Actor David Carradine was found dead in the closet of a Bangkok hotel room Thursday with a cord wrapped around his neck and genitals, leading Thai police to suspect his death was not a suicide but an accident resulting from dangerous sex practices.
Carradine, 72, best known for his role in the 1970s television drama "Kung Fu," was found by a chamber maid at Bangkok's Park Nai Lert Hotel naked and dead, slumped in a closet with cords bound and connecting his neck and his genitals, Bangkok police said.
"The two ropes were tied together," Police Lt. Gen. Worapong Chewprecha told reporters. "It is unclear whether he committed suicide or not or he died of suffocation or heart failure."
Citing Porntip Rojanasunan, the director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, told the Bangkok Post that the actor may have died from auto-erotic asphyxiation, the practice of cutting off one's air supply to heighten sexual pleasure. Carradine had been in Thailand since May 29 to shoot his latest film, "Stretch."
Thai Police completed the autopsy Friday, but would not release the results until next week, Police Col. Somprasong Yenthuam told the Associated Press.
Somprasong said there was no indication that there was someone else in the room with Carradine at the time of his death.
Recently discovered court documents from the actor's latest divorce posted by The Smoking Gunsuggest that Carradine may have have long history of "deviant sexual behavior which was potentially deadly," according to ex-wife Marina Anderson.
In a a sworn statement filed in 2003, Anderson also alleged that Carradine carried on an "incestuous relationship with a very close family member."
The court documents do not include details about Carradine's "deviant sexual behavior" or name the family member with whom Anderson alleges he had a relationship.
Carradine's been married five times and has two children.
Born in 1936 in Hollywood, Calif., Carradine came from a showbiz family. His father was actor John Carradine, and his brothers were actors Bruce, Robert and Keith Carradine.
Friends of Carradine initially skeptical that the veteran actor would have intentionally killed himself were shocked at details emerging from the investigation.
"It is shocking to me that he is no longer with us. I had been thinking about calling him for the last several days and advise anybody who has been thinking about reaching out to a loved one to do so," said actor Michael Madsen, who worked with Carradine on "Kill Bill" and in the upcoming "Six Days in Paradise."
"I've just been told that possibly his hands were tied, in either the front or the back, and that there was something in his mouth, stuffed in his mouth, and that he used a rope that is used with the curtains," said friend David Winters
Carradine was perhaps best known for his role as Caine, a Chinese martial-arts master wandering the American West in the 1970s television series "Kung Fu." Though he had starred in more than 100 films, his career was most recently revived in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" (2003) and "Kill Bill II" (2004) in which he played a steely assassin.
The actor spoke openly about his earlier abuse of drugs and alcohol but had reportedly remained sober for several years. Friends and family said he had no history of depression.
"I didn't get into drinking till I was in my 40s, and by that time I had stepped away from the rest of drugs," he told the Irish Times in 2004.
"There was only a period of a few years when I was drinking too much. I had a friend who was a mentor, and he suddenly said, 'I've never seen you abuse a substance before.' I said, 'Am I doing that now?' And I was. That was spring of 1996. I like to think that I stopped drinking on St. Patrick's Day, but it was actually a month later," he told the paper.
Of primarily Irish ancestry, Carradine's ambiguous features landed him a lifetime of roles playing a range of ethnicities, although he was often cast as Chinese.
He most recently starred as Poon Dong, a Chinese mobster, in the action film "Crank: High Voltage."