David Carradine, pictured in LA last month, was found dead in a hotel room
Daily Mail | Jun 5, 2009
By David Gardner, Andrew Drummond, Debra Killalea and Mail Foreign Service
David Carradine’s death could have been caused by accidental suffocation, police said today.
The 72-year- old Kung Fu actor was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok on Thursday.
Suicide was initially suspected, but Carradine’s friends have questioned this theory, pointing out that no note was found.
Thai police chief Worapong Chewprecha said that Carradine was found with a rope tied around his genitals and another rope around his neck.
‘The two ropes were tied together,’ he said. ‘It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not, or if he died of suffocation or heart failure.’
The news has led to speculation that Carradine may have died from auto-erotic asphyxiation.
An autopsy was completed yesterday, but the results will not be ready for at least three weeks because the cause of death is unclear.
‘All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide,’ said Tiffany Smith of Binder & Associates, Carradine’s management company.
‘He really appreciated everything life has to give … and that’s not something David would ever do to himself. We’re just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened.’
Carradine, a martial arts practitioner himself, was best known for the TV series Kung Fu, which aired between 1972 and 1975.
He played Kwai Chang Caine, an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks.More recently, he had a starring role in Quentin Tarantino’s two-part saga Kill Bill.
His death sparked a raft of tributes across Hollywood as stars and friends insisted the actor was full of life and didn’t appear suicidal.
Quentin Tarantino, Michael Madsen and Rob Schneider all told U.S. talk show host Larry King there was no way the actor would have killed himself.
‘I am still in a state shock. He was a dream to direct he was a fantastic actor, a great character actor and really one of Hollywood’s great mad geniuses,’ said Tarantino, who directed Carradine in Kill Bill.
‘The thing I cannot get my head around is that there could have been a period of David’s long life when he might have been suicidal, but this was not the time.’
Schneider said the star had everything going for him and was really on an ‘upswing’.
‘This was a guy that was alive. He was a living legend and really people were coming around and appreciating him.
‘He could not do all the work that was being offered to him. I am convinced, there was no way that he would have killed himself.’
Madsen hosted Carradine’s wedding in 2004 and said that his widow was ‘very confused’ by her late husband’s death.
‘I talked to Annie about that and she said the most important thing she wanted people to know was that David was not suicidal and he was not depressed.
‘He was not about to do something like that, he had a job and he was working.’
Director Martin Scorcese also paid tribute to the actor and said he was deeply saddened by the tragic news.
‘We met when we made “Boxcar Bertha” together, almost 40 years ago,’ he said.
‘I have very fond memories of our time together on that picture and on Mean Streets, where he agreed to do a brief cameo.’
Others agreed the star seemed happy.
‘I can tell you 100 per cent that he would have never committed suicide,’ Tiffany Smith, who along with Chuck Binder managed the Kill Bill star. ‘He was too full of life.’
‘We’re just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened.
‘He really appreciated everything life has to give … and that’s not something David would ever do to himself.’
Binder, said: ‘He was full of life, always wanting to work – a great person.’
Michael Madsen, who played an assassin in Kill Bill said: ‘It is shocking to me that he is no longer with us.’
‘I had been thinking about calling him for the last several days … I have so many great memories of David that I wouldn’t even know where to begin . He has a very special place in my heart.’
Carradine, whose career had recently undergone a renaissance after he appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s bloody two-part martial arts film saga Kill Bill, was in Thailand shooting his latest film, Stretch.
He had been staying at the luxury Swissitel Nai Lert Park since Tuesday.
The crew could not find him after he failed to turn up for a meal on Wednesday night and his body was discovered at 10am yesterday.
Aurelio Giraudo, the hotel’s general manager, said Carradine checked into the hotel May 31 and he last saw him June 3.
He said Carradine chatted with staff and even played piano a few nights in the lobby as well as flute which the ‘guests really enjoyed’.
The hotel, next to the British Embassy in Bangkok is famous for its shrine to fertility.
Visitors make offerings, in the form of phalluses, to the female Spirit of Tubtim who is believed to hover around a nearby canal.
Carradine’s death echoes that of former INXS star Michael Hutchence who was found dead in a Sydney hotel in 1997.
The coroner returned a verdict of suicide but because of the lack of suicide note or history of depression he was believed to have died attempting an act of autoerotic asphyxiation.
Although Carradine was said to he happy at the time of his death, he had spoken of suicide in the past.
He also admitted he had considered shooting himself and did not fear death.
He wrote in his 1995 autobiography Endless Highway that he had tried to kill himself when he was five years old.
The book also documented his alcoholism and extensive use of drugs, from LSD to cocaine.
In a 2004 interview he said: ‘I remember one time sitting in the window of the third or fourth floor floor of the Plaza Hotel for about half an hour, thinking about tipping off.
‘I thought “who cares man? Why not just split”‘.
He also said: ‘There was a period in my life when I had a single action colt.45 loaded, in my desk drawer.
‘And every night I’d take it out and think about blowing my head off – and the decide not to and go on with my life.’
Carradine got his big break in Kung Fu as Kwai Chang Caine, nicknamed Grasshopper, the soft-spoken monk and martial arts expert who travelled through America’s Old West spreading wisdom and battling bad guys.
The show captured the imagination of millions of youngsters. Phrases from Kung Fu such as ‘Snatch the pebble from my hand’ were endlessly repeated in the playground.
Children put ping-pong balls, which had been cut in half, in their eyes in imitation of the show’s blind character, Master Po.
Kung Fu was first screened in 1972 and spawned a film and numerous other offshoots.
Carradine’s portrayal of Caine earned him a nomination for an Emmy, U.S. TV’s highest honour. He left after three seasons.
He was married five times and had two daughters from previous marriages. His fifth wife was Annie Bierman, whom he married in 2004.
His brothers include the actor Keith Carradine.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said Thai officials had confirmed that Carradine died either late on Wednesday or early yesterday morning.