June 4th, 2009
01:21 PM ET

Carradine's Impact

More than anybody (with the exception of Bruce Lee) David Carradine was responsible for introducing Americans to martial arts with the show "Kung Fu".  Even more importantly, he gave a lot of people their first introduction to eastern philosophy through the series.  Not bad considering it was a pretty cheesy show.

"Kung Fu" hit the air in 1972, a time when a TV program could make a huge cultural impact because there were so few viewing options (only three networks, no cable, satellite, internet, etc.).  The show's whiff of the "ancient wisdom of the east" hit at the perfect time, as young Americans were re-evaluating the values they had inherited from their parents.

Unfortunately for Carradine, he became so identified with his role as a Shoalin Monk that he didn't have much of a career afterwards.  It was left to Quentin Tarantino to remind everyone that Carradine was an actor of depth, by casting him in "Kill Bill".  The mixture of Old West and Far East in that film was a sly nod to Carradine's earlier work in "Kung Fu".

His body was found in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel room.  Oddly fitting.  In the end he couldn't escape the mysterious east.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Tonight on Larry King Live, an exclusive with Quentin Tarantino, Rob Schneider, Vivaca Fox and close friends on David Carradine's death. CNN, 9 p.m. ET.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. grasshopper

    tragic loss; Carradine's show was a standard for Kung Fu cinema

    June 9, 2009 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. torontogirl

    David Carradine dead - NOOOOOOOOO. what a shame I remember him as a kid in Kung-Fu I watched the show every week. Seemed like such a quiet harmless actor. Just a rotten shame he is gone. Cheryl from Toronto Canada

    June 5, 2009 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Franky

    Good lord, I was not expecting this...but then again when I don't feel right about certain things, my friends listen to me...yeah, they think I'm special, LOL!! But to be serious here, good lord...

    This is so sad, just so sad. Who knew what was going on his mind, let alone how he was feeling.

    You know and if you follow my comments, I've actually made predictions like this when I don't feel right about something...and psychics are still being used in investigations, where's my contract? LOL!!

    No but for real, we don't approve this type of behavior but then again, we don't approve harm towards one another or let alone, each other.

    Pray for his family guys, pray he didn't leave nobody important behind, don't matter if you like em or not...

    June 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carlos

    David Carradine played good vilianous roles as well like in Lone Wolf McQuaid, and other movies, still utilitizing his martial arts talents on screen as well as famous people like his role as the senior of the Younger Brothers from the James/Younger Gang in the Long Riders in the early eighties which he has a memorial character. I would not say that his career was limited because he would not have been involved such quality of productions whether big or small. He was an influential actor who left his imprint in the arts, cinema or otherwise. He will be deeply missed. RIP.

    June 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    Time for you to go, Grasshopper.....

    June 4, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Annie

    I am so devasted and sadden to hear of his death. He was a good actor, I always wtached Kung Fu series and ay movie I saw him in, I enjoyed. I DO NOT belive he killed himself. In those countries, anything goes and if they do find out someone killed him, I hope they will be brought to justice. My heart goes out to his family and May God's peace be with them. Rest In Peace.

    June 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve Oehmen

    I am very sorry to hear of Mr. Carradine's passing – especially, apparently – at his own hand.

    I was teaching severely emotionally disturbed children during the time that "Kung Fu" was popular on TV, and of course, the kids ate it up. But what I have been forever grateful for is the way those kids internalized David's "Grasshopper" mantra of "bend – don't break". It was immeasurably helpful to them, and probably still is.

    Peace to you!

    June 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LBW

    RIP David Carradine.

    June 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |

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