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'Kill Bill' star David Carradine found dead in Bangkok

David Carradine, best known as the wandering Shaolin monk in the 1970s television series "Kung Fu" and the mysterious assassin in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" movies, was found dead in a Bangkok, Thailand, hotel room Thursday. The cause appeared to be suicide.

"I can confirm that we found his body, naked, hanging in the closet," a Thai police officer investigating the death told The Associated Press.

Carradine, 72, was staying in Room 352 of the Park Nai Lert Hotel in the Thai capital while shooting a movie titled "Stretch," according to The Nation, a Thai newspaper. Carradine failed to appear with the rest of the crew for a meal Wednesday and could not be contacted. A maid said she discovered his body around 10 a.m.

Carradine had a curtain rope around his neck, The Nation reported, adding that police found no evidence he had been assaulted. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

See photos of David Carradine through the years.

See photos of celebrity deaths that shocked us.

Chuck Binder, the actor's manager, expressed shock and told the BBC that Carradine was "full of life, always wanting to work."

Carradine had indeed maintained a long and busy career. Born John Arthur Carradine (after his actor father, John Carradine), he pursued theater after college and once played Laertes to his father's Hamlet at Bellport's Gateway Playhouse. In 1966 he found wider exposure playing the lead role in the television series "Shane."

But it was ABC's 1972-75 "Kung Fu" series that made Carradine a star and forever linked him to the role of Kwai Chang Caine, a pacifist monk who usually ended each episode beating various villains to a pulp. (In flashbacks he was played by Carradine's brother Keith.)

Though David Carradine was Caucasian, his character was half-Chinese - one of television's rare lead Asian roles at the time. His fluid, graceful moves helped popularize martial arts in this country in tandem with Bruce Lee's rising fame. And the spiritual nickname "Grasshopper" - given to Caine by his blind teacher, Master Po - entered the lexicon.

Carradine also pursued the silver screen, appearing in several B-movie films. Those irreverent and somewhat countercultural films, along with Carradine's own interest in Eastern philosophy, helped establish the actor as a Hollywood outsider. He lived for several years with actress Barbara Hershey, with whom he had a son named Free.

In 1976 he starred as the activist folk singer Woody Guthrie in "Bound for Glory." The film was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture.

In the 1990s he reprised his role in the short-lived, syndicated television series "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues."

Carradine thanked Quentin Tarantino for casting him as the master assassin Bill in the "Kill Bill" movies (2003 and 2004). The role cleverly traded on Carradine's on-screen persona, a combination of inner peace and dormant violence. His face, weathered by age and perhaps by the drinking and drugging he had put behind him, added to his mystique.

"All that was ever required was somebody with Quentin's courage to take and put me in the spotlight," Carradine told The Associated Press in 2004. "It is the start of a new career for me. It's time to do nothing but look forward."

- With AP

See photos of David Carradine through the years.

See photos of celebrity deaths that shocked us.

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