Actor Rob Garrison, best known for playing the role of Tommy in The Karate Kid, The Karate Kid Part II, and reprised his role in YouTube Red’s Cobra Kai, passed away on Friday, September 27. He was 59.
The news was confirmed to TMZ by Garrison’s sister-in-law, Linda Garrison, who’s married to his brother, Patrick Garrison. The film and TV star, who appeared on the small screen in popular shows such as St. Elsewhere, MacGyver, Tour of Duty, Columbo, and Coach, had been sick for a long time. Garrison, who lived in Wheeling, West Virginia, was in the hospital for over a month dealing with kidney and liver issues. He was later transferred to a speciality hospital in Pennsylvania, and died after his organs shut down.
Jon Hurwitz, writer, director and producer of Cobra Kai, tweeted out his condolences with a lengthy heartfelt thread. He said,” Our entire Karate Kid/Cobra Kai family is devastated by the news of OG Cobra Rob Garrison’s passing. He was a truly gifted performer and an even better man. My heart goes out to Rob’s family during this difficult time. #RIP”
Hurwitz continued, “I’ll never forget how moved the entire cast and crew was by Rob’s brilliant and heartfelt performance by the campfire. I’ll also never forget the laughs we shared later that night over beers as the gang told stories, including some gems Rob had from the set of Iron Eagle.”
“I’m heartened to know how much Rob enjoyed and cherished his time working on Cobra Kai. We were looking forward to seeing his smiling face again this season, as we had plans for Tommy to ride again. But he’ll remain in our thoughts every day as we strive to make him proud. #RIP.”
Famous for being the Cobra Kai member that shouts, “Get him a body bag!” – Garrison did not shy away the film series’ cult-like fandom, and regularly appeared at forums with his former cast members, William Zabaka, Martin Kove, and Ron Thomas. Like film’s leading star Ralph Macchio, Garrison reprised his role in Cobra Kai, the YouTube series which takes place thirty years after the final confrontation of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso at the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament.
Pat Morita, the Japanese-American actor who famously played Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid film series, passed away on November 24, 2005. He was 73-years-old. According to his wife Evelyn, Morita struggled with alcoholism which caused his health to deteriorate as her got older in age. After being hospitalized in October 2005 for a severe bladder and urinary tract infection, he died of kidney failure a month later.
Director of The Karate Kid, John G. Avildsen, and won an Oscar for directing Sylvester Stallone in 1987’s Rocky film, passed away on June 16, 2017. He was 81 years old. Macchio said of Avildsen, who also directed The Karate Kid Part II and The Karate Kid Part III, “His guidance in the creation of Daniel LaRusso and direction in The Karate Kid became an influence that changed my life. There are countless examples where his guiding hand created much of the magic we were able to achieve on screen. My thoughts are with his family and close friends. He will be missed.”
Garrison’s Life Outside ‘The Karate Kid’ Fandom
In addition to his TV career, Garrison appeared in numerous films through the 80s including Iron Eagle with Louis Gossett Jr., Best Revenge with the late John Heard, and was cast the “Pretty Boy” in the Oscar nominated movie, Brubaker, starring Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman.
Aside from working on screen, Garrison worked as writer on the TV series, The Littlest Hobo, and loved to perform in local theater productions. In 2015, he played “Scrooge” in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Strand Theatre in West Virginia.