To most people David Carradine was the star of Kill Bill but for those of Capricorn Research’s generation he will be forever remembered as the Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine, who was named Grasshopper by his teacher in the early 70s TV series Kung Fu. The show helped to popularize martial arts and Eastern philosophy in the west.
Each episode seemed to involve the shaven headed Carradine being threatened by various dodgy cowboy types whilst struggling to remember his master’s advice to stay calm. All of us watching were yelling at him to ignore this advice and dish out the karate style vengeance and eventually he would leap into action leaving all the villains in a dishevelled heap.
David Carradine’s life seemed to be a reflection of Grasshoppers dilemma. He was a wonderful actor with a long list of successes over a career that lasted 45 years. Like the Caine character, he was a wanderer, the son of a frequently married actor, he had an unstable childhood. This instability would continue throughout his life as he himself was married five times. He was also frequently arrested and prosecuted for a variety of offenses which often involved substance abuse.
His chart naturally confirms all this but also serves as a great portrayal of Grasshopper.
The sign of the explorer, drifter or wanderer type figure would have to be Sagittarius and Carradine has the Sun there in the 9th house of long distance travel. The Sun is the apex of a T Square involving an opposition between an Ascendant / Saturn conjunction in Pisces and Neptune. This is a beautiful description of the role of Grasshopper.
The Ascendant in a chart often relates to beginnings and where a person starts out from. The Neptune / Pisces symbolism is the spiritual dimension and is linked to retreat and the monastic way of life. Saturn rising is all about self discipline and control. So we have the austere training of a Kung Fu background but this opposition focuses onto the nomadic Sun in Sagittarius as the character travels through the American wild west, a place where he obviously stands out as a challenge to the locals despite his continual assertion that he wants to be left in peace ( Saturn and Neptune ).
As he meets his challenges he frequently visualises his past experience in the monastery and his master making Zen like observations which to an early 70s TV audience seemed both intriguing and whimsical. His given name Grasshopper, the one who can’t keep still seems odd in terms of his training but perfectly fits the Sun in Sagittarius in the 9th house.
Carradine’s chart is one of the most challenging as it has either 3 T Squares or one T Square and a Grand Cross, depending on how you look at it.
There is an opposition between Venus and Pluto which focuses onto an apex Moon / Mars conjunction in Libra and this also works very well with the Kung Fu script. Venus is Caine minding his own business in Capricorn operating with his own ideals in the 11th house but he continually comes across baddies ( Pluto ) who insist on challenging him ( Venus opposite Pluto ). This turns a peace loving hippy type ( Moon in Libra in the 7th house ) into a karate fighter ( apex Mars ) who invariably deals the baddies their comeuppance ( Mars square Pluto ).
The other focus of this opposition is a T Square to an apex Uranus and Caine’s attempts to deal with the cowboy baddies always results in him becoming even more of an outsider ( Uranus ) that nobody understands and he has to move on again ( back to the apex Sun in Sagittarius ).
The critical opposition between Carradine’s Ascendant / Saturn conjunction and Neptune played its part in a number of arrests by the authorities ( Saturn ) for drink or drug related issues ( Neptune ). In 1967 he was arrested for possession of marijuana. in 1974, he was arrested again, this time for attempted burglary and malicious mischief while under the influence of peyote. In 1980, while in South Africa he was arrested again for the possession of marijuana and was convicted and given a suspended sentence. He was arrested twice for driving under the influence of alcohol, in 1984 and again in 1989.
Neptune was in the 7th house of relationships so the same opposition had an impact on his married life. He was first married to Donna Lee Becht in 1960 but the marriage dissolved in 1968. In 1969, he met actress Barbara Hershey and they lived together until 1975. In February 1977, Carradine married his second wife, Linda Anne Gilbert, which ended in divorce, as did the two that followed, to Gail Jensen from 1986–1997 and Marina Anderson from 1998–2001. In 2004, Carradine married the widowed Annie Bierman. Carradine had proclaimed himself to be a “serial monogamist”.
The two themes from the Saturn / Neptune opposition actually came together when he died in 2009 from asphyxiation ( Neptune ). Immediately following his death, two of his former wives, Gail Jensen and Marina Anderson, stated publicly that his sexual interests included the practice of self-bondage ( Saturn ). Carradine was found hanging by a rope naked in the room’s closet, causing immediate speculation that his death was suicide. However, reported evidence suggested that his death was the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. Two autopsies were conducted and concluded that the death was not a suicide. The cause of his death became widely accepted as “accidental asphyxiation”.
The transiting Saturn was in the T Square conjunct his Neptune and square his Sun in 2009.
As an actor David Carradine had a very successful career. His first “big break”, came in 1965 in The Royal Hunt of the Sun, a performance he believed that “Many of the important roles that I got later on were because the guy who was going to hire me was in that audience and had his mind blown.” Pluto was square his Sun in 1965.
Immediately following the Kung Fu series, Carradine accepted the role as the race car driver Frankenstein in Death Race 2000 to “kill the image of Caine and launch a movie career”, although he reprised the role of Kwai Chang Caine in a number of films and a further TV series in the 1990s. He also played a number of roles that were originally intended for Bruce Lee but for the martial arts king’s tragic early death.
He worked with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman who said of his leading man, “I don’t believe in God, but Heaven must have sent him.”
After a quiet spell during the 1990s Carradine enjoyed a sudden revival of his fame when he was cast in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies in 2003. This was both a complete reinvention of his career but also a return to the martial arts roles that defined him as an actor. He was expected to receive an Oscar nomination for the role but did get a Golden Globe nomination and a Saturn Award, for Best Supporting Actor. Pluto was conjunct Carradine’s Sun in 2003 marking the turning point of his life.
With an apex Sun in Sagittarius in the 9th house, David Carradine’s life was an eventful journey. There were times when he would have been well advised to take Grasshopper’s teacher’s advice to stay calm, but with 3 T Squares that would be much easier said than done.