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John Arthur Carradine

Also Known As: "John Arthur Carradine", "Jack Carradine", "John A. Carradine", "Mr. Cool", "Jack"
Birthplace: Hollywood, California, United States
Death: June 03, 2009 (72)
Bangkok (Krung Thep Mahanakhon), Thailand (Autoerotic asphyxiation)
Place of Burial: Hollywood, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Carradine and Ardanelle Abigail McCool
Husband of Linda Gilbert; Donna Lea Becht; Private and Private
Ex-husband of Private
Ex-partner of Barbara Hershey
Father of Thomas (Tom) Carradine; Kansas Carradine; Private; Private and Calista Carradine
Half brother of Private User; Private; Keith Carradine and Robert Reed (Bobby) Carradine

Occupation: Actor, Martial Artist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Television Director, Film Producer, Television producer, Film director, Voice Actor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About David Carradine

David Carradine (born John Arthur Carradine; December 8, 1936 – June 3, 2009) was an American actor and martial artist, best known for his leading role as a warrior monk, Kwai Chang Caine, in the 1970s television series Kung Fu. He was a member of a productive acting family 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 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 son of a frequently married actor, he 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, from asphyxiation.


A leading and supporting player in television and movies, 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. Almost as famous as his Kung Fu persona, was his psychedelic lifestyle and devotion to Eastern philosophy, particularly in the 1960s and '70s 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). For his contribution to the television industry, David Carradine received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

He was born John Arthur Carradine on December 8, 1936 in Hollywood, California, the son of Ardanelle "Abigail" (née McCool) and legendary actor John Carradine. He had a brother, Bruce, and three half-brothers, Keith, Christopher and Robert Carradine and was uncle to Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton. Carradine was the great-grandson of Methodist evangelical author Beverly Carradine and the grandnephew of artist Will Foster.

From a young age, Carradine was interested in becoming a fine artist. Learning from his father, who was a sculptor before becoming an actor, the young David started creating his own sculptures at the age of four. Despite his color blindness, Carradine persisted with art, and was constantly painting, sculpting and drawing as a youth. But while he dreamed of becoming a full-time artist, he also found he had a knack for acting.

His theatre career began at San Francisco State College, where he studied drama as well as fine art. Carradine was soon performing in the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and Ohio's Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival.

He continued to perform during his stint in the military, acting producing, directing and performing in musicals and dramas for the U.S. Army Entertainment Unit. After his honorable discharge from the military, Carradine headed to New York, where he got a job with an art agency. He quit, however, when he got his first acting gig: a production of Hamlet in a New Jersey shopping mall. A year later, he was starring on Broadway.

Carradine's big break on the small screen came in 1972, when he was chosen to play martial arts master Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s television series Kung Fu. He also earned a name for himself playing vagabonds and folk heroes in films such as Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha (1972) and 1976's Bound for Glory . In more recent years, he starred as the mysterious Bill in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Vol. 1(2003) and its popular sequel Kill Bill, Vol.2 (2004).

On June 4, 2009, Carradine was found dead in a Bangkok, Thailand, hotel room. Early reports say the actor hung himself in a closet, using a curtain cord as a noose. He was in the city to shoot his latest film, Stretch. Carradine was 72 years old at the time of his death.

Carradine was married five times and had two daughters, Calista and Kansas. His most recent marriage was in 2004 to Annie Bierman.

  • Ethnicity: Scottish American
  • Residence: Massachusetts
  • Residence: North Beach
  • Residence: Venice
  • Residence: New York City
  • Residence: Fort Eustis
  • Residence: Vermont
  • Residence: Hollywood
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David Carradine's Timeline

December 8, 1936
Hollywood, California, United States
April 1962
May 1978
June 3, 2009
Age 72
Bangkok (Krung Thep Mahanakhon), Thailand
June 13, 2009
Age 72
Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood, California, United States