In Memoriam: David Carradine

downthetubes is very sorry to report the death of actor David Carradine, star of 1970s cult TV show Kung Fu, whose career saw a huge revival in recent years with an appearance in Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill.

As a teen of the 1970s, though, it is Kung Fu for which he will be best remembered by me. I recall being impressd to learn he took his role as Kwai Chang Caine, the half Asian hero on the run from both Chinese assasins and bounty hunters in the American West so seriously he as known to go barefoot for months to get into the role.

The BBC reported earlier today that the 72-year-old actor had been found dead in a Bangkok hotel room, discovered by a hotel maid sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and body.

His personal manager, Chuck Binder, described the news as”shocking”, adding: “He was full of life, always wanting to work… a great person.”

“David Carradine… was a sly, devilish, and at times downright freaky, movie presence who, when he appeared onscreen, automatically made matters twice as interesting,” notes Clark Collis for Entertainment Weekly. “Personally, I grew up believing David Carradine to be pretty much the coolest guy in show business, thanks to his starring role in the mayhem-filled Kung Fu. Many years later, I actually had the chance to interview him and found Carradine to be every bit as entertainingly colorful as his reputation would suggest…”

An actor who had appeared in over 200 films, he was known the world over for his work, but less widely known as a musician, composer, author, martial arts expert and visual artist.

Among various causes, David was a supporter of Food 4 Africa, an organization committed to working with other organizations to supply children with at least one vitamin and mineral enriched meal for every day.

Many downthetubes readers will recall Kung Fu not just as a TV series which ran for three seasons between 1972 and 1975 but as a stunning comic strip in the weekly Junior TV Times, Look-In, drawn largely by Martin Asbury. The strip, like the show, was superb and reprinted in Europe. It became Asbury’s regular work on the comic after he drew a Follyfoot strip, having previously drawn another TV series-inspired strip, Cannon, for TV Action.

Carradine will be much missed, his legacy as the quiet spoken action hero of Kung Fu never forgotten.

• David Carradine’s biography, Endless Highway, offers a revealing insight into the actor’s career.

David Carradine’s official web site

Kung Fu: Comic Strip Wiki

Kung Fu TV Series Memorabilia

Fox News: David Carradine Biography

Entertainment Weekly: David Carradine RIP

The Guardian: David Carradine: A Life in Clips

The son of Hollywood royalty, David Carradine amassed more than 200 screen credits in a career that ran from the 1960s to his death at the age of 72. Looking back on his career, he said: “It always seemed to me like a mission. A holy one – like the Blues Brothers.”

• David Carradine in Kill Bill, comparing Superman with Spider-Man…

Categories: Obituaries

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