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Thai coroner seeks cause of "Kung Fu" actor's death

By Kittipong Soonprasert

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai coroners completed an autopsy on Friday on the body of actor David Carradine, a day after the star of the U.S. television show "Kung Fu" was found naked and hanging dead in his luxury Bangkok hotel room.

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.

FAMILY SHOCKED

"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.

(Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte, Laura Isensee and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee)

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