David Carradine (December 8, 1936 - June 3, 2009) - A Message from Michael Dawson: Family, friends, and fans around the world mourn at the passing of David Carradine, actor, director, writer, musician and artist. David appeared in an impressive amount of films, such as the Kill Bill movies, Crank: High Voltage, Bird On A Wire, Lone Wolf McQuade, The Long Riders, Circle Of Iron, Gray Lady Down, The Serpent's Egg, the original Death Race 2000, Boxcar Bertha, Bound For Glory, and so many others. He also appeared in countless television shows, but David's perhaps best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine in the mystical-martial arts-western T.V. series Kung Fu, which originally aired in the 1970's and has since achieved measurable cult T.V. status. For those of you out there who haven't visited the Kung Fu Connection page here on the site, I worked with David for three years on Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, the sequel-series to the original show, which aired in the `90's. I was his Stunt Double for three seasons and also served as a Technical Advisor on the last two.
Although I had met David years ago when I was training and teaching at Kam Yuen's old kung-fu school in Torrance, CA, I didn't really get to know him until 1993, when I came to work for him on Kung Fu: T.L.C. Indeed, it was David who initially hired me on that show and was instrumental in giving me a career in stunt work. I owe him for that and so much more. You could say that he "discovered" me, and you'd be more than just accurate. As it was an honor and a privilege to work for him, it was equally an honor and a privilege to be his friend.
A close family member phoned me with the news of his passing in the early morning; hours before the story broke on the news and internet feeds. It was during one of the most violent and loudest thunderstorms I've experienced so far here since I've been living in New Orleans, LA. I was up when my phone rang. Upon hearing the news, it was like being struck by a bolt of lightning from the storm outside. At that moment, I felt my own childhood come to an abrupt, official end.
David Carradine literally changed my life and the course of my destiny. David's character of Kwai Chang Caine from the classic Kung Fu T.V. series was my childhood hero. His character inspired a vast portion of my life, including my desire to study kung-fu and pass on the art to others as a teacher. When I met David - the man - years later, he became one of the heroes of my adult life. David was often like a mentor to me. He was loyal, warm, soulful, funny, wicked, impish, and always sharp. The character of Caine continued to live inside of him years after he created him. More than just a role, Kwai Chang Caine was a part of David. I often thought that he was the "spiritual aspect" of David. You may not have always seen him, but Caine was always there inside of David somewhere.
David granted me a gift that so few people get to experience in their lives: the chance to walk in the shoes (or, in my case, barefoot or sandaled) of their own hero. David gave me the rare opportunity to participate and contribute in the making of Kwai Chang Caine. There was nothing more fun than getting to do something like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, one-in-a-million opportunity. It was - and still is - a very special honor to be a part of my own hero and his legacy, and I will always have David Carradine to thank for that.
My deepest sympathy and concerns respectfully go out to David's family and loved ones. I'm going to really miss him. My larger-than-life hero is gone. But, David Carradine leaves us with a wealth of memories and a body of work that will be forever remembered and cherished for years to come. He certainly made his mark while he was with us. David may be gone from this world, but he lives on forever in our hearts. In my heart, I know he's exploring just another endless highway, and he's walking it barefoot; with guitar and bamboo flute on his back.
You will never be forgotten. Farewell my hero and good friend.
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