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Keith Carradine (1949)

Keith Ian Carradine

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Keith Ian Carradine is an American actor who has had success on stage, film and television. In addition, he is a Golden Globe and Academy Award winning songwriter. As a member of the Carradine family, he is part of an acting "dynasty" that began with his father, John Carradine.


 early life
Keith Carradine was born in San Mateo, California. He is the son of actress and artist Sonia Sorel (née Henius) and actor John Carradine. His paternal half-brothers are Bruce Carradine and David Carradine. His maternal half-brother is Michael Bowen, and his full brothers are Christopher and Robert Carradine. His maternal great-grandfather was biochemist Max Henius, and his maternal great-grandmother was the sister of historian Johan Ludvig Heiberg.

Carradine's childhood was difficult. He said that his father drank and his mother “was a manic depressive paranoid schizophrenic catatonic — she had it all.” His parents were divorced in 1957, when he was eight years old. A bitter custody battle led to his father gaining custody of him and his brothers, Christopher and Robert, after the children had spent three months in a home for abused children as wards of the court. Keith said of the experience, "It was like being in jail. There were bars on the windows, and we were only allowed to see our parents through glass doors. It was very sad. We would stand there on either side of the glass door crying." He was raised primarily by his maternal grandmother, and he rarely saw either of his parents. His mother was not permitted to see him for eight years following the custody settlement.

After high school, Carradine entertained the thought of becoming a forest ranger, but opted to study drama at Colorado State University. He dropped out after one semester and drifted back to California moving in with his older half-brother, David. David encouraged Keith to pursue an acting career, paid for his acting and vocal lessons, and helped him get an agent.

As a youth, Carradine had opportunities to appear on stage with his father, John Carradine, in the latter's productions of Shakespeare. Thus, he had some background in theater when he was cast in the original Broadway run of Hair , which launched his acting career. In that production he started out in the chorus and worked his way up to the lead roles playing Woof and Claude. He said of his involvement in Hair, "I really didn't plan to audition. I just went along with my brother, David, and his girlfriend at the time, Barbara Hershey, and two of their friends. I was simply going to play the piano for them while they sang, but I'm the one the staff wound up getting interested in."

His stage career is further distinguished by his Tony-nominated performance, for Best Actor as the title character in the Tony Award winning musical, the Will Rogers Follies in 1991, for which he also received a Drama Desk nomination. He won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Foxfire with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, and appeared as Lawrence in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Imperial Theater. In 2008, he appeared as Dr. Farquhar Off-Broadway in Mindgame, a thriller by Antony Horowitz, directed by Ken Russell, who made his New York directorial debut with the production.

Carradine's first notable film appearance was in director Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller, in 1971. He then starred in Altman's 1974 film Thieves Like Us, and went on to play one of the principal characters, a callow, womanizing folk singer, Tom Frank, in Altman's critically acclaimed 1975 film, Nashville (See "Music and song writing"). He had difficulty shaking the image of Tom Frank following the popularity of the film. He felt the role gave him the reputation of being "a cad."

In 1977, Carradine starred opposite Harvey Keitel in Ridley Scott's The Duellists. He has also acted in several offbeat films of Altman's protégé Alan Rudolph, playing a disarmingly candid madman in Choose Me , an incompetent petty criminal in Trouble in Mind , and an American artist in 1930s Paris in The Moderns .

Other works include Emperor of the North Pole and Pretty Baby . He also appeared with his brothers David and Robert as the Younger brothers in Walter Hill's 1980 film, The Long Riders. Keith played Jim Younger in that film. In 1981, he appeared again under Hill's direction in Southern Comfort. In 1994, he had a cameo role as Will Rogers in Rudolph's 1994 film about Dorothy Parker, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. He co-starred with Daryl Hannah as homicidal sociopath John Netherwood in the 1995 thriller The Tie That Binds.

 Music and song writing
In addition to acting, the Carradine family is musically gifted. This is particularly true of Keith. His brother, David, said in an interview that Keith could play any instrument that he wanted to, including bagpipes and the French horn. Like David, Keith integrated his musical talents with his acting performances. In 1975, he performed a song he wrote, I'm Easy, in the movie Nashville. It became a popular hit, and Carradine won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Original Song for the tune. This success led to a brief singing career, as he signed a contract with Asylum Records and released two albums – I'm Easy and Lost & Found . In 1984 he appeared in the video for Madonna's single Material Girl. In the early 1990s he played the lead role in the Tony Award winning musical, The Will Rogers Follies.

In 1972, Keith Carradine appeared briefly in the first season of the hit television series, Kung Fu, which starred his brother, David. He played a younger version of David's character, Kwai Chang Caine. In 1987, he starred in the highly-rated CBS miniseries Murder Ordained with JoBeth Williams and Kathy Bates. Other TV appearances include My Father My Son, a television film in 1988. In 1983, he appeared as Foxy Funderburke, a murderous pedophile, in the television miniseries Chiefs, based on the Stuart Woods novel of the same name. His performance in Chiefs earned him a nomination for a Emmy Award in the "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special" category.
Carradine starred in the ABC sitcom Complete Savages, and played Wild Bill Hickok in the HBO series Deadwood.

Carradine hosted the documentary Wild West Tech series on the History Channel during the 2003-2004 season, before handing the duties over to his brother, David. In the 2005 miniseries Into the West, produced by Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks, Carradine played Richard Henry Pratt. During the second and fourth seasons of the Showtime series Dexter, he appeared numerous times on as FBI Special Agent Frank Lundy. Carradine is also credited with guest starring twice on the suspense-drama Criminal Minds, as the psychopathic serial killer Frank Breitkopf. A few other shows that he has guest starred in include The Big Bang Theory and the Starz series Crash.

He will do a voice over for the character Blake Dexter in the upcoming video game Hitman: Absolution.

 personal life
Keith Carradine met Shelley Plimpton when they both were in the Broadway musical Hair. Though she was married to actor Steve Curry, she and Keith became romantically involved. After Keith left the show and had gone back to California he learned that Shelley was pregnant and had reunited with Steve. “I said, ‘You’re on your own,’ basically,” Carradine admitted. "I said, ‘I can’t deal with this.’ I was 19 and, as I said, it was probably my low point.” He had a change of heart and met his daughter, Martha Plimpton, when she was four years old, after Shelley and Steve had divorced. He said of Shelley, "She did a hell of a job raising Martha. I was not there. I was a very young man, absolutely terrified. She just took that in, and then she welcomed me into Martha’s life when I was ready.”

Carradine married Sandra Will on February 6, 1982. They were separated in 1993 and subsequently divorced. They had two children: Cade Richmond Carradine, and Sorel Johannah Carradine . In 2006, Sandra Will pled guilty to two counts of perjury for lying to a grand jury about her involvement in the Anthony Pellicano wire tap scandal. Sandra Will hired, and then became romantically involved with, Pellicano after her divorce from Carradine. According to FBI documents, Pellicano tapped Keith Carradine's telephone and recorded calls between him and girlfriend Hayley DuMond at Sandra Will Carradine's request, as well as DuMond's parents. On November 18, 2006, Keith Carradine married actress Hayley DuMond, in Turin, Italy. They met in 1997 when they co-starred in the Burt Reynolds film The Hunter's Moon.

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