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Rumors and Conspiracy Theories Surround Carradine Death

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 8, 2009 at 5:59AM

Following reports Thursday that actor David Carradine had tragically committed suicide in his Bangkok hotel room, Thai police are now questioning their initial theory. The Associated Press is reporting that Carradine, found in a hotel room closet with a rope tied to his neck and genitals, might have died of accidental suffocation. There was no suicide note, and Pornthip Rojanasunand, director of Thailand's Central Institute of Forensic Science, said it's possible Carradine died attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation, which entails cutting off oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal.
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Following reports Thursday that actor David Carradine had tragically committed suicide in his Bangkok hotel room, Thai police are now questioning their initial theory. The Associated Press is reporting that Carradine, found in a hotel room closet with a rope tied to his neck and genitals, might have died of accidental suffocation. There was no suicide note, and Pornthip Rojanasunand, director of Thailand's Central Institute of Forensic Science, said it's possible Carradine died attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation, which entails cutting off oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal.

AP interviewed Tiffany Smith, one of Carradine's managers, who said: "All we can say is, we know David would never have committed suicide. We're just waiting for them to finish the investigation and find out what really happened. He really appreciated everything life has to give ... and that's not something David would ever do to himself."

However, while police say they have ruled out foul play after interviewing hotel staff and reviewing surveillance footage of the corridors near Carradine’s room, many are suggesting otherwise. The Associated Press has reported the family of the actor have asked the F.B.I. and Dr. Michael Baden, a private forensics expert, to help investigate Mr. Carradine’s death. The family was upset over the weekend after learning that photos of Mr. Carradine’s body were published in a Thai newspaper. Additionally, the photo implicates a second party, as TMZ says it has a higher resolution copy of the photo, noting that fishnet stockings cover his body, and that you can also see red women's lingerie on the bed. Movieline's S.T. Van Airsdale sums up the speculation thoroughly here.

Thai police said today that they would "welcome the FBI's assistance," but only "as observers in the high-profile case." Thai police completed an autopsy on Carradine Friday, and results will not be ready "for at least three weeks because the cause of death was unclear."

Carradine was born John Arthur Carradine on Dec. 8, 1936, in Hollywood, California. His father was part of director John Ford’s company of character actors. His mother was the former Ardanelle McCool, the first of his father’s four wives. Carradine is survived by his wife, Annie Bierman, and four children. He was well-known for his work as Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s television series "Kung Fu" (which spawned sequels in the 1980s and 1990s, in which he also starred), and starred in over 200 films and television series, including work for directors Martin Scorcese (playing 'Big' Bill Shelly in 1972's "Boxcar Bertha"), Ingmar Bergman (playing Abel Rosenberg in 1977's "The Serpent's Egg"), and Hal Ashby (playing Woody Guthrie in 1976's "Bound for Glory," in which he won a National Board of Review award for best actor, and was nominated for a Golden Globe). Recently, he found a significant career resurgence playing "Bill" in Quentin Tarantino's two-part "Kill Bill" films, and can be seen on the film festival circuit right now in David Lee Miller's well-received "My Suicide."

Memorials have been pouring in: Bruce Weber offers an extensive obituary at The New York Times; The Guardian's Xan Brooks has a "life in clips" memorial on his blog; The House Next Door has created a forum for people to share their thoughts and remembrances; Cinematical's Peter Martin takes a look at Carradine's lesser known works; Entertainment Weekly's Clark Collis said Carradine "was a sly, devilish, and at times downright freaky movie presence"; CHUD's David Oliver wrote of the actor: "In a staggering career that ranged from the 1966 TV series Shane, to the iconic Kung Fu in the 1970s, to Death Race 2000, all the way to Kill Bill, Carradine is a man who seemingly did it all on film, for all the good and bad that that entailed"; While Living In Cinema's Craig Kennedy emphasizes that while "speculation as to the circumstances and cause of his death are spreading around the Internet," the "only important fact is that Caine walks the earth no more."