Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Grasshopper dead
June 4, 2009 7:29 AM   Subscribe

Kwai Chang Caine, aka Grasshopper, aka David Carradine has been found dead in a Bangkok hotel room. Bummer.
posted by Shike (189 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit.


.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:32 AM on June 4, 2009


sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and genitals

!
posted by RussHy at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2009


did it used to say genitals? It now says "neck and body"
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 AM on June 4, 2009


Yeah, around the genitals? what.

The Web site of the newspaper The Nation cited unidentified police sources as saying Carradine was found Thursday hanged in his luxury hotel room and is believed to have committed suicide.




.
posted by defenestration at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2009


jessamyn: "did it used to say genitals? It now says "neck and body""

It did, indeed.
posted by defenestration at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by josher71 at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2009


yes it did.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:36 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm trying to come up with a good kill bill joke....





I got nothing.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sad sad sad.
posted by mattbucher at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2009


Foul play or auto-erotic asphyixation?
posted by alzi at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2009


Well, the genitals are on the body. . . . anyhow, despite the bowdlerization, it sounds more like a recreational mishap than a suicide.

.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]



I'm trying to come up with a good kill bill joke....

Not a Kill Bill joke, just a demonstration of how awesome David Carradine was.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:39 AM on June 4, 2009


He's the only one I'd gone into starstruck mode meeting, and his wife was really sweet to me. My heart goes out to her.

.
posted by carsonb at 7:39 AM on June 4, 2009


How awful.

.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:39 AM on June 4, 2009


Take the

.

from my hand, grasshopper.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009 [26 favorites]


I second that Holy Shit and raise you a Damn.
posted by bwg at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009


I got him to sign The Kill Bill Diary a couple years ago and I have to say there is not a hint of depression or even melancholy in the book. Massive ego maybe, but this is just shocking.
posted by mattbucher at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009


I always envied him for having been Barbara Hershey's paramour during her flower-child period.

This is shocking and depressing.

.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009


"Expect the Unexpected."

In one episode of Kung Fu, two young monks, one who eventually grew up to be played by Carradine, were attacked on the road. When they reported this to the head of their order, he asked them what lessons they took from the experience.

The other guy said, "never trust anyone." The kid who grew up to be Carradine's character said, "Expect the Unexpected." The other kid got sent on his way, the Carradine character got to stay in the monestary (or whatever it was).

This has stayed with me, all these years, and been in my catch-phrase rotation, for good or ill, ever since.
posted by Danf at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


:(
posted by autodidact at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2009


this is sad

.
posted by hexxed at 7:48 AM on June 4, 2009


Shih Kien and David Carradine both dead. What a strange coincidence.
posted by doctorschlock at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by jammy at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by ratita at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2009


This is tragic news.

.
posted by gushn at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2009


Peter Gibbons: I wanna take you out to dinner, and then I wanna go back to my apartment and watch 'Kung Fu'. Do you ever watch 'Kung Fu'?
Joanna: I love 'Kung Fu'.
Peter Gibbons: Channel 39.
Joanna: Totally.
Peter Gibbons: You should come over and watch 'Kung Fu' tonight.
Joanna: Ok.

.
posted by ejazen at 7:52 AM on June 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


This source still says he "was found by a hotel maid sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and genitals." And now that line is being repeated in many forums (at least, forums are the majority of Google results when searching for these details).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:54 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by effwerd at 7:56 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by disclaimer at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by Capt Jingo at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2009


Well, if we're going with what it says on teh InterWebs, Wikipedia currently has:

Death
On June 4, 2009, Carradine was found dead in his room at the Park Nai Lert Hotel in Junfan Mulay, Bangkok, Thailand.[2][3] The initial police investigation indicated that Carradine had been killed by ninjas, as he was found by a hotel maid. Carradine was sitting in a wardrobe with a shuriken in his neck.[3][7]
posted by daveg at 7:58 AM on June 4, 2009 [41 favorites]


I am Caine and I will...
posted by Eideteker at 7:58 AM on June 4, 2009


daveg - that seems completely in character. I buy it.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:59 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm trying to come up with a good kill bill joke....

Bill killed

.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:03 AM on June 4, 2009


He is a man of peace in a violent land. He is Kwai Chang Caine, schooled in the spirit-mind-body ways of the Shaolin priesthood by the blind, avuncular Master Po and the stern yet loving master Kan. Caine speaks softly but hits hard. He lives humbly yet knows great contentment. He is the Old West's most unusual hero. But hero is not a word Caine would use. He would simply say, "I am a man."

Kung Fu

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:06 AM on June 4, 2009


> Wikipedia currently has...

