David Carradine Dead

David Carradine

David Carradine

This is shocking.  Wow.  Out of nowhere. 

David Carradine was the actor assigned to the leading character in the TV show Kung Fu, a role that Bruce Lee invented but was denied since he, ironically, wasn’t White.  Since those days, David Carradine, with his slow moving Tai Chi, created a faux-Asian image that Americans bought like crazy.  Being White helped launch and solidify his career as a leading role and figure in Orientalist Asian American culture, most recently in Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.

I can’t say anything good about his films.  I’ve made fun of this guy more times than I can count.  But it’s sad and unexpected that it ended this way.  My sympathies go to his family.

15 thoughts on “David Carradine Dead

  1. I was a big fan of the show when it first came on. Looking back, it sucked that Carradine was doing yellowface, but at the time, the show really was something different. There were Asian people on this show. That was big, considering the only other Asian people on TV at the time were the Asian brother and sister in the Calgan commercials.

    Plus, there were episodes that addressed racism and compelling stories that discussed martial arts philosophy. I was quite fond of the show, even though Carradine was white. When it came down to it, the Asian American community at the time was so starved for Asian heroes, that even yellowface would do.

    Nowadays, yellowface doesn’t fly.

  2. The show was garbage when it originally aired, and is certainly not worthy of nostalgia now. The yellows who worked on it were sellouts and served to confirm whitey’s Asian fantasies.

    I am not crying for Carradine or the goddam horsie-stick he rode in on.

    For those who need to catch up on their yellowface, the Warner Oland and Sidney Toler “Charlie Chan” collections are at Costco. !!

  3. wow, alpha asian….how old ARE you?? i thought “kung fu” was on during the 1970s…..lol.

    Yep, i’m glad he’s dead. I just hope all the other dirty ass orientalist mofos die soon too. Muahhahahahahahaahah!

  4. I liked the show too growing up. I liked how it touched upon Asian philosophy and had great characters like Phillip Ahn and Keye Luke as Master Po. But yeah, as I got older and found out that Bruce Lee developed, created, the show for ABC and they fucked him by giving the lead role to Carradine, it really pissed me off.

    So Carradine spent an entire career milking the yellowface stuff and not once have I ever heard of him saying he was grateful to Bruce Lee for giving him stardom and a career.

  5. Anna,

    How dare you point out my age, you young whipper snapper! 😉

    Yes, I actually remember when the pilot episode aired on ABC. Yes it was the 1970’s: no cable, only 7 channels, no remote. Before anyone else makes a wisecrack: yes, we did have a color TV.


    That’s true: not once did Carradine acknowledge Bruce Lee or thank him for creating and developing the show. Stuff’s going around that Carradine didn’t commit suicide, but may have been murdered. Either way, I call it karma.

  6. you know, suicide is also a nice way of saying he died from auto-erotic asphyxiation. nobody really likes telling the family that their loved one died while self-asphyxiating during a monkey spank session, with a bunch of stroke mags splayed out all over the place.

    but if it was foul play, I would think it’s drug related.

  7. Yeah the thai police gave Carradine’s family and friends an ‘out’ by saying ‘accidental death’ and then ‘suicide.’ But when some of his celeb friends said, “Nah, Carradine wasn’t depressed,” then it’s like “OK you’re right, it’s not suicide but auto-erotic asphyxiation.”

    If it’s foul play, then that’s the most humiliating set-up you could inflict on someone.

  8. I’ll never understand what put Carradine into such an elite position in the martial arts world, why all the legit martial artists praised him, and how people could see any merit in the work he did. Even as a kid and not knowing jack about martial arts, I could tell he was a hack in the Kung Fu show. Like the article states, he was an actor and making a good living and there’s no fault in that, but it was all this extra stuff that flooded into every facet of the martial arts film world, about how he was amazing and talented and in the martial arts hall of fame… I never got it.

    Until I went to the Action on Film Festival in Long Beach.

    I got my comeuppins there, when they introduced awards to hack after hack after hack, honoring whoever will bring them the most press for the next festival. There’s nothing to being a martial arts film star. You don’t even need to be white. All you need is a lot of talk behind you.

  9. Alpha,

    I remember the pilot of Kung Fu…that is, Kung Fu: the Legend Continues. Hahaha. Seriously, you saw the Kung Fu pilot? That was 1972. How old were you then…3?


    Good point about Carradine not thanking Bruce Lee. I can understand him taking the stolen Kwai Chang Fuckhead role to further his own career, but to remain mum after achieving success? To refuse to acknowledge the guy who created the role that launched his career? That’s just low class.


    I remember Carradine being in Black Belt magazine, and yes, even the legit martial artists were kissing up to him. I guess money speaks louder than any real skill.

  10. You know what, B? You’re right, I would have been 2 when the pilot came out. I guess I’m remembering things out of sequence, and watched a rerun of the pilot. But I do remember watching the show during primetime hours on ABC.

    God, I feel old.

  11. Haha…I was going to say, I knew you were a little older than me, but to be conscious of what was on TV in 1972, you’d have to be MUCH older than me.

    Don’t feel old. If anything, you should feel good that you intersected Bruce Lee. He was two years gone by the time I came around.

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