Question: What was the name of the blind kung-fu master who called Caine "Grasshopper"?
Televisionary: You seek knowledge, questioner without a name? Snatch the pebble from my hand.
The name which eludes as the hare outruns the fox is that of Keye Luke, who portrayed blind Master Po in the ABC series Kung Fu.
Say, wouldn't it be really annoying if I wrote the entire answer in faux-enlightened philosophy-speak? Fear not I'd never do such a thing to my loyal readers.
Anyway, Keye Luke portrayed the teacher of young Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) in the show, which, based upon an earlier TV movie, ran from the fall of 1972 to the summer of 1975. Up until that point, the actor was best known for his work in a slew of big-picture efforts, particularly as Number One Son Lee Chan in a series of Charlie Chan flicks. Master Po and colleague Master Kan (Philip Ahn) showed up in flashbacks, instructing young orphan Caine (played as a boy by Radames Pera) in self-defense and philosophy.
It's worth noting that before this show's debut and the subsequent cultural storm generated by the films of Bruce Lee (who was considered early on for the Caine role, though producers insisted they had Carradine in mind all along), most Americans had never heard of the term kung fu. In fact, in TV Guide's October, 1972 Close-Up highlighting the first episode, the headline is "Kung What??" Nowadays, of course, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone unfamiliar with it. (Certainly, it seemed cool to a young Televisionary, who missed the importance-of-peace thing utterly and muttered phrases like "I seek water" while aiming kicks at friends' heads.)
Kung Fu represented an interesting and forward-thinking concept. A half-American orphan, raised in a Shaolin temple and taught the physical and mental disciplines of kung fu, kills a member of the Chinese royal family in self-defense. He journeys to the 1870s American west with a price on his head and searches for his brother, offering up philosophcal asides and whomping hostiles all the while. Historically, it holds its own in the hero-on-the-run genre (The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk) despite the lame syndicated update Kung Fu The Legend Continues, which sullied the series's legacy in the early '90s.
Of added interest is the long list of guest-stars who wandered the show's credits, including Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, Barbara Hershey, Robert Urich, Gary Busey, Tina Louise and William Shatner.
If you seek re-runs, by the way, get up bright and early Saturday morning (6 am/ET) and check out TNT.