One of the most prolific and beloved American actors, a famous Kung Fu and Qigong aficionado, David Carradine, 72, was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok. Carradine was in Thailand filming the movie Stretch when his nude body was discovered on Thursday morning. His body was found in a sitting position in the closet of his room, bound by curtain rope around his neck, wrists, genitals and attached to a closet bar.
The mystery of the actor’s demise continues to generate international controversy. After a maid found hiss body in a closet in his Bangkok hotel room, police called it a suspected suicide. But the people who were close to the actor refuse to believe it. The family of the actor have asked the FBI to intervene. Lumpini police chief Col. Samprasong Yenthuam stated that the FBI need approval from the Office of the Attorney General in order to do so.
It seems that the Royal Thai Police have closed this case all too quickly announcing that it was a suicide by auto-sexual strangulation. Instructed by the police, the Swiss Hotel where the body was discovered in room 352, erected a wall of silence trying to cover up a murder. The tourist industry has been severely damaged by the recession and political instability. The murder of a famous film star would be a final nail in the coffin of the tourism industry. Something is rotten in that city seething with crime and prostitution. Any western country would conduct a far more sophisticated investigation.
Bangkok is known as a city of love for sale. Film makers often come to Bangkok to shoot and avail themselves of the pleasures to be found there. Kinky sex is popular and considered no big deal. Could this be a coverup for a sex-related robbery gone awry?
The strange circumstances of the verdict by auto-sexual strangulation trouble not only the members of the Carradine’s family, but many people who knew him. Why indeed would a man of his talent take his own life?
Dr. Bruce Hensel interviewed David Winters regarding the mysterious circumstances of Carradine’s demise. Winters explains Carradine portrayed a bounty hunter in the films. He scoffs at the premise that Carradine died of auto-erotic asphyxiation. Dr. Bruce asks David if Carradine committed suicide. Winters emphatically replies in the negative. According to him, David Carradine was a consummate gentleman, a brilliant actor, and a man for all seasons.
“David would never kill himself …. for sure …. he was happily working and that was all he wanted in life … he was on a roll as Chuck and Tiffany his agents say. He had many more films to make and money was rolling in.
“David starred in 2 films for me and I knew him quite well as a personal friend and he would not do this when he had a rebirth so to speak as a movie star! When he called me I told him how wonderful Bangkok was, I wish I had never said that now.
“Keith Carradine is right about wanting the FBI to investigate the case.
“This will probably get me killed too… But someone has to speak for David as he cannot…”
Winters spoke to Chuck Binder and Tiffany Smith, Carradine’s agents. The actor was lined up for work years in advance. People of his social class always have the mandatory gold Rolex watch, diamond ring and gold chain, as well as a wad of spending cash. No mentioning of this was made by the police.
According to blogger Antonio Pineda, David Winters believes that a katoey, or transexual, could have easily possessed the strength to murder Carradine. Transexuals are part and parcel of the Bangkok scene. They frequently masquerade as prostitutes and are often indistinguishable from the real deal.
“It could done by a katoey, who would be strong enough and big enough to pick David up and hang him in the closet. I want to see the tapes from the hotel’s cameras and check them out as they may have been tampered with already.”
An investigative journalist David Walker says he and a CBS crew were denied access to view the corpse at the morgue. The security surveillance tapes from the hotel were also unavailable to view.
Another film producer Tom Waller states that he does not believe in the suicide verdict either. He suspects that it was a sex robbery gone wrong, and that to cover the motives, the body had been arranged to fit the profile of death by auto-sexual strangulation, a theory once confined to the genre of psychological thriller novels.
Richard Diran, the author of Vanishing Tribes of Burma, who has seen the pix of the body, bound by curtain rope, in a local newspaper Thai Rath, also questions how Carradine could have hung himself in the closet hands tied behind his back.
“We are not saying it’s an accidental death because we don’t know,” says Tiffany Smith. “Right now we are just letting everyone know that it’s under investigation and we’ll see… I just know he didn’t do this to himself.”
A similar statement was made by Martin Zwieback, a writer-producer-director with 50 years of credits in Hollywood. Martin, who wrote the script for the original Kung Fu series and was a close friend of David Carradine’s, often graces the Bangkok film colony with his presence. It is fitting that an artiste of his stature have the final word in this affair. He remains firm in his claim that Carradine would never commit a suicide. Martin remembers Carradine as one of the great talents of his generation.
From his home in Santa Monica, he wrote, “…David was a gifted and underrated actor. I saw him at a screening of Kill Bill not too long ago. He seemed vibrant and clearly excited by the “second chance” Tarantino’s film had given him. Suicide in the middle of shooting a movie at this point in his life just doesn’t compute…”
Carradine’s dramatic skills were recognized by such directors as Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, and Hal Ashby who cast him in, respectively, 1972’s Boxcar Bertha, 1973’s The Long Goodbye, and 1976’s Bound for Glory. He was also beloved by Quentin Traction, who referenced Carradine’s TV show Kung Fu in Pulp Fiction and later cast the actor as the eponymous villain in his Kill Bill films.
The actor’s family was stunned by the news. In a statement, Carradine’s niece, actress Martha Plimpton, expressed the family’s sense of loss. “My Uncle David was a brilliantly talented, fiercely intelligent and generous man,” Plimpton said.
“He was the nexus of our family in so many ways, and drew us together over the years and kept us connected. I adored him as a child, and as an adult I admired and respected him. We will all miss him terribly.”