It doesn't any more and the page is now locked. But here's how Carradine should have gone from the edit history.
posted by ardgedee at 8:06 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, why a rope around both the neck and genitals? Why not just the neck?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on June 4, 2009


wow. I only caught the tail end of a bit on CNN, and I thought, how sad, Kane is gone. Now, with all the rope, genitalia and whatever, I think two things:

1) Kane is not only gone, but sullied in some way

2) I hope to never become famous, because then the details of my death, if unseemly, will end up as the first result on google, rather than all of the good, or at least entertaining, things I'd ever done in my life.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:09 AM on June 4, 2009


...
posted by Artw at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2009


Shit, Caine. I meant Caine.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by brevator at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2009


His 'Bill' in "Kill Bill' was one of those brilliant, beautiful things that is something to aspire to.
R.I.P.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:13 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:15 AM on June 4, 2009


No, clearly that Wikipedia article was wrong. I don't believe any number of ninjas could have taken on David Carradine and won.

.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:16 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Auden at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2009


Sounds pretty Michael Hutchence-y to me.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


. :(
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2009


His 'Bill' in "Kill Bill' was one of those brilliant, beautiful things that is something to aspire to.

Even if he did subscribe to the inferior pre-crisis interpretation of Clark Kent/Superman rather than the dramatically superior post-crisis one.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


.
posted by lilkeith07 at 8:22 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by podwarrior at 8:23 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by rtha at 8:25 AM on June 4, 2009


The other guy said, "never trust anyone." The kid who grew up to be Carradine's character said, "Expect the Unexpected." The other kid got sent on his way, the Carradine character got to stay in the monestary (or whatever it was).

And the other monk grew up to be Fox Mulder.

Seriously, what a blow. My condolences to his friends and to the whole sprawling Carradine dynasty.

.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:26 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

He's a big part of the reason I love Kill Bill so much. I hate that he died, but I'm even more disturbed to think it was suicide. I like the ninja idea better.

Although those yellow book ads could get someone pretty damn depressed. :(
posted by threeturtles at 8:26 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by Iridic at 8:26 AM on June 4, 2009


I love David Carradine. I used to watch Kung Fu with my mother when we had nothing else to do on weeknights.

Sad day.
posted by King Bee at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:33 AM on June 4, 2009


Say hi to Bruce Lee for us.

.
posted by bwg at 8:34 AM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


North and South?

Anyway, cool guy.

.
posted by Dumsnill at 8:38 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by strangememes at 8:40 AM on June 4, 2009


That's my call too, FelliniBlank. Possibly a a misadventure.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by mosk at 8:44 AM on June 4, 2009


.

From The Praying Mantis Kills.
posted by philip-random at 8:45 AM on June 4, 2009



Foul play or auto-erotic asphyixation?
posted by alzi at 10:38 AM on June 4


If you asphyixiate your genitals, you're doing it wrong. If the rope around the genitals is true, I'm guessing naughty play that went awry, rather than foul play.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget, he also played Frankenstein, the hero of Death Race 2000.

.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


He should not have taken those five silent steps.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm primarily familiar with Carradine through Kill Bill, two of my favorite movies. I was generally aware of who he was before that, but haven't seen much of his work outside of Kill Bill. Now this thread is making me want to seek out and watch Kung Fu.

Of course, that will have to wait until after I've finished working my way through The Prisoner. You know, it would be nice if I could get into the habit of finding and watching these great older TV series without having to be prompted by the death of the principal actor.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:59 AM on June 4, 2009


Somebody give him Chev Chelios' heart quick!
posted by stinkycheese at 9:00 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I will watch all 3 KB volumes this weekend in quiet reflection.


.
posted by winks007 at 9:03 AM on June 4, 2009


Now this thread is making me want to seek out and watch Kung Fu.


Yes, but only the original TV series that ran 1972-75.
posted by philip-random at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2009


I'm sad to say that this was the last thing I saw him in.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:06 AM on June 4, 2009


So sad.
posted by heyho at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by OolooKitty at 9:09 AM on June 4, 2009


I will watch all 3 KB volumes this weekend in quiet reflection.

3?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2009


.

This news is hitting me harder than expected. Also I just pretend I didn't read about the details. When I saw this series back in the seventies it was taking my breath away. Tonight I'm gonna watch our favorite episodes with my kids.
posted by ouke at 9:13 AM on June 4, 2009


So, why a rope around both the neck and genitals? Why not just the neck?

Auto Erotic Asphyxiation , that's the deal with the genitals. It's meant to increase the orgasm. I think.

If that's true... then yeah, sounds like an accident.
RIP.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2009


Kung Fu was almost as good as Star Trek. Very, very cool show. RIP DC
posted by Flex1970 at 9:17 AM on June 4, 2009


Remember kids:

Always use a spotter!*

*The More You Know
posted by sourwookie at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2009


Sigh. I can't tell you how much I loved that show as a kid. I guess now he really can walk through walls.
posted by Toecutter at 9:21 AM on June 4, 2009


If the stories I've heard of his proclivities are even 50% correct, I'm pretty sure they left out a lot of very kinky details from the news articles. And I'm glad. I really wish I'd never heard the stories. A lot of times there are things I just don't really want to know about other people.

