Robert Carradine

Robert Reed Carradine (born March 24, 1954) is an American actor. A member of the Carradine family, he made his first appearances on television western series such as Bonanza and his late brother David's TV series, Kung Fu. Carradine's first film role was in the 1972 film The Cowboys, which starred John Wayne and Roscoe Lee Browne. Carradine also portrayed fraternity president "Lewis Skolnick" in the Revenge of the Nerds series of comedy films.

Robert Carradine
Carradine holding a producer credit for
The 1 Second Film in October 2004
Robert Reed Carradine

(1954-03-24) March 24, 1954
Years active1971–present
Edie Mani (m. 1990)

Early life

Carradine was born in Hollywood, California, the son of actress and artist Sonia Sorel (née Henius) and actor John Carradine. He is one of many actors in the Carradine family. He is the brother of Christopher and Keith Carradine, paternal half-brother of Bruce and the late David Carradine, and maternal half-brother of Michael Bowen.[1] His maternal great-grandfather was biochemist Max Henius, and his maternal great-grandmother was the sister of historian Johan Ludvig Heiberg.[2]

Carradine's parents divorced when he was 2 years old. A bitter custody battle led to his father gaining custody of him and his brothers, Christopher and Keith. During the custody battle, the children spent three months in a home for abused children as wards of the court.[3] His brother, 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".[4]

Carradine was raised primarily by his stepmother, his father's third wife, Doris Grimshaw, and believed her to be his mother until he was introduced to Sonia Sorel at a Christmas party when he was 14 years old.[5] While still in high school, Robert lived with his half-brother, David, in Laurel Canyon, California. Under David's care he indulged in two of his major interests: race car driving and music.[6] He and David belonged to a musical quartet that performed in small clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco.[5]

Acting career


Carradine made his film debut in 1972 in The Cowboys with John Wayne.[7] He was also featured in a short-lived television series, of the same name, based on the movie. He made an appearance as a killer in the Martin Scorsese film Mean Streets shooting to death the character played by his brother, David.

During this time he worked with David on some independent projects including a biker film called You and Me (1975) and an unreleased musical called A Country Mile. He also did camera work for David's cult classic Vietnam War-inspired Americana which was not released until 1983.[6]

In 1976, Carradine had the opportunity to demonstrate on screen what he considered to be his "first ambition", car racing,[5] when he played Jim Cantrell in Paul Bartel's Cannonball. In the film Robert's character wins the cross country road race, beating the favorite, Coy "Cannonball" Buckman, played by his brother, David. In 1977, Robert became a snack for the vengeful killer whale in the Jaws imitation film Orca.[8]

In 1978, Robert landed a demanding role in Hal Ashby's Oscar-winning Vietnam War drama, Coming Home, which starred Jane Fonda and Jon Voight. His performance caused some speculation that he might be the best actor in his family.[5]

Robert was instrumental in securing his brothers David and Keith to perform with him in one of the most unusual casting arrangements in movie history. Together the Carradines played the Younger brothers in The Long Riders (1980) along with three other sets of acting brothers: Stacy and James Keach, Dennis and Randy Quaid, and Christopher and Nicholas Guest.[9]

Also in 1980, Carradine co-starred with Mark Hamill and Lee Marvin in Samuel Fuller's The Big Red One recounting Fuller's WW II experience. His character, who was based on Fuller himself, narrated the film.[10]

In 1983, he and Cherie Curie starred in the science fiction movie Wavelength in which he played a washed up rock star who helps extraterrestrials escape from a military base.[11] For the film he performed his own compositions including one named after his daughter, Ever. Also in 1983, he starred in the music video for The Motels hit song "Suddenly Last Summer" as lead singer Martha Davis' love interest.

Carradine's biggest film success to date came in 1984 when he starred in Revenge of the Nerds as the lead nerd Lewis Skolnick. To prepare for the comedy, Carradine spent time at The University of Arizona, where the movie was filmed, participating in rush week. "No fraternity picked him, convincing Carradine that he was indeed right for the part of the nerd that nobody wanted to claim as their own."[12] Carradine reprised the role of Skolnick in three sequels, taking over as executive producer in the latter two. In 2018, Carradine joined Andrew Cassese and Don Gibb in an interview at the Niagara Falls Comic Con.[13] In 2001 he played Donald Keeble in Max Keeble's Big Move. In 2000 he co-starred with Caroline Rhea in Mom's Got a Date with a Vampire. He reprised his role as Sam McGuire in The Lizzie McGuire Movie in 2003.


