David Carradine Biography

David Carradine photo

Born: December 08, 1936


Birth name: John Arthur Carradine

Date of Birth: December 8, 1936

The eldest son of legendary character actor John Carradine, David Carradine was born in Hollywood, California. His two brothers, Keith and Robert, and half-brother, Michael Bowen, are also successful actors.

David studied music theory and composition at San Francisco State College, where he wrote music for the Drama Department. Although he hadn't planned on following in his father's footsteps, the stage beckoned and he soon joined a Shakespearean company. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Carradine moved to NYC, where he appeared on Broadway. Returning to Hollywood in 1963, he began landing guest appearances on television series such as Wagon Train, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Ironside and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

He soon made his motion picture debut in the western Taggart (1964), then landed the title role in the short-lived TV drama Shane (1966). His career really picked up after co-starring opposite Barbara Hershey in Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood film, Boxcar Bertha (1972). The same year, Carradine landed the starring role in the television series, Kung Fu (1972 to 1975), and received an Emmy nomination as well as a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine, a soft-spoken Shaolin monk traveling on foot through the American west in the 1800s.

Leaving the show after three years to pursue a film career, Carradine received a second Golden Globe nomination as well as the Best Actor Award from the National Board of Film Review when he played folksinger Woody Guthrie in Bound for Glory (1976). However, although he worked constantly, it was mostly in low budget films that often never played in North America and he didn't retain the superstardom he'd attained from Kung Fu. Carradine returned to television playing a descendant of his original character (but bearing the same name) in the modern day television series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (1992 to 1997).

Carradine has also worked as a director, beginning with You and Me (1972), starring his brothers Robert and Keith (David also played a role). He directed several episodes of Kung Fu and starred in, directed, produced, edited, co-wrote the screenplay and composed music for Americana (1981), for which he received the People's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival's "Director's Fortnight." He didn't direct again for 20 years, returning in 2001 to helm several episodes of the Disney TV series Lizzie McGuire, which featured younger brother Robert as Lizzie's father.

David continues to work steadily as an actor and in 2003/2004 played in one of his biggest profile films to date - the title role in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Vol. 1 & 2. His list of film credits has continued to grow over the past several years and he continues to be sought after for films. He also appears (as himself) in the 2012 documentary Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, a look at the life and career of director/proudcer Roger Corman.

Married four times, Carradine has two daughters - Calista (b. 1962), from his first marriage, and Kansas (b. 1978), from his second marriage. He also has a son, Tom Carradine (b. 1972, named "Free" at birth), from his relationship with Barbara Hershey. David died on June 4, 2009 in Bangkok, while on location for a movie. He was survived by his fifth wife, Annie.


Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel(2012)
Mata Hari (2012)
Night of the Templar (2012)
Eldorado (2012)
True Legend(2010)
Money to Burn (2010)
Six Days in Paradise (2010)
The Rain (2009)
Last Hour (2008)
Hell Ride(2008)
Richard III (2008)
Chatham (2008)
Big Stan(2007)
The Trident (2007)
How to Rob a Bank (2007)
Treasure Raiders (2007)
Fall Down Dead(2007)
Epic Movie(2007)
Permanent Vacation(2007)
Homo Erectus (2007)
Blizhniy Boy: The Ultimate Fighter (2007)
Final Move (2006)
The Last Sect (2006)
Miracle at Sage Creek (2005)
Brothers in Arms (2005)
Last Goodbye (2004)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2(2004)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1(2003)
Wheatfield with Crows (2002)
G.O.D. (2001)
Natural Selection (2000)
The Effects of Magic (1998)
Pi li huo (1995)
Distant Justice (1992)
Roadside Prophets (1992)
Double Trouble(1992)
Think Big (1990)
Sonny Boy (1990)
Bird on a Wire (1990)
Tropical Snow (1989)
Try This One for Size (1989)
The Misfit Brigade (1987)
Armed Response (1986)
Behind Enemy Lines(1986)
The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)
Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
Trick or Treats (1982)
Q (1982)
Safari 3000 (1982)
Americana (1981)
Cloud Dancer (1980)
The Long Riders (1980)
Fast Charlie... the Moonbeam Rider (1979)
Je te tiens, tu me tiens par la barbichette (1979)
Circle of Iron(1978)
Gray Lady Down (1978)
The Serpent's Egg(1977)
Thunder and Lightning (1977)
Bound for Glory (1976)
Death Race 2000(1975)
Mean Streets(1973)
The Long Goodbye (1973) (uncredited)
You and Me (1972)
Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Macho Callahan (1970)
The McMasters (1970)
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
Young Billy Young (1969)
Heaven with a Gun (1969)
The Violent Ones (1967)
Too Many Thieves (1966)
Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965)
Taggart (1964)
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