June 6, 2009 / 12:17 AM / 10 years ago

Mystery surrounds "Kung Fu" actor's death

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Mystery continued to shroud the death of actor David Carradine on Saturday, with rumor and speculation rife about how the star of 1970s-era U.S. television show “Kung Fu” met his demise.

Actor David Carradine at the 60th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in California, January 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

With coroners awaiting the result of toxicology tests, Thai media pointed to suicide or an accident during autoerotic asphyxiation as possible cause of death, two days after he was found naked, hanging dead in his plush Bangkok hotel suite.

Police remained tight-lipped about the progress of their probe on Saturday and the chief investigating officer said it could take several weeks for coroners to confirm exactly how the 72-year-old died.

“What we’re doing right now is interviewing more witnesses,” Police Colonel Somprasong Yentuam told Reuters.

“It should take roughly three weeks for the blood test result, then we can wrap this case up.”

Somprasong said he believed the likely cause of death was asphyxiation.

Thai television said Carradine’s body was flown back to Los Angeles early Saturday, although U.S. embassy officials could not confirm the reports.

A maid found Carradine hanging naked by a rope in the closet of his hotel suite at the Swissotel Nai Lert Park hotel on Thursday. He was staying at the hotel while shooting the movie “Stretch.”


Initial reports indicated a possible suicide, but family representatives in Los Angeles have repeatedly said Carradine was not suicidal.

Tiffany Smith of Carradine’s Los Angeles-based talent manager Binder & Assoc said: “It’s not where he is in his life right now, he was completely full of life, extremely happy to be going to Bangkok and doing this film.

An employee at the Nai Lert Park hotel told Reuters Carradine was “very happy” and “always smiling” the last time he was seen alive.

Representatives for Carradine declined to comment on media reports that the death was related to autoerotic asphyxiation, which involves intentionally cutting off oxygen supply for strong sexual arousal.

Long-time family friend and Carradine’s former lawyer Vicki Roberts, who represented the actor in a past divorce, said press reports of how he was found caused her to suspect foul play.

She said Carradine had no history of using autoerotic asphyxiation.

Thai investigators said there was no indication other people had been in the room where Carradine was staying.

Carradine comes from a family of performers, including actor Keith Carradine, whose father is the late character actor John Carradine.

He enjoyed a long career on Broadway, TV and in movies such as Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” and his role in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” earned him his fourth Golden Globe nomination.”

But he was most famous for his role in “Kung Fu,” playing a martial arts specialist known as Caine who wandered through the American Old West seeking wisdom and beating up bad guys.

Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Sugita Katyal

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