I confess that I was not a big fan of David's, I suppose because I had no interest in his role in Kung Fu, which made him into a martial arts icon. His earlier breakout performance was in Bound for Glory, a bio-pic about folk singer Arlo Guthrie, which I also have not seen. But I have no doubt he was a fine actor, if for no other reason that it was in his genes.
The Carradine clan must be Hollywood's largest acting dynasty, beating the Baldwins, the Bridges, the Arquettes, and the Fondas. Patriarch John Carradine was surely the most prolific of the family, appearing in hundreds of films and television shows during his long career.
If he is remembered at all these days, it is as a regular player in lower budgeted films of the western and horror genre. His gaunt face and deep basso voice kept him employed for 60 years or more. John Ford used him frequently, and he created the role of the disillusioned preacher in the classic Grapes of Wrath:John was an experienced stage actor, and led his own Shakespearean troop for many years. He has a fond place in my heart for his stint in the original production of one of my favorite musicals, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, in which he created the role of the procurer Marcus Lycus (he's on the far left).
Middle son Keith Carradine is well-known for his appearances in several Robert Altman films, including Nashville, in which he sang his own composition, "I'm Easy." He won the songwriting Oscar for the tune. (Keith will be starring in this week's Friday Dance Party in these pages...aren't you trembling in anticipation?)
Robert Carradine is fairly well-known these days for having played Hillary Duff's father on the Disney series Lizzie McGuire. In his earlier career, he was a regular in the Revenge of the Nerds film series, and appeared with his siblings David and Keith as the Younger Brothers in The Long Riders.