Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another Dead Hero

From my childhood, at least. David Carradine was found dead today in his hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand. He was 72. Police suspect his death to be a suicide. Here's the AP article.

I wasn't allowed to watch Kung Fu when it first came out - mom was scared to death (and rightly so!) that I would try to emulate the fight scenes on the neighborhood kids. But in my teen years I bought a VHS copy of the series premiere and watched it until it almost wore out. I think I still have it tucked away in a box somewhere.

Kung Fu was how I discovered that the Western way of thinking wasn't the only way. Sure it was Hollywood faux Zen and Kung Fu, and yes, Carradine's character, Kwai Chang Caine, was originally supposed to be played by Bruce Lee (studio executives felt that Lee was "too ethnic," so they picked Carradine, who didn't have a drop of Asian blood in his veins), but he was the entry point to the Shaolin way, and interested me enough that I was willing to study Kung Fu (I gots me a Brown Sash, baby!), study Zen (still don't understand that, but I believe that's the way it's supposed to be), and take some long hard introspective looks.

For that, at least, I am grateful for Carradine's work. After doing the Kung Fu series and the series sequel in the '90s, he went on to actually adopt the life. He wrote a book on Shaolin philosophy, created Tai Chi and Chi Gong workout videos and cleaned up his life. Oh, Kill Bill 1 & 2 were pretty good flicks, too.

I just wonder what was going on that he felt the need to take his own life. According to the article, he was working on a film and things seemed to be going well. I guess, as with many people who complete suicide, we will never know for sure why.

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