. <---Pebble. Try to snatch it. I dare you.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:26 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't jump to conclusions about the rope.

People jerk around an awful lot when they die by hanging. It's perfectly reasonable to imagine rope getting caught between your legs or wrapped around your pelvis.

Wait for the inquest - but also, it's sorta irrelevant to his life and work, isn't it? Kung Fu was an iconic program; it was paradoxically true to the idea of non-violence even though there were many fight scenes; hundreds of millions of people were affected by it and IMHO in a positive way. We should all be so lucky.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

The man is a legend.

Also, not to derail the thread, but is auto-erotic asphyxiation a lot more common than I've assumed it is?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2009


I usually shy away from the details when they read like the early reports of this story, but this time I find it somewhat comforting -- he probably wasn't depressed and at wit's end, taking himself out in an effort to end some secret suffering. I'd rather think he went out in an accident; wouldn't most?
posted by heyho at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


heyho: "he probably wasn't depressed and at wit's end"

FWIW...

David Carradine had wrestled with suicidal thoughts long before this morning's tragedy.

A Thai newspaper is now reporting the body was hanging for no less than 12 hours before it was discovered by the maid, adding there was no sign of struggle.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2009


Pastabagel:If the rope around the genitals is true, I'm guessing naughty play that went awry, rather than foul play

He got his kicks ABOVE the waistline, sunshine.
posted by dr_dank at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:43 AM on June 4, 2009


.

Rest in Peace David.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2009


aww no. What a sad way for him to die. That is a shock. Looking for answers to why an actor who was so successful for over 40 years and 100 movies, in the middle of a movie would do that. Maybe this is a possible clue? Though he enjoyed a seemingly charmed youth as son of veteran character actor John Carradine, he reveals that he tried to kill himself as early as the age of five. Things became much worse after his parents divorced, as he was farmed out to foster homes, boarding schools, and a reform school.

Perhaps he suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, which has repeated suicidal ideation as a trait?

The John Kerwin Show - David Carradine interview

The beginning of the Kung Fu show.

I loved the rice paper walk and the grasshopper scenes.

My condolences to his friends and family. May he rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 9:47 AM on June 4, 2009


I will think of him whenever I pick up anything hot.
posted by Artw at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2009


His favorite movie of mine is under appreciated, and I'm always surprised by the number of people who've never even heard of it: Circle of Iron.
posted by ewagoner at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait... *My* favorite movie of *his*.
posted by ewagoner at 9:55 AM on June 4, 2009


Kung Fu Reference.
If you ever gave a damn for Sonny Jim, I'm sure you must remember him.
posted by tizzie at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by MythMaker at 10:05 AM on June 4, 2009


Here's another lesser-known feature of his: Bound for Glory.

Rest in peace, sir.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:11 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by juv3nal at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2009


putting a little imagination to this, by tying a cord around your genitals, looping it around your neck and crawling into a wardrobe, it may be possible to suck your own dick.
posted by kitchenrat at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2009


Damn. This is sad.

.
posted by homunculus at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2009


Chokey jerkin' is a tricky business. Learn your relax-release setups, kids - don't let this happen to you!
posted by FatherDagon at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by zennoshinjou at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2009


putting a little imagination to this, by tying a cord around your genitals, looping it around your neck and crawling into a wardrobe, it may be possible to suck your own dick.

I can't wait for you to put a lot of imagination to this.
posted by mazola at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by lalochezia at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2009


I can only hope that when I leave this world it's not like some Tory MP or 80s pop star. And if it is that someone tidies up a bit before calling the press.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on June 4, 2009


"You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than auto-erotic asphyxiation."

.
posted by maxwelton at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2009


Please make jokey comments elsewhere.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:02 AM on June 4, 2009


Sad?

Don't kid yourself. Sad would be a heart attack. Murder is one thing, but if I could go out masturbating, in Bangkok, with a choke rope around my neck, at age 72, I'd call that a solid ending.
posted by hpliferaft at 11:05 AM on June 4, 2009 [15 favorites]


David Carradine. My childhood best friend who developed schizophrenia in adolescence fixed on him as the object of her adoration and tried desperately to stalk him, a task made difficult by the fact that he didn't live in Sudbury, MA and she never could make it very far away from home. I don't know whatever happened to her but now I know what happened to Caine.

.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2009


.




You will be missed.

To those that think this was suicide: the rope was around his genitals, too. This was fun that went wrong. Let that be a lesson to those that would try and do this type of thing.

