BANGKOK/LOS ANGELES — Actor David Carradine, star of the 1970s U.S. television show Kung Fu, was found naked and hanging dead from a rope in the closet of his luxury Bangkok hotel room Thursday, Thai police said.
A Thai police commander said Friday that Carradine, 72, may have died from a sex act gone wrong, Agence France-Presse is reporting.
“There was a rope tied around his neck and another rope tied at his sex organ, and the two ropes were tied together and hung in the closet,” Lieutenant General Worapong Siewpreecha told AFP.
“Under these circumstances we cannot be sure that he committed suicide but he may have died from masturbation,” he said.
Thai coroners completed an autopsy on Friday on the Carradine’s body. Coroners at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn hospital said they had not yet determined the cause of the 72-year-old’s death and were waiting for the results of a toxicology screen.
“We are now running tests and then we will decide the cause of death,” the hospital’s chief coroner, Nantana Sirisap, told Reuters.
“This certainly was not a natural cause of death,” she said.
A maid found Carradine hanging naked by a rope in the closet of his hotel suite at the plush Swissotel Nai Lert Park hotel on Thursday, police said.
They said there was no indication other people had been in the room, where Carradine had stayed during the shooting of a film called Stretch.
A U.S. embassy official in Bangkok said he had no details of the police investigation.
Carradine, from a family of performers and the eldest son of character actor John Carradine, enjoyed a long career on Broadway, television and in movies such as director Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
While some media reports speculated his death may have been a suicide, a spokeswoman said neither they nor his family believed Carradine was capable of killing himself.
“His family is in shock,” said Tiffany Smith of Carradine’s management firm, Binder & Associates. “They have the same belief we have. There was no way David did this to himself.”
Carradine wrote in his 1995 autobiography Endless Highway that he had tried to kill himself when he was 5 years old. The book also documented his alcoholism and extensive use of drugs, from LSD to cocaine.
He worked on Broadway in The Deputy and The Royal Hunt of the Sun and made his mark on Hollywood in the 1960s in TV westerns such as Wagon Train, The Virginian and a TV version of the hit western movie Shane.
He was made most famous by his role in the U.S. series Kung Fu where he played Kwai Chang Caine, a half-Asian martial arts specialist, which earned him an Emmy nomination.
The role of Caine led to parts in more than 200 productions and his turn as the villainous Bill in Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 2 led to his fourth Golden Globe nomination.
Carradine was married five times and had two daughters from previous marriages.