I don’t usually do “celebrity” obituaries. Something caught —my eye in the papers the other day: The actor David Carradine passed away.
I grew up not liking him, or his acting. I was a fan of the Green Hornet TV show and loved—or rather, wanted–to be Bruce Lee. So, being a Bruce Lee fan, I was always a little pissed to find out that Carradine stole the concept for the show Kung Fu from Bruce Lee: Lee had proposed it but the studios were unsure if a show starring a Chinese actor would sell. So Lee went to China and did kick-ass movies, and Carradine later proposed Kung Fu as his show, and it sold.
If Lee had been successful in his Kung Fu proposal, it’s possible he might never have made Enter the Dragon—and that Lee might never have become a legend.
Years later, in 1987, CBS aired a sequel to the show, in the made-for-TV movie Kung Fu: The Next Generation. Lee’s son Brandon was cast as Carradine’s trainee. Too funny.
Fast forward to 2003 and Carradine is the star of Quentin Tarantino’s two-part tribute to all things martial arts, Kill Bill. When these flicks came out, I had no desire to see them. I thought Tarantino had already strayed from the initial (and successful) formula of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction with Jackie Brown (Four Rooms was okay though.)
Anyway, at the end of 2003, I took my two nephews to a comic book convention in Pasadena, where the Hell Boy and Kill Bill movies were being promoted. The creator of The Crow comic book was supposed to be there.
So, I wandered over to talk to the Crow guy (the movie starred Brandon Lee) but the guy standing at his table said he had walked off to lunch. I turned around to go, and I bumped into a table. Sitting at that table was David Carradine. He was looking at me out of the corners of his eyes, so I smiled and said “Hi.” He turned away from me and started a conversation with some guy sitting behind him. I thought maybe I should comment on Kill Bill, so I said, “Congratulations on the success.” Again, he looked at me out of the corners of his eyes, then looked back at his new friend, and rolled his eyes. I stood there for a minute, looked at one of my nephews, and said as quietly as I could, “Fuck you, you stupid old prick. If it wasn’t for people like us, you’d still be hawking your whack-ass tai chi DVDs on late night TV.”