When I was going up, the kid next door died this way. In this case, the official story the parents preferred was "suicide", but they confided in a few parents he was naked and it was a door handle that the other end of the rope was on. He was inches from the floor when he passed out and died. I knew the kid, and he didn't have the stones to really commit suicide this way.
posted by e40 at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2009


;
posted by Sphinx at 11:22 AM on June 4, 2009


What a sad and strange end.

Grasshoppa (Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu) and Colonel Steve Austin (The 6 Million dollar man), represented a sort of Yin and Yang of super-cool, super-powered role models I aspired to as a small boy. Teaching me when to be humble and kind, and when to use my bionic strength to kick ass.

This leaves me in the lurch, a bit, and I hope I have learned the lessons of Master Grasshoppa well enough to go on without him.

RIP Grasshoppa. May your spirit walk forevermore, with grace and ease, upon the rice paper of the next world.

.
posted by Skygazer at 11:32 AM on June 4, 2009


Here's another lesser-known feature of his: Bound for Glory.

Snort.
posted by pracowity at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2009


Like I was saying, it's not unheard of that he lived a pretty crazy life. Just last week for some inexplicable reason someone told me a story in passing about DC going missing on a movie set they were working and eventually being found naked, passed out and pierced in places I don't want to discuss. Different friend of mine once watched as wardrobe put a pair of sunglasses on DC's face for a scene to hide the fact that he was actually passed out. When you do that kinda stuff repeatedly in front of enough movie crews, word gets out and starts to become weirdly common knowledge. Sky is blue. Water is wet. David Carradine has a kinky side and there's a chance he may pass out on your movie set. Deal with it or hire someone else.

Anyhow, he definitely marched to his own drum and his work positively impacted a lot of people. Kung Fu was cool, and let's just say David Carradine put a lot of living into his 72 years. Being boring isn't exactly what Carradines (or Barrymores) have ever been historically known for.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:53 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


My husband texted me at work about this.

What a fine actor. What a tragedy for it to end like this, no matter which explanation one subscribes to.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2009


R.I.P. I cannot recommend enough his turn as Cole Younger in The Long Riders. He was menacing, wise, sardonic, and just so fucking cool.
posted by Ber at 12:22 PM on June 4, 2009


Damn.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:24 PM on June 4, 2009


Also questioning comment above: THREE volumes of KB? I want to see this 3rd volume - where can I obtain such?
posted by davidmsc at 12:25 PM on June 4, 2009


The one time I went to LA, I saw but one celebrity: David Carradine. At the time, he was driving a Ferrari, wearing a dress pants and a suit jacket, but no shirt. I got a pretty awesome picture, if a bit blurry, I think.

.
posted by inigo2 at 12:39 PM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by jquinby at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2009


Farangs expiring Thai hotel rooms isnt unusual, but normally it's a balcony leap or OD.

Murder was my automatic reaction to this news. Any word on valuables taken from the room? Forensic examination may tell us something, but I recall one story in Thai Rath where the victim was bound with his hands behind his back and a poly bag knotted over his head, yet the Boys in Brown concluded it was suicide. Granted, this was before Dr Porntip's lobbying.

Grim news, anyhow. Dying 'mid stroke' may be a happy death, but it's not a good way to be remembered..
posted by the cuban at 12:42 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Correction. My daughter pointed out to me that I'm wrong and there are only 2 volumes. Sry.
posted by winks007 at 12:52 PM on June 4, 2009


I'm with hpliferaft on this one.

Death through autoerotic misadventure is undignified, sure, but to some extent it's like a death from skydiving, or auto-racing, or shark-bothering. It's sad, of course, but here's a bit of zip to it, you know? Plain suicide, on the other hand, is blighted, dull, and miserable, no matter how you slice it.

I'd rather believe that Grasshopper died chasing physical exhaltation than that he lost the fight against some sucking inner hell.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm torn on this one. I don't want to be "that guy" who shits all over an obituary post on the blue but it's hard for me to forgive someone who made his career as a white man in yellow face, and not just in the 70s but throughout his long career. Don't get me wrong, I know he's just an actor and not the character he plays. I loved Deathrace 2000. But growing up as an Asian-American in the 70s, Carradine was a joke to us. He was a painful reminder that not all was fair.

With that said.

.
posted by cazoo at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


But growing up as an Asian-American in the 70s, Carradine was a joke to us. He was a painful reminder that not all was fair.

Reminds me of a talk with Wes Studi that I attended years ago. American Indians were usually played by Jewish or Italian actors. They called themselves Schmo-hawks and Ara-WOP-hos.

and .
posted by lysdexic at 1:20 PM on June 4, 2009


I agree, cazoo, and Bruce Lee should've been Caine. It was his idea, after all.
posted by the cuban at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2009


i don't really care about the particulars of his death; i'm stunned by the *fact* of his death. the david carradine that i 'knew' was a kind & gentle man and a true legend. that's the guy i 'knew,' and that's the one i choose to remember.

