R.I.P. David Carradine – A Life in Costume

This past week, noted film actor David Carradine passed away in Bangkok at the age of 72 while filming While the circumstances surrounding Carradine’s death are still unknown, the star’s passing was certainly tragic.

A member of the famed Carradine family of actors, his father was John Carradine who starred in many films, horror movies, and as also Herman Munster’s boss, mortuary owner Mr. Gateman on The Munsters. His brothers included Keith, Robert, and Bruce Carradine.

Throughout his career, David Carradine was known for playing a wide variety of roles. The role that brought him the most fame, however, was as Kwai Chang Kane (known as “Grasshopper”) on the ’70s television series, Kung Fu.

Kung Fu - David Carradine

Carradine was not a martial artist at the time he undertook the role, but learned it for the series, becoming a life-long practitioner of Tai Chi and other arts. His love for martial arts gave him yet another prominent role in Circle of Iron a film based on Bruce Lee’s philosophies. In the film, Carradine played a number of roles including a blind flute player, the Monkeyman, Death, and a sultan character.

He also played the cowboy/gunslinger character, Shane in a television movie based on the classic novel. Carradine played yet another Western cowboy character alongside his brothers Keith and Robert in The Long Riders, taking place in the Old West telling the story of the infamous James Gang and the Younger Brothers team of outlaw bankrobbers.

In the mid-’80s, he portrayed cruel plantation owner and Southern “Gentleman”, Justin LaMotte during the Civil War in the television mini-series, North and South.

David Carradine as Justin LaMotte

However, the role that re-ignited his status as a film star was as the title character of Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts cult classic, Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. This character combined the elements of both of Carradine’s niche of playing characters with a Kung Fu or outlaw/cowboy bent as the head of a team of deadly assassins.

Kill Bill

Pay homage to the film star and run a marathon of his myriad of movies over the weekend. Order in some Chinese food and watch Kill Bill and Kung Fu episodes back to back. Check out our DIY tutorials on How to make your own Bill (Kill Bill} costume or pick up a Kung Fu Master Cheongsam-style shirt in honor of David Carradine.

Grasshopper may be gone, but he won’t be forgotten. Rest in peace.

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