David Carradine
Birth Date:
December 8, 1936
Birth Place:
Hollywood, California, USA
6' ½''
Famous for:
His role as Kwai Chang Caine in the series Kung Fu
San Francisco State University (studied drama before working as an actor on stage as well as in television and cinema)
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Kwai Chang


“I remember when I did the pilot, and I thought no network is going to want to do this. How could that happen? A half Chinese guy walking the old west that doesn't fire one gun and never gets on a horse?” David Carradine on his role in “Kung Fu” (1972-1975)

For most TV viewers, David Carradine is most likely to be identified as Kwai Chang Caine from the series “Kung Fu” (1972-1975), a role which became the 91st character in Bravo’s “100 Greatest TV Characters.” For his good performance in the series, Carradine took home a TP de Oro Award, as well as an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination. Shortly after, the actor was given a National Board of Review Award and a Golden Globe nomination for starring as folk singer Woody Guthrie in the biopic Bound for Glory (1976). In the 2000s, Carradine enhanced his status as an excellent actor with the villainous title role in Quentin Tarantino’s two-part thriller Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol.2 (2004, won a Saturn Award and earned a Golden Globe nomination).

Off screen, Carradine, who in 1997 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, formerly had a psychedelic lifestyle and was first arrested for disturbing the peace in the early 1960s. He was then convicted of drunk driving in October 1989. However, his involvement in “Kung Fu” (1972) left him fascinated with Eastern philosophies and cultures. He then studied the Asian martial arts, wrote the philosophical “Spirit Of The Shaolin” and made several tai chi videos.

Carradine has also written an autobiography titled “Endless Highway” (1995) and “The Kill Bill Diary: The Making of a Tarantino Classic as Seen Through the Eyes of a Screen Legend” (released on November 1, 2006). Recently, he appeared as a martial arts sensei in a commercial for the Yellow Book.

Carradine was married to Donna Lee Becht (in 1960, divorced, has a child), Linda Gilbert (1977-1983, has a child), Gail Jensen (1988-1997) and Coco d’Este (1998-2001), before marrying Annie Bierman (2004-now). The actor has two daughters and a son.


Childhood and Family:

Born on December 8, 1936, in Hollywood, John Arthur Carradine (later famous as David Carradine) is the son of noted American actor John Carradine and the half-brother of Keith Carradine, Robert Carradine, Bruce Carradine, and Michael Bowen. He is of Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Cherokee and Italian descent.

“I actually went to art school. I studied music formally. I was probably less formal about my study of acting than anything.” David Carradine on his educational background

Living as a drifter, David once stayed in New York City, attended California’s Oakland High School and then studied Music Theory and Composition at San Francisco State University. He briefly worked as a manual laborer and served in the US Army before pursuing an acting career as a New York commercial artist.

David has been married five times. He previously tied the wedding knot with Donna Lee Becht (in 1960, divorced, has a child), Linda Gilbert (1977-1983, has a child), Gail Jensen (1988-1997), and Coco d’Este (1998-2001). Now, he lives with wife Annie Bierman (married in December 2004) in Los Angeles. David is the father of daughters Calista Miranda Carradine (born in 1962) and Kansas Carradine (born in 1978), as well as son Tom Carradine (born Free Carradine, from his relationship with Barbara Hershey).

Kill Bill


In New York, David Carradine made his Broadway debut with a role in “The Deputy” (1963) and performed in eleven productions of Shakespeare’s plays. At the same time, he also tried his luck on TV with small roles in series like “Armstrong Circle Theatre” (1963) and “Arrest and Trial” (1964), which was followed by a movie debut in Taggart (1964, appeared as Cal Dodge). He then scored a modest success after acting opposite Christopher Plummer in the Broadway production of “The Royal Hunt of the Sun” (1965).

In 1966, Carradine acquired his first leading role in the ABC western drama series “Shane,” playing the title role. It was followed by his performance in his first TV movie titled Johnny Belinda (1967, as Locky), western films like Young Billy Young (1969) and The McMasters (1970), as well as the hippie-themed ABC drama film Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring (1971).

Carradine rapidly built his fame as Kwai Chang Caine, a half-breed monk who wandered the Western world armed only with his martial arts skills, in the notable series “Kung Fu” (1972-1975, also directed several episodes). His impressive performance earned him a TP de Oro award, as well as an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Later, the actor reprised the famous role in the self-produced Kung Fu: The Movie (1986, TV), Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1992, TV) and the syndicated series “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues” (1993-1997, also credited as a writer).

Also in 1972, Carradine worked with director Martin Scorsese and costarred as ‘Big’ Bill Shelly, opposite Barbara Hershey, in the fact-based Boxcar Bertha. He next played a drunk in Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973). Two years later, Carradine directed himself in the Robert Henderson-written drama You and Me (1975).

Giving a superb portrayal of folk singer Woody Guthrie in the biopic Bound for Glory (1976), Carradine was awarded a National Board of Review and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Subsequent to The Serpent’s Egg (1977) and Circle of Iron (1978), the performer directed Mata Hari (1978) and took part in the foreign film Je te tiens, tu me tiens par la barbichette (1979).

Next, Carradine acted and composed the song “Man” for Cloud Dancer (1980), guest starred in “Darkroom” (1981), played a detective in Q (1982), took on multiple tasks in the drama Americana (1983, directed, edited, produced, acted and sang) and guest starred in “The Fall Guy” (1983, 1984). Making his miniseries debut, Carradine took home a Golden Globe nomination for his fine portrayal of Justin LaMotte in the American Civil War-set “North and South” (1985). The same role was recreated in the spin-off miniseries “North and South, Book II” (1986).

Besides acting, the actor also served as a producer for such movies as Crime Zone (1988), Crime of Crimes (1989), Future Force (1990) and Project Eliminator (1991). He was then involved in less significant projects like Evil Toons (1992), Bitter End (1993) and Dead Center (1994). In 1996, Carradine provided his vocals for additional voices in the animated series “Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys.”

Following The Rage (1997) and The New Swiss Family Robinson (1998), Carradine guest starred as Tempus in the well-known supernatural series “Charmed” (1999) and was seen as Andrew Weller in three episodes of “Family Law” (2000). He also played himself in the teen series “Lizzie McGuire” (2001) and voiced a Japanese character named Junichiro in the cartoon show “King of the Hill” (2002).

Carradine’s popularity was resurrected after Quentin Tarantino cast him to play the titular villain in the Uma Thurman-starring two-part hit thriller Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Kill Bill: Vol.2 (2004, also sang “The Legend of Pai Mai” for the soundtrack). Thanks to his captivating performance, the actor was given a Saturn award and was nominated for a Golden Globe, an Online Film Critics Society award and a Golden Satellite award. He later took a part in the animated series “Danny Phantom” (2005, voiced Clockwork) and the miniseries “Son of the Dragon” (2006).

The voice of William Sharp in the video game Saints Row (2006) will be seen as Buckingham in the self-executive produced Richard III (2006) and an old man in the black comedy What We Did on Our Holidays (2006). Still in 2006, Carradine is set to appear in such movies as My Suicide, How to Rob a Bank, Homo Erectus, and Treasure Raiders. The actor will also resume his acting journey in Camille (2007), Fall Down Dead (2007), Big Stan (2007), Being Michael Madsen (2007) and Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter (2007, as Mikhail).


  • Saturn: Best Supporting Actor, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, 2005
  • National Board of Review: Best Actor, Bound for Glory, 1976
  • TP de Oro (Spain): Best Foreign Actor, “Kung Fu,” 1974
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Legendary actor David Carradine was found dead in a hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand this morning.Acc...
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