.
posted by msconduct at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2009


carelessness or suicidality, i'm saddened whenever I hear about this kind of death by misadventure. ('cuz if it's carelessness, there's probably a little dark stuff going on behind it.)

at least in terms of his public persona, carradine seemed like a guy who would have enjoyed (or at least not begrudged) people having a little fun with such ... er... unusual circumstances of demise. so maybe it's appropriate that people don't get all serious about it.

lupus yonderboy: fwiw, Peter Hoeg describes a method of suicide by hanging yourself from a doorknob that entails more or less no struggle. You just sort of ... run out of air. I don't have my copy of Borderliners handy, but that's where you'd find it.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2009


I agree with you as well, cazoo. However,

.
posted by spec80 at 1:53 PM on June 4, 2009


72. Really? He didn't look 72. Becuase he looked 65 since he was 40. That was a guy who had some strikes simultaneously for and against him. The squirrelly disposition and scarecrow genetics he inherited from his father John. Who also looked 60 when he was thirty.

I'm sad. I kinda both loved and hated the guy.

Kung-Fu was definitely one the reasons I began training in Martial Arts as a kid. And dispelling all the bullshit from shows like Kung-Fu ( and Kill Bill) has kind of kept me training for over 20 years.

One film that kind of redeemed him in my eyes was the odd enigmatic and somewhat silly 1978's Circle of Iron. Which was partially written by Bruce Lee and James Coburn. Coburn trained with Lee in Jun Fan/JKD back in the day.

The irony of Carradine staring in both Kung-Fu and Circle of Iron of course is that both were set to star Bruce Lee. In fact KF was Lee's brain child. But TV execs didn't think a Chinese guy could play a Chinese guy. So they gave it to the notorious party boy and the totally untrained Carradine because he had a famous name. Which I suppose may have been a good move over all since Lee died in 1973. But it still kind of pisses me off since Lee might still be alive he got that show and out of the clutches of the amphetamine freaks in Hong Kong. Maybe. Nobody is sure what really killed Lee. But taking a shit load of "Herbal Chinese Suppliments" and "vitamine injections"everyday to stay up 24/7 and work and train was probably not a great idea.

Carradine was an interesting guy. Interesting in that he didn't know shit about Martial Arts. He marketed Tai Chi tapes with out really knowing anything about Tai Chi. He even had a self defense tape out that is some of the best comedy I have ever seen. He managed to get an entire career of nearly 200 movies based on this over the top Martial Arts Master personae and he was largely a fake until much later in life when he actually trained. And then he kind a really sucked after faking it for so long.
posted by tkchrist at 1:56 PM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


On preview: Just read Cazoo. Guess I was THAT guy this time.
posted by tkchrist at 1:58 PM on June 4, 2009


Hung Fu
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 2:04 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


"You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than auto-erotic asphyxiation."

Hah! I see what you did there. (Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose).

Also, not to derail the thread, but is auto-erotic asphyxiation a lot more common than I've assumed it is?

I believe it is. The deaths mostly get reported as suicide. Similar to how some suicides are reported as an accident while cleaning a gun.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 PM on June 4, 2009


cazoo: But growing up as an Asian-American in the 70s, Carradine was a joke to us. He was a painful reminder that not all was fair.

An awful lot of Asian actors found solid and dignified acting jobs precisely because of "Kung Fu".

And the "they stole Bruce Lee's idea" meme is largely bunk according to virtually everyone except Linda Lee. Moreover, as a rabid fan of Bruce Lee, I really kinda doubt his vision woulda been remotely like what ended up on the small screen. And frankly, though he may have developed'em later, I don't think the guy in "Game of Death" had the chops to handle the acting; there was a lot of subtlety, restraint and subtext in Carradine's performance. Lee was invariably a surface actor. That and he was still struggling with English a bit.
posted by RavinDave at 2:08 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least he died in Bangkok. Seems appropriate really given his film personae. I mean, if he died in, say, Wichita or Des Moines that'd be just dumb. But Bangkok - ok, yeah.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:09 PM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:35 PM on June 4, 2009


*Idly sitting and hoping that plain ol' 'batin never loses its shine for me*
posted by Danf at 3:22 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I recommend Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1990). Besides featuring Bruce Campbell and the always appealing Deborah Foreman, it's a fun, cheesy romp through Westerns and, well, vampire cliches.

Carradine doesn't take himself seriously in the film, and it works quite well. Despite the fact that he has little screen time, and he's up against character actors like M. Emmet Walsh, he holds his own.

