Danny Kamekona, who played the part of Mr. Miyagi‘s rival, Sato, in Karate Kid Part II, will sadly not appear in the Cobra Kai reboot airing on Netflix, however, his memory and characters related to Sato will play a major part in Season 3, which premieres on January 1, 2021. Kamekona, who was one of Hawaii’s top actors, died at age 60 on May 2, 1996.
The bad guy in 1986’s Karate Kid sequel suffered a tragic and mysterious death. He was found dead in his apartment in Los Angeles, California, according to his obituary. His friends and family noted that he had been dead for several days when his body was found in the bathroom.
Kamekona’s wife, Michiko, whom he met while on a three-year Mormon mission in Osaka after graduating from Brigham Young University, was in Japan visiting with her siblings when her husband died. They had two children together, a son, Leigh Scott, and a daughter, Vera Lei.
The actor’s sister, Noelani Kamekona, said that despite undergoing a previous heart valve replacement, her brother was in good health prior to his sudden death.
“His doctor told him to cool it,” Noelani Kamekona said, but that he remained “active and sociable, involved with his job and all the accouterments that come with it.” At the time, Kamekona, who was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on November 15, 1935, was traveling back and forth from his apartment in Los Angeles to his home in Waialae, said Tommy Igarashi, one of Kamekona’s closest friends.
Igarashi said the week before his death that he was shooting commercials and doing press interviews for an upcoming film. “Danny had a special personality,” Igarashi said. “He never thought because he was a movie actor that he was big time and snubbed anybody. He still had that Hawaain aloha fun.”
Kamekona Appeared in Numerous Popular TV Shows & Films Throughout His Acting Career
While he may be best known as the bad guy in Karate Kid, Kamekona enjoyed a successful career in Hollywood, appearing in numerous big movies and popular TV shows. Prior to playing Sato, he starred on multiple TV series including, Magnum P.I., Hawaii Five-O, Barnaby Jones, Sanford and Son, and The Rockford Files.
As for his film career, Kamekona appeared in Black Widow alongside Debra Winger, starred as Mr. Hirohito in 1990’s Problem Child, and reunited with Pat Morita, who starred as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films in, Honeymoon in Vegas, which also featured Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicholas Cage, and James Caan.
Kamekona’s final credit before his death, according to IMDB, was playing the series regular role of Henry on Burke’s Law, which aired from 1994 to 1995.
‘Karate Kid Part II’ Stars Tamlyn Tomita & Yuji Okumoto Will Reprise Their Roles in ‘Cobra Kai’
While original Karate Kid stars Kamekona, Morita, and John Avildsen, have since died, Cobra Kai Season 3 is bringing back Tamlyn Tomita, who played Yukie’s niece and Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) love interest in Part II, and Yuji Okumoto, who played Sato’s nephew.
“I think it’ll answer a lot of questions, and fans will be happy as to where [the characters] find themselves and the kind of discussions they have,” Tomita told The Rafu Shimpo. “I think it’ll answer a lot of questions, and fans will be happy as to where [the characters]find themselves and the kind of discussions they have. I think fans will be pleased.” I think fans will be pleased.”
While Tomita was initially hesitant to revisit the world of Karate Kid, “Because of the passing of John Avildsen and Pat Morita, because of the passing of Danny Kamekona and Nobu McCarthy,” she said, “they knew they had even more of an investment to make on behalf of those people who passed because their voices aren’t here anymore. [Producer] Jerry Weintraub is not around anymore. I trust Ralph Macchio and William Zabka and the three writers.”
Brian Wright, vice president of original series for Netflix, said, “The appeal of the Karate Kid saga is timeless, and Cobra Kai picks up right where it left off without missing a beat.”