John Carradine, the patriarch of an American acting family whose members have appeared in more than 500 films, has died at age 82, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The spokeswoman at Fatebenefratelli Hospital, who declined to give her name, said Carradine died Sunday. She said he had been hospitalized since Thursday, but she would not disclose the cause of death.She said two of his sons, actors Keith and David, had come to Milan.
Tony Renis, an Italian pop singer who said he is a close friend of David Carradine, called The Associated Press from a Milan hotel and said, "David is here with me. He does not want to talk to the press immediately. He confirms that his father died yesterday in Milan."
John Carradine appeared in such classics as "Stagecoach" with John Wayne and "Grapes of Wrath" with Henry Fonda. He also played leads in numerous B-movies, often horror, and portrayed Count Dracula three times.
Carradine was born Richmond Reed Carradine in New York City's Greenwich Village on Feb. 5, 1906. His father was an attorney, poet and printer who become an Associated Press correspondent in London. His mother was a surgeon.
As a young man, Carradine hitchhiked his way across America, drawing sketches of people he met to pay for food, and ended up in Los Angeles aboard a banana train.
He became known as a lean character with gaunt features who strolled Hollywood Boulevard in a velvet suit and cape, reciting Shakespeare to anyone who would listen. He was known as "Bard of the Boulevard."
He made his film debut in 1930 with the talkie remake of "Tol'able David."
By 1935, he had changed his name to John Carradine, and his glorious voice attracted the attention of John Ford and other directors, making him one of Hollywood's busiest character actors.
"I never made big money in Hollywood; I was paid in hundreds, the stars got thousands," he said in a 1986 interview. "But I worked with some of the greatest directors in films and some of the greatest writers. They gave me freedom to do what I can do best, and that was gratifying."
He always returned to Shakespeare, touring the country with his own company.
He gave this advice to the four of his five sons who became actors: "Read all the Shakespeare you can. If you can play Shakespeare, you can play anything."
His acting sons are David, best known for playing a half-Chinese priest in the television show "Kung Fu," Robert, Keith and Bruce. Only Christopher Carradine, an architect, is not an actor.
Funeral arrangements are pending.