A note on David Carradine’s official Website confirms that the 72-year-old actor, perhaps best known for his role as Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu, died June 3rd in Bankok. Carradine was on location in Thailand shooting a film called Stretch. According to a Thai police official, Carradine’s body was discovered hanging by a nylon rope in his closet at the Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel, CNN reports. An autopsy is being conducted and an investigation has begun, though there were no signs of forced entry.
Carradine, who played a kung fu master in the Jonas Brothers’ video for “Burnin’ Up,” came from fine theatrical stock. He was the son of legendary character actor John Carradine, and his brothers Keith (Dexter) and Robert (Revenge of the Nerds) are also actors. He is also the uncle of Ever Carradine (Party of Five) and Martha Plimpton (The Goonies). Carradine appeared in more than 100 films, and worked with such directors as Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, Quentin Tarantino and Hal Ashby.
While he was easily recognizable from recent appearances in Yellowbook and Lipton television spots, Carradine’s lengthy career was filled with memorable performances. Here are five must-see roles from the four-time Golden Globe-nominated Carradine’s impressive career:
Bill: In Quentin Tarantino’s two-part Kill Bill series (released in late 2003 and early 2004, respectively), Carradine plays “Snake Charmer,” the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Carradine’s portrayal of the heartless killer who puts a hit out on his pregnant lady love, The Bride (Uma Thurman), introduced him to a new generation.
Shane: Carradine played the title role in this American Western television series based on Jack Schaefer’s 1949 book. He was praised for bringing his role of a traveler and ex-gunfighter who defends a woman’s land from a ruthless baron to glorious life.
Kwai Chang Caine: Carradine starred in the long-running ’70s series Kung Fu as Caine, a Shaolin monk-trained journeyman who seeks out his half-brother, Danny Caine, and exacts justice along the way.
Woody Guthrie: In the 1976 biopic Bound for Glory, Carradine portrays the legendary folk singer as he attempted to bring attention to the desperate plight of the Okie Dust Bowl refugees in California during the Great Depression.
Poon Dong: In this year’s Crank: High Voltage, Carradine plays the 100-year-old head of the Chinese Triad, who orders his men to track down and remove (for transplantation in his own chest) the seemingly indestructible heart of Chev Chelios, played by Jason Statham.