Dead, David Carradine on June 3, 2009 at the age of 72, he was an American actor and martial artist, best known for his leading role as a Shaolin peace-loving monk, Kwai Chang Caine, in the 1970s television series Kung Fu.
Born on December 8, 1936 as John Arthur Carradine in Hollywood, California, the oldest child of actor John Carradine and his wife Ardanelle McCool, he was a half-brother of Bruce, Keith, Christopher, and Robert Carradine, and an uncle of Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton.
David Carradine’s childhood was turbulent. His parents divorced and repeatedly remarried. He was born to his mother’s second marriage of three, and his father’s first of four.
At the time of their marriage, his mother already had a son by her first husband, whom John adopted. John Carradine planned a large family, but after his wife had a series of miscarriages, he discovered she had had numerous illegal abortions without his knowledge.
This rendered her unable to carry a baby to full term. Against this backdrop of marital discord, Jack almost succeeded in committing suicide by hanging at the age of five.
He said that the incident followed his discovery that he and his older half-brother Bruce, who had been adopted by John, had different biological fathers.
He attended Oakland Junior College (currently Laney 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.
For three seasons, David Carradine starred as a half-Chinese, half-white Shaolin monk, Kwai Chang Caine, on the ABC hit TV series Kung Fu (1972–1975) and was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award for the role.
The show, which took place in the Old West, helped to popularize the martial arts and Eastern philosophy in the west, and immortalized the character of Kwai Chang Caine, also referred to as “Grasshopper”, in popular culture.
Just before John Carradine died, late in 1988, David and his brother Keith Carradine were at his bedside.
Hours before he was stricken, he had climbed the 328 steep steps of Milan’s Gothic cathedral, the Duomo.
He had just finished a film in South Africa and was about to begin a European tour.
David was with him, reading William Shakespeare to him–by this time John was unable to speak–when he died.
While under the influence of peyote, a nude Carradine began wandering around his Laurel Canyon neighbourhood.
He broke into a neighbour’s home, shattering a window and cutting his arm.
He then bled all over the homeowner’s piano.
At some time during this episode he accosted two young women, allegedly assaulting one while asking, or demanding of her, if she was a witch.
The police literally followed a trail of blood to his home.
The burglary charges were dropped, as nothing was found to be missing, while Carradine pleaded “no contest” to the mischief charge and was given probation.