Since 2018, numerous actors from the Karate Kid film franchise have reprised their roles in Cobra Kai. Unfortunately, there are a few performers who passed away before being able to appear on the acclaimed series. Here the Karate Kid stars who have died since the original 1984 film and its subsequent sequels premiered.
Noriyuki “Pat” Morita became a pop culture icon with his portrayal of Daniel LaRusso’s sensei Mr. Miyagi. Before starring in The Karate Kid films, the Japanese-American actor had a career as a comedian and appeared in several popular sitcoms, such as Happy Days and Sanford and Son. People magazine reported that the actor died in 2005 as a result of “complications from alcoholism.” He was 73 years old at the time of his death.
While speaking to the publication, Morita’s third wife actress Evelyn Guerrero discussed her late husband’s substance abuse issues. She revealed he underwent treatment at a rehabilitation center in 2004. Unfortunately, “he relapsed big time.”
Following his death, co-star Ralph Macchio released a statement, as reported by E! News.
“My life is all the richer for having known him. I will miss his genuine friendship,” wrote the actor.
In the 1986 film The Karate Kid Part II, Danny Kamekona portrayed one of the film’s antagonists, businessman Sato. In his obituary, it was reported that the Hawaiian actor died in 1996 while living in Los Angeles. The 60-year-old “had been dead several days in his bathroom” before being discovered, as his wife, Michiko, had been visiting relatives in Japan.
Nobu McCarthy, who played Mr. Miyagi’s love interest Yukie in the second installment of the film franchise, died in 2002. The Japanese-Canadian actress suffered an aortic aneurysm which resulted in her death at the age of 67, as reported by Backstage.
The publication noted that McCarthy started her career as an actress in the 1950s. She had roles in numerous movies, including The Geisha Boy, Wake Me When It’s Over, and Farewell to Manzanar. From 1989 to 1993, she also was the artistic director for East West Players, a theater company located in Los Angeles, California.
According to TMZ, Robert Garrison, who played Cobra Kai team member Tommy, died in September 2019. The publication noted before his death he had been hospitalized “for over a month dealing with kidney and liver issues.”
Garrison did reprise his role during the second season of Cobra Kai. In the episode, “Take a Right,” Tommy, who has a terminal illness, spends the day with his friends and former teammates, Johnny (William Zabka), Bobby (Ron Thomas), and Jimmy (Tony O’Dell). After a night of camping in Big Bear, Tommy passes away.
Soon after his death, co-star and friend William Zabka shared a poignant post commemorating Garrison on Instagram, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. He commented on their decades-long friendship and Garrison’s acting abilities.
“Working with him was always natural and effortless. He elevated every scene and moment inside of them. Outside of acting, he was one of the most selfless and wonderful human beings I’ve ever known and I will miss him immensely.
Thank you to all of his fans for the tremendous outpouring of love & respect he’s being shown. I know it means a lot to his family and friends,” read a portion of the post.