David's Acting Bio
In a professional career spanning 45 years, Carradine has appeared in 118 films, 32 plays, 27 television movies of the week, miniseries and dramatic specials, 35+ guest appearances on various series and the star in 3 series. His second starring role, as Caine in Kung Fu, evolved into becoming one of the most iconic roles in the history of television. In addition to the smash hit series that garnered Carradine both Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominations, it also introduced many viewers to Asian martial arts and Chinese philosophy. There were also two television movies, Kung Fu, The Way of the Dragon and Kung Fu The Movie. Carradine resurrected his Caine character with a second series, Kung Fu, The Legend Continues, which he also co-produced. He also authored Spirit of Shaolin, A Handbook of Kung Fu Philosophy and voiced Caine, The Kung Fu Adventure Online.
A member of one of Hollywood’s acting dynasties, Carradine followed his father, John, a star of screen and stage dating back to the golden era of the Hollywood into the family business. Carradine and his well-known brothers represent the second generation and many of their children make up a third generation of established actors.
In feature films, Carradine began working more than four decades ago appearing in such films as Taggart, starring Dan Duryea and Bus Riley’s Back In Town, starring Ann-Margret. Highlights from his 118 films include:
- Martin Scorsese’s first Hollywood feature Box Car Bertha, opposite Barbara Hershey;
- co-starring with Liv Ulmann in Ingmar Bergman’s only English language feature and the only one shot outside Sweden, The Serpent’s Egg;
- The Roger Corman cult classic, Deathrace 2000;
- Starring as folk music legend Woody Guthrie in Bound For Glory for director Hal Ashby, a performance for which he was named Best Actor by the National Board of Review® and nominated for a Golden Globe®;
- Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye;
- Scorsese’s classic, Mean Streets;
- Co-starring with his brothers Keith and Robert, as well as other actors/brothers with the surnames of Quaid, Keach and Guest in Walter Hill’s Western, The Long Riders;
- Starring, directing, producing, editing and composing the main theme for Americana, a film which was awarded the People’s Prize at the Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival;
- The notorious title character in Quentin Tarantino’s smash hit, Kill Bill Vol I., another role which garnered him a Golden Globe® nomination;
- The second part of Tarantino’s saga, Kill Bill Vol. II;
- And his most bizarre performance to date in another cult classic, Sonny Boy, portraying an ex-con living out his life cross-dressing as a mid-Western housewife, while running a gang of thieves.
David recently completed roles in the independent feature, Homo Erectus, The Caveman Comedy, starring, written and directed by Adam Rifkin, as well as the Rob Schneider comedy, Big Stan, and a romantic comedy, Camille, where he co-starred with James Franco and Sienna Miller. He will appear in the action film Blizhiny Boy: The Ultimate Fighter.
Carradine’s television work also covers more than four decades, dating back to appearances on such series as
- East Side, West Side, starring George C. Scott,
- Wagon Train,
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents,
- Ironside and
- Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.
- His first starring role in a series was as the title character in the series Shane, based on the classic film.
He continued making guest appearances on such series as
- The Young Riders,
- Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman,
- Just Shoot Me and
He had recurring roles on the series
- Largo Winch,
- Family Law, T
- The Queen of Swords and
In the miniseries genre,
- He starred in Mr. Horn,
- Was impressionist artist Paul Gaugin in Gaugin, The Savage,
- And portrayed one of his most menacing characters ever in the Civil War era epic hit miniseries, North and South and it’s sequel, Love and War: North and South II.
His television movies and dramatic specials include productions of
- The Bad Seed, appearing opposite Mia Farrow in a David Susskind produced adaptation of Johnny Belinda,
- Gambler IV – The Luck of the Draw,
- By Dawn’s Early Light
- And The Outsider, among many others.
In a theatre career that began while he studied drama at San Francisco State College, Carradine was soon appearing in some of the Bard’s classic works at both the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and the Ohio’s Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival. Even during his stint in the Army he continued to act, producing, directing and performing in musicals and dramas for the U.S. Army Entertainment Unit. Upon his honorable discharge from the military, Carradine found himself in New York and began working his way upward in the theatre world at the same time he was beginning to pursue his film and television career.
He landed a leading role on Broadway in The Deputy. For another play on Broadway, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, starring opposite Christopher Plummer, Carradine was named Most Promising New Personality by Theatre World. He continued to do classical and contemporary theatre work in New York and at major regional stages around the country.
As a published author, David has also written his autobiography, Endless Highway, as well as The Kill Bill Diary, a day-to-day journal of his experience on the film set and beyond, and two martial arts related instructional books, David Carradine’s Tai Chi Workout and The Healing Art of Chi Gung. He has produced and starred in a series of martial arts workout videos, beginning with David Carradine’s Kung Fu Workout, and a number of others on Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Cheng Tai Chi Meditation and Kung Fu Kick Boxing.
In addition to his ongoing pursuits as an actor, producer, director and writer, Carradine also is a composer, musician and singer. He has released the albums Grasshopper and As Is, as well as singles, including You and Me, Troublemaker and Walk The Floor. Affirming his status as an acting legend, Carradine has his own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.