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David Carradine Found Dead in Hotel Room

06/04/2009 at 10:05 AM EDT

David Carradine Found Dead in Hotel Room
David Carradine
Michael Schwartz/WireImage
Movie and TV actor David Carradine, best known for his leading role of Kwai Chang Caine on TV's Kung Fu in the 1970s, died Wednesday in Bangkok, where he was shooting a film, his manager confirmed Thursday. The star was 72.

According to manager Chuck Binder, the movie's producer found Carradine dead in his hotel room. Binder told Fox News the death is "shocking and sad. He was full of life, always wanting to work ... a great person." Citing Thai police sources, the BBC reports that a hotel maid discovered the American actor in a closet with a rope around his neck and body.

Married five times and divorced four – he is survived by his widow, Annie Bierman, whom he married in 2004 – Carradine starred as folk singer Woody Guthrie in the 1976 Best Picture Oscar nominee Bound for Glory. Among his later screen roles was in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, in which he played Bill.

Varied and Long Career

As profiled in PEOPLE in 1992, Carradine was born in Hollywood to the actor John Carradine and his first wife, Ardanelle, and was just 7 when his parents divorced.

Shuttled between the two, he grew up in boarding schools on both coasts. Although he was orphaned emotionally, he did become close to the seven stepbrothers and half brothers he would accumulate during Dad's four marriages: Ardanelle's older son, Bruce; Chris, Keith and Bobby (whose mother was actress Sonia Sorel); Mike Bowen (Sonia's son from an earlier marriage); and Mike and Dale Grimshaw (John's stepsons by third wife Doris Rich).

By 1970, Carradine says, "I had a house in the Hollywood Hills that virtually every brother has lived in. It was like this safe harbor. We all took care of each other."

David's acting breakthrough – as an Inca king on Broadway in 1965's The Royal Hunt of the Sun when he was 29 – came only after lean years of studying music and ballet at San Francisco State, a brief Army hitch and a life-support gig as a prune picker.


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