Carradine's first television appearance was in 1971, on the classic western series, Bonanza. He also appeared on his brother David's series, Kung Fu, as Sunny Jim, the mute companion of Serenity Johnson, played by his father, John Carradine, in an episode called Dark Angel (1972). In 1979, he was alongside Melissa Sue Anderson in Survival of Dana.[6] In 1984, Carradine played Robert Cohn in the television mini-series version of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.[14] He appeared in the 1987 HBO mini-series, Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8.[15] He was also a guest star in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent entitled Gone (2005, Season 4, Episode 11). He also appeared in Jane Doe, a TV series directed by James A. Contner, in 2007.

He played father Sam McGuire on Lizzie McGuire from 2001-2004. The show starred Hilary Duff as Lizzie and was widely popular among girls. The show's realistic approach to the problems of a 13-year-old girl also appealed to parents. [16][17]

He appeared in the ER episode "Sleepless in Chicago" alongside Nerds co-star Anthony Edwards.

In January 2013, he and former Revenge of the Nerds co-star, Curtis Armstrong, hosted King of the Nerds on TBS, a reality TV series in which a group of nerds compete to find out which one is the nerdiest.

In 2015 he appeared on a fourth season episode of Celebrity Wife Swap with Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens. This was filmed while he was still recovering after his accident.

Personal life

Carradine has two daughters, actress Ever Carradine (with Susan Snyder), Marika Reed Carradine with his wife Edie Mani, and a son, Ian Alexander Carradine. He is also the uncle (via his older brother Keith) of actress Martha Plimpton.

2015 car crash

TMZ reported on March 12, 2015, that Carradine was involved in a serious car accident. He was rushed to the hospital. His wife was also injured in the crash.[18] He was on his way to Telluride, Colorado, where his brother Keith had lived in the early 1990s.


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1982 3rd Genie Awards Best Performance by a Foreign Actor
1987 8th CableACE Awards Best Actor in a Theatrical or Dramatic Special
As Is
1998 16th Golden Boot Awards N/A N/A Honored


  1. Kleiner, Dick. Carradines: 8 Sons, 2 Dads, 3 Moms.The Sumter Daily Item. June 1, 1982, p. 10.
  2. The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States as Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders, and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women who are Doing the Work and Moulding the Thought of the Present Time. 1971.
  3. Rader, Dotson. I Didn't Want to Fail.Parade Magazine. September 29, 1991. Page 14
  4. Deihl, Digby, Getting Personal With Keith Carradine.Boca Raton News. November 4, 1984, g. 99.
  5. Scott, Vernon. Young Robert May Top All Carradines. Sarasota Herald. February 22, 1978, p. 7B.
  6. Carradine, David. Endless Highway. (1995) Journey Editions
  7. Anderson, Nancy. Hollywood Hotline. Kingsport Post. February 3, 1972, p. 8.
  8. Anderson, George, "Old Soldier, A Killer Whale". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. August 25, 1977, p. 24.
  9. Scott, Vernon.Brotherly Love. The Bryan Times. November 10, 1979, p. 24.
  10. Canby, Vincent.The Big Red One,' 5 G.I.'s in World War II; Three Years of War. The New York Times. July 18, 1980, p. C6.
  11. Loohaulis, Jackie. "Wavelength" Delightful. The Milwaukee Journal. September 30, 1983, p. 36.
  12. Newsmakers. Ottawa Citizen. July 30, 1984, p. 44.
  13. "2018 Comic Con".
  14. Clark, Kenneth. Hemingway's Classic "Sun" Rises Again as Mini-series. The Montreal Gazette. December 7, 1984, p. 16.
  15. Reading Eagle. May 1, 1987, p. 40.
  16. Holson, Laura. "Lizzie McGuire" Has Become a Hot Disney Brand. New York Times. December 2, 2002.
  17. "Lizzie "McGuire" Box Set Volume 1 DVD Review". Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  18. "'Revenge of the Nerds' Star Robert Carradine -- Badly Hurt in Gruesome Car Crash".
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