Pretty good in Dead & Breakfast, too.
posted by adipocere at 3:25 PM on June 4, 2009


David Carradine isn't really dead.
posted by juiceCake at 3:30 PM on June 4, 2009


according to virtually everyone except Linda Lee

Who told you that? James Coburn is quoted as saying it. And I heard straight out of Guro Dan Insanto's mouth myself.
posted by tkchrist at 3:31 PM on June 4, 2009


He marketed Tai Chi tapes with out really knowing anything about Tai Chi.

My girlfriend got me that tape as a joke. Better yet, the producers saw it necessary to edit in glowing blue energy balls between Carradine's hands in a number of scenes.
posted by lekvar at 3:34 PM on June 4, 2009


BILL

.
posted by mazola at 3:36 PM on June 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


An awful lot of Asian actors found solid and dignified acting jobs precisely because of "Kung Fu".

Those actors were relegated to playing background characters or stereotypes. Obviously not the lead. Sure, they got a paycheck, but the whitewashing of that role did not help in advancement of Asian actors. It's still happening today. Check out this past post about the Avatar: The Last Airbender movie.
posted by spec80 at 4:01 PM on June 4, 2009


@tkchrist

I have no doubt that Bruce Lee was shopping around an idea for a TV show centered on kung fu. And, given the times, I have no reason to doubt that he was given a cool reception. But similar ideas are not synonymous ideas. Most any idea you can pitch in Hollywood already has a full-blown treatment collecting dust in some file cabinet. Most accounts of Lee's idea are a bit spartan, but they seem to agree on a few fundamentals: it was to take place in China and it was to be called "The Warrior". The crux of the issue is whether or not this was the genesis of "Kung Fu". Both its setting and title (and his later work) suggest something which -- while it might have been great stuff -- took an entirely different direction than the show that came to television. And given Lee's volcanic energy and flawless rapidfire technique, I have a bit of trouble thinking he would have been content to play a sedate and reflective monk. And I'm guessing that the ol' West wouldn't have been his first choice either.

But these are personal gut instincts. More concrete: the original write, Ed Spielman, gives a completely plausible account of how the idea came about. The producers speak to the issue on the DVD series. Could they be lying? Sure. But it certainly sounds reasonable.

@spec80

According to James Hong, the show had pretty solid relations with the Asian community. And I'm not sure it's fair to characterize the Asian roles on the show as "background" and "stereotypical".
posted by RavinDave at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by dbiedny at 4:48 PM on June 4, 2009


Very tragic. I enjoyed the TV series Kung Fu as a child, and Carradine's performances in the Kill Bill movies.

For those interested in the subject of autoerotic asphyxia, here is an essay I wrote some years ago on the subject. Though somewhat dated, it's still a useful introduction for those unfamiliar with the subject.

I suspect that Carradine's death will be like that of Michael Hutchence; eternally controversial.
posted by Tube at 4:52 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was the man.

.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:23 PM on June 4, 2009


.

I own a VHS copy of David Carradine's Kung Fu Workout. Literally my fave kung fu workout tape.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:41 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by londontube at 5:57 PM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:10 PM on June 4, 2009


... and Bruce Lee should've been Caine. It was his idea, after all.

That was the unstated idea here.
posted by bwg at 6:17 PM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:44 PM on June 4, 2009


Then he tells the story of how Ashby, the director, hated the look of the film, too, and had frequently expressed the wish that he could fire Wexler. Gasps go up. Carradine then says he talked Ashby out of firing Wexler, "because if you fire somebody, they just go out in the parking lot and steal your hubcaps." I'm pretty sure that's a metaphor, but the audience doesn't know what to do with this image other than to nervously titter. There will be a lot more of that--oh, yes, there will.

Chris Willman, Bound for Hell, or Glory?
posted by oneirodynia at 7:55 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


.
posted by biscotti at 8:26 PM on June 4, 2009


the whitewashing of that role did not help in advancement of Asian actors

Hollywood racism has a lot to answer for. I finally got around to seeing the 1924 Thief of Bagdad with Douglas Fairbanks, and more to the point, Anna May Wong. Good lord, but she should have been one of the major American cinema stars of the 20th century, rather than being relegated mostly to stereotypical supporting roles. (A Google image search on her returns a plethora of beautiful and SFW pix.)
posted by Creosote at 8:30 PM on June 4, 2009


... rather than being relegated mostly to stereotypical supporting roles.

Amen. At the risk of self-links, I've touched on this topic a number of times.
posted by bwg at 8:49 PM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by threetoed at 9:15 PM on June 4, 2009


.
posted by mike3k at 11:43 PM on June 4, 2009


I suspect that Carradine's death will be like that of Michael Hutchence; eternally controversial.

