Inside The Tragic 2009 Death Of David Carradine

Actor David Carradine was usually happiest when he was filming new movies, and his family says he was in a good place while filming "Stretch" (via ABC News). But tragically, he was found dead at his Bangkok hotel at age 72, in a manner that brought up lots of questions about his final hours and his private life. 

Since his acting debut in 1947, Carradine was known for his character Kwai Chang Caine in the TV show "Kung Fu" and later became best known as the titular character Bill in the "Kill Bill" film series (per IMDb). According to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Carradine starred in over 100 movies in his lifetime. BBC reports that actor David Carradine was staying at Swissotel Nai Lert Park, a five-star hotel, when his tragic 2009 death occurred. He was working on a movie shoot in Bangkok for "Stretch." According to TMZ, Carradine had an assistant to keep him on schedule and help him navigate Bangkok during filming. One night, the assistant called Carradine to go to dinner with the production staff, but Carradine missed the call, so the group went ahead without him.

His body was discovered by the hotel maid

David Carradine's body was found the next morning, June 4, 2009, by a hotel maid, who entered the room around 10 a.m. (via the Los Angeles Times). In the immediate aftermath of his death, it seemed like he had committed suicide. The actor was found wearing a wig and fishnet stockings (via NBC Washington). He was hanging from his hotel room closet, with his hands tied up over his head. Other parts of his body were tied up too, including his genitals and neck. There was a set of red women's lingerie on the bed by his side. According to ABC News, two of the cords were tied together in order to cut off his oxygen — a practice called autoerotic asphyxiation, which is used to increase pleasurability during masturbation. 

Due to the stigma around autoerotic asphyxiation, lots of people practice it in complete secrecy (per ABC News). However, this was no secret to Carradine's spouses, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court (via The Smoking Gun). Carradine enjoyed kink and "potentially deadly" sexual acts, as his ex-wife revealed in court documents pertaining to their divorce. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Kink was apparently routine for Carradine

Media outlets initially reported that David Carradine had died by suicide, but the cause of death was more complex, reports BBC. Per Reuters, Carradine was given two separate autopsies — one in Thailand and one in the United States — which both determined that he didn't die because of natural causes or of suicide. The cause of death was asphyxiation, or being unable to breathe.

Not everyone believes that Carradine's death was due to a solo sex act gone wrong. According to ABC News, Carradine's fourth wife, Marina Anderson, thinks it's possible he was murdered and that the scene was staged to look like a suicide or accident. Carradine was reportedly so into choking during sex that it was basically their normal routine. NBC Washington reports that Carradine's third wife, Gail Jensen, said that Carradine found erotic asphyxiation to be relaxing. 

However, Anderson said he didn't like to do erotic asphyxiation alone but always with a partner, which raised her suspicions (via ABC News). She noted that Bangkok is considered "sex heaven" and posited that he could have been robbed of his money or belongings. But without more evidence to prove the theories, Anderson admitted it could have just been an indulgent fantasy that took a nasty turn. 

A tabloid leaked his death photos

David Carradine had apparently tried out lots of his kinks before, including risky activities like simulating drowning in a pool, hanging himself in a crucifix style, and tying himself up or getting others to tie him up (per ABC News). According to NOLA, Carradine's loved ones were utterly horrified to find out that post-mortem photos of the actor hanging in the closet had been published by Thai Rath, a tabloid publication. The Carradine family contacted the FBI and threatened to take legal action once the culprit was found.

The actor's wife, Anne Carradine, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against MK2 in June 2010, claiming that the film company was supposed to have an assistant with Caradine all the time to guide him around Bangkok (via CBS News). She believed the company was wrong to leave her husband alone on the night of his death. The case was settled about a year later, in August 2011. Per TMZ, Anne Carradine was awarded $400,000 in the wrongful death suit.