David Carradine was born in Hollywood, California, the eldest son of legendary character actor John Carradine, and his wife, Ardanelle Abigail (McCool). He was a member of an acting family that included brothers Keith Carradine and Robert Carradine as well as his daughters Calista Carradine and Kansas Carradine, and nieces Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton.
He was born in Hollywood and educated at San Francisco State College, where he studied music theory and composition. It was while writing music for the Drama Department's annual revues that he discovered his own passion for the stage, joining a Shakespearean repertory company and learning his craft on his feet. After a two-year stint in the army, he found work in New York as a commercial artist and later found fame on Broadway in "The Deputy" and "The Royal Hunt of the Sun" opposite Christopher Plummer. With that experience he returned to Hollywood, landing the lead in the short-lived TV series Shane (1966) before being tapped to