I think it's pretty dang clear what happened. He was in Bangkok. He had a rope tied around his neck connected to another rope tied around his weiner. And, finally, his last ex-wife alleged in the divorce filing that he engaged in deviant sexual behavior with potentially "deadly consequences".

Pretty clear cut, really. Definitely embarrassing but better than if he was depressed to the point of suicide.
posted by Justinian at 4:20 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


His manager's now going to the media and saying that he was told that it was foul play. Like Justinian and several others, I think it's pretty clear what happened, but I can see where those closest to him might not want to have that be the official cause of death.

.
posted by elfgirl at 4:37 AM on June 5, 2009


Wouldnt be so hasty in calling it pretty dang clear. Wait and see what Dr Porntip finds...

Thailand isnt really the Land of Smiles, you know.
posted by the cuban at 6:50 AM on June 5, 2009


His manager's now going to the media and saying that he was told that it was foul play. Like Justinian and several others, I think it's pretty clear what happened, but I can see where those closest to him might not want to have that be the official cause of death.

Well, yes and no. If someone else turns out to have been in the room and complicit in whatever activities were going on there, I would not be at all surprised.
posted by anastasiav at 6:55 AM on June 5, 2009


The New York Post cover, keeping it classy.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:02 AM on June 5, 2009


The New York Post cover, keeping it classy.

"Bam"? Really?

posted by inigo2 at 7:18 AM on June 5, 2009


I'm always surprised by the number of people who've never even heard of it: Circle of Iron

a.k.a. The Silent Flute. He played with Cord in that too.
posted by raygirvan at 7:22 AM on June 5, 2009


"Bam"? Really?

It used to be "B-Rock 'The Islamic Shock' Hussein SuperAllah Obama" but it was a bit wordy for the Post's cover.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:03 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just came here to repeat the funniest Twitter ever from Mike Monteiro.

Turns out David Carradine's death was originally written for Bruce Lee but American audiences weren't ready for a hung Asian.
posted by Nelson at 9:53 AM on June 5, 2009


Nelson: "the funniest Twitter ever"

NSFW tiled background image.
posted by Plutor at 10:15 AM on June 5, 2009


In a bizarre twist, Carradine's death may have been neither suicide or murder but accidental.
posted by scalefree at 10:44 AM on June 5, 2009


In a bizarre twist, Carradine's death may have been neither suicide or murder but accidental.
posted by scalefree at 10:44 AM on June 5


We've kind of been discussing that.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:47 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


If by "In a bizarre twist" you really mean "I ran in here without reading anything anyone said, and now I'm just blathering like five year-old in my excitement to be the FRIST HERE! I've just now read the news a day later, and seen this:" then... sure. Hi there, freak.
posted by heyho at 11:07 AM on June 5, 2009


Was he really in Bangkok filming a movie called "Stretch"? That boggles a bit, no?
posted by jquinby at 11:47 AM on June 5, 2009


Are we sure it wasn't an accident?
posted by agropyron at 1:03 PM on June 5, 2009


WOW! Guys I just heard this might not have been suicide!!!
posted by Justinian at 2:13 PM on June 5, 2009


You can all bite me.
posted by scalefree at 2:24 PM on June 5, 2009


Aaaaand now there's this.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:20 PM on June 5, 2009


Oh, and we *would* bite you but we're not kinky like that. Sorry.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:22 PM on June 5, 2009


Oh, and now there's these guys going on Larry King too.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:42 PM on June 5, 2009


You can all bite me.

I think you want this thread
posted by lysdexic at 6:04 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assuming Carradine died of autoerotic asphyxia, he would not be the first actor to do so.
posted by Tube at 7:32 PM on June 5, 2009


A little late to the game here, but you should check out Natural Selection/The Monster Hunter, a film of his I really enjoyed. I rented it years ago only because he was on the cover but it's a pretty good movie, I think.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:46 PM on June 5, 2009


When my mom asked for a Tai Chi video for Christmas I was ecstatic to find his. Quality instructions or no I will not regret that purchase.
posted by Lokisbane at 12:31 AM on June 6, 2009


I think it's pretty dang clear what happened.

Really? I don't think it's so clear as it might first seem.

He was in Bangkok.

Let's dwell on this for a second. He was in Bangkok. David. Carradine. And he had to masturbate? No. No, I really, honestly don't think so. I honestly don't think that a famous American movie star like David Carradine would have had any problem finding a girl or two or ten to take care of him. I was reading recently an article talking about how the down-turn in the economy has been adversely affecting the livelihoods of prostitutes in Thailand and BKK in particular. You have to try and understand if haven't ever been there: if you're a white male walking down the street you will be facing offers all day. If David was into the kinky stuff, you don't think he could have afforded—and had the means to—hire a girl for the night? Come on.

