sexual interests included the practice of self-bondage. Anderson, who had plans to publish a tell-all book about her marriage to Carradine, said in an interview with Access Hollywood, "There was a dark side to David, there was a very intense side to David. People around him know that." Previously in her divorce filing she had claimed that "It was the continuation of abhorrent and deviant sexual behavior which was potentially deadly."

Photographs of Carradine at the death scene, as well as photographs of his autopsied body, were circulated in newspapers and on the Internet. His family, represented by his brothers, Keith and Robert, pleaded with the public and the press to let them mourn their loved one in peace.

Carradine's funeral was held on June 13, 2009 in Los Angeles. His bamboo casket was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. Among the many stars and family members that attended his private memorial were Tom Selleck, Lucy Liu, Frances Fisher, James Cromwell, Steve Railsback, and Chris Potter. His grave was marked on December 3, 2009. The monument proclaimed him to be "The Barefoot Legend" and included a quote from "Paint", a song he wrote and performed as the theme to Sonny Boy, as an epitaph.

 Controversies after death
On the first anniversary of his death, Carradine's widow, Annie, announced that she had filed a lawsuit for wrongful death against the company that produced the film that Carradine was working on at the time of his death. The lawsuit claimed that the company failed to provide assistance to the actor that had been agreed upon in his contract. "The suit alleges, the assistant left him behind for dinner on the night before the actor was found dead. The assistant and other film staffers apparently could not reach Carradine, and decided to leave without him. Carradine called the assistant an hour later but was told the group was across town and he would have to make his own arrangements that evening." Annie Carradine reached a settlement with MK2 Productions in August 2011. She is reported to be receiving about $400,000 US from the company for Carradine's death.
Also, in June 2010, Marina Anderson, Carradine's fourth ex-wife, published David Carradine: The Eye of My Tornado, a book that discusses intimate details of their marriage. She also claimed publicly that she had conducted her own investigation of his death, and concluded that he was murdered.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "David Carradine", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.