Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Ex-Wife of ‘Kung Fu’ Star Entitled to 50 Percent of Show, Book Royalty Payments, Court of Appeal Rules
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Actor David Carradine owes 50 percent of his royalty and residual payments for two 1990s projects to his ex-wife, the Court of Appeal for this district has ruled.
Div. Seven Monday rejected Carradine’s claim that he is not required to pay anything to actress-producer-songwriter Gail Jensen, the third of his four wives, until he resolves his tax problems.
The 66-year-old actor, whose real name is John Arthur Carradine, is best known for his portrayal of the half-Chinese, half-American Shaolin priest and martial arts master Kwai Chang Caine in the 1970s television series Kung Fu. He and Jensen were married in 1988 and divorced in 1998, with property issues being reserved.
In May 1999, the court ordered that royalties and residuals for Carradine’s television series Kung Fu, the Legend Continues—he co-produced the show and reprised the role of Caine—and his book, Spirit of Shaolin, be divided equally between him and Jensen.
The judge recognized that those payments were subject to tax levies, but directed that “[i]n the event such levies stop,” Carradine would have to “forthwith distribute to [Jensen] one-half…of any monies received.”
Two years later, Jensen sued for arrearages, claiming that her ex-husband had received “substantial” amounts from the projects, despite the levies, but had not paid her. Carradine responded that because the levies were still in effect, although apparently not being enforced, he was not liable for the payments.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lee Smalley Edmon ruled for Jensen. The judgment would be “meaningless,” she said, if Carradine were not required to pay Jensen her half of the royalties and residuals as he received them.
The judge also ordered him to furnish an accounting.
Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss, in an unpublished opinion for the Court of Appeal, said the trial judge was correct and called the actor’s interpretation of the 1999 order “an absurdity.”
He rejected the contention that Edmon had altered that order, saying she had merely applied it according to its intent. “ To hold otherwise would be to permit husband to retain all monies actually paid to him, which is contrary to the recitation that the parties hold equal interests in the royalties and/or residuals,” Perluss wrote.
Carradine was represented on appeal by Los Angeles attorney Vicki Roberts. Jensen did not file a brief in the Court of Appeal.
The case is Marriage of Carradine, B156919.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company