He had a rope tied around his neck connected to another rope tied around his weiner. And, finally, his last ex-wife alleged in the divorce filing that he engaged in deviant sexual behavior with potentially "deadly consequences".

Maybe he found someone to act out those deviant fantasies with? Maybe that person knocked him out with GHB or Rohypnol, robbed him, mixed up the dose and killed him by accident. Then to cover their trails, they staged an extremely embarrassing scene hoping the family would be too ashamed to order an investigation, and everyone would just chalk it up to those crazy big-time actors and their crazy ways. Just as an example.

There are at least a few obvious possible scenarios and not all of them end in suicide. Until the police have finished their investigation, I think the physical circumstances of his death should not yet be correlated to a cause.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:21 AM on June 6, 2009


There are at least a few obvious possible scenarios and not all of them end in suicide.

I don't think any of the obvious scenarios end in suicide. An accident which occurs during sex play (whether alone or with another person) isn't suicide, it's an accident. Occam's razor suggests that your scenario with GHB or rohypnol is much less likely than a scenario where a simple accident occurs.
posted by Justinian at 1:37 PM on June 6, 2009


Thai tab prints photo of death scene. (partly censored, but still NSFW or delicate sensibilities.) Family is pissed.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:56 PM on June 7, 2009


Yeah, I don't think I'm going to click on that. The guy deserves at least some privacy. Idle speculation is one thing, gawking at his death scene is another.
posted by Justinian at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2009


Assuming Carradine died of autoerotic asphyxia, he would not be the first actor to do so.

I used to live a block from that murder scene so I'm pretty familiar with Albert Dekker's death and he most probably did not die of self-inflicted autoerotic asphyxiation, especially since he was totally handcuffed, bound and gagged. It's always been considered he was most likely murdered for the money he used to keep on his person ($70,000 in cash was missing from his apartment when he died -- which would now be more like $200,000 in cash). When a rumor went around that Dekker was gay and into kinky sex with male prostitutes, the police made inquiries, but found Dekker had no reputation among male hustlers. Nor did any of his friends or girlfriends consider him the least bit "kinky." As for the coroner, Thomas Noguchi, he was known as the "Coroner to the Stars" for a reason. He worked closely with the movie studios.

First off, the death scene is a prime example of overkill:
"The 6 feet 3 inch, 240-pound Dekker was kneeling nude in the bathtub, a dirty hypodermic needle sticking out of each arm. A hangman's noose was around his neck but not tight enough to have strangled him. A scarf was tied over his eyes and something like a horse's bit was in his mouth. Fashioned from a rubber ball and metal wire, the bit had chain "reins" that were tightly tied behind his head. Two leather thongs were stretched between the leather belts that girded his neck and chest. A third belt, around his waist, was tied with a rope that stretched to his ankles, where it had been tied in some kind of lumber hitch. The end of the rope, which continued up his side, wrapped around his wrist several times and was held in Dekker's hand. Both wrists were clasped by a set of handcuffs. Written in lipstick, above two hypodermic punctures on his right buttock, was the word "whip" and drawings of the sun. Sun rays had also been drawn around his nipples. "Make me suck" was written on his thorax and "slave" and "cocksucker" on his chest. On his lower abdomen was drawn a vagina. He had apparently been dead since Friday and his awkward position had colored his lower body a deep blood purple. "This one has everything but a vampire bite," remarked a deputy coroner..."

"The puzzle had one more potentially significant clue. "Al was very trusting. He flew home from Mexico with his pay, thirty thousand dollars," Geraldine revealed. "We were about to close a deal on a house in the Encino Hills. Al was staying alone at the Normandie Street apartment until our house went through escrow. He'd only lived there a week." Also in the apartment was $40,000 from two television roles. Dekker was using straight cash as a bargaining leverage for the house. "When he died," his fiancée continued, "the whole seventy thousand dollars was missing. I think it was someone he knew and let into the apartment." Dekker chose the Normandie Street building because a friend managed it. That "friend" disappeared after Dekker's death and Saunders has always believed he had something to do with it."
posted by miss lynnster at 2:05 PM on June 7, 2009


Update on the speculating.
posted by nickyskye at 5:56 AM on June 10, 2009


Wow. Fishnets and wigs too? Go Keith!

This reminded me of this classic expose of human weirdness (the autopsy of the minister found dead wearing two wetsuits, five ties and a dildo after his wife went out of town) and I'll repeat what I said in the meta thread complaining of unseemly gawking: when you stage a dramatic autoerotic scene, you must do it knowing full well there is a chance something will go wrong and that people will gasp and snicker at the details of your death.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:47 AM on June 10, 2009


something will go wrong and that people will gasp and snicker at the details of your death.

Stephen Milligan MP
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2009


« Older We previously lamented the lack of a real writer i...  |  The portable urinating device ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments