David Carradine, the always-working star of TV's Kung Fu and omnipotent title figure in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies, was found dead today in a Thailand hotel.
A report on Thailand's The Nation news site cited local police as saying the 72-year-old actor was "found hung in a closet" this morning by a hotel maid, and that suicide was suspected. Carradine's Hollywood management company, however, flaty disputed the suicide theory, and said Thai police were investigating.
Prolific to the end, Carradine left Los Angeles for Bangkok, the Thai capital, on May 29 to shoot a movie called Stretch, Tiffany Smith of Chuck Binder & Associates said. Carradine's first day of shooting was Monday.
"He was as happy as can be," Smith told E! News. "He was very eager, very excited to do this project."
According to The Nation, Carradine was an unexpected no-show at a dinner with the film crew on Wednesday night.
A message on Carradine's own website, dated May 2009, was as upbeat as could be. "Hope you're having a great Spring!," it said.
Carradine was to be seen next week in the new Fox series Mental. His guest-star appearance was teased during a promo that aired during last night's So You Think You Can Dance. The network tells E! News that producers are deciding if the episode will air as scheduled.
Carradine earned an Emmy nomination for Kung Fu, his iconic 1972-75 series that married the martial arts to the Old West, and brought a whole new view to what—or who—was a grasshopper. He rated one of four career Golden Globe nominations for Kill Bill, the Tarantino revenge saga that, according to Carradine, was partly written under his influence.
"I wrote this autobiography called Endless Highway, a few years back," Carradine told ARTISTdirect this year. "Quentin was reading it, while he was writing the part for me, so it's full of my own rhythms."
As on Kung Fu, the real-life Carradine was a longtime student of the martial arts. He wrote a book on kung-fu philosophy, and fronted a tai-chi workout industry.
The son of John Carradine, an incredibly prolific actor of the 1930s-1980s, the younger Carradine was, by comparison, merely very prolific. By his own count, he appeared in 118 films, although it's unknown if the 13—13!—2009 titles listed on his IMDb credits page were included.
Other notable films include the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory, which earned him Oscar buzz, if not a nomination, Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets, filmmaker Ingmar Bergman's lone English-language work, The Serpent's Egg, and the original 1970s cult favorite Death Race 2000.
Survivors include his half-brothers Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds) and Keith Carradine (Nashville), with whom he costarred, alongside the families Quaid (Randy and Dennis) and Keach (James and Stacy), in the 1980 Western The Long Riders.
(Originally published June 4, 2009, at 8:03 a.m. PT)