Robert was born in Hollywood, California in 1954, the son of actress and artist Sonia Sorel 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.
His 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 (1972). In 1979, he was alongside Melissa Sue Anderson in Survival of Dana. In 1984, Carradine played Robert Cohn in the television mini-series version of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.
He made his film debut in 1972 in The Cowboys with John Wayne. 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). He played Jim Cantrell in Paul Bartel's Cannonball (1976). 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.
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.
Robert'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, he spent time at The University of Arizona, where the movie was filmed, participating in rush week. "No fraternity picked him, convincing him that he was indeed right for the part of the nerd that nobody wanted to claim as their own.
In addition to all of this, Robert plays the guitar professionally and continues to drive race cars in his spare time. The Reel Cowbows are pleased to give Robert Carradine the famous Silver Spur award at the 2018 Silver Spur Award show.