Pat Morita, best know for his portrayal of Daniel LaRusso’s sensei Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid film franchise, passed away in 2005. Following his death, his co-star Ralph Macchio released a statement remembering the late actor, as reported by E! News.
In the statement, the actor remarked upon Morita’s acting abilities.
“Pat Morita was a truly generous actor, a gifted comic, and an even greater friend. It was both my honor and privilege to have worked with him and create a bit of cinema magic together. My life is all the richer for having known him. I will miss his genuine friendship. Forever my Sensei,” stated Macchio.
Macchio Spoke at Morita’s Memorial Service
The actor also gave the eulogy at Morita’s memorial service that was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. He spoke about the experience in a 2012 interview on the Covino & Rich Show.
Macchio explained that “a year before [Morita] passed away [he] presented him this Asian Excellence Lifetime Achievement award at Lincoln Center.” He revealed he had given a speech and was able “to say anything [he] would want to say” to his late co-star. The actor also noted that they had received a warm welcome from the audience when they appeared on stage together.
Macchio then went on to say that he was surprised when Morita’s family asked him to speak at his memorial service.
“Then all of the sudden when he passed away, I get the ‘will do you the eulogy,’” the father-of-two recalled.
Macchio revealed he was hesitant to do so and suggested that he believed the task would be more appropriate for Morita’s brother.
“I was like, ‘woah, doesn’t he had a brother?'” recalled the actor.
However, Macchio ended up agreeing to give the eulogy at “two separate memorials” because Morita had been married three times and divorced twice.
While he had initially been taken aback by the request to eulogize Morita, Macchio clarified he did not regret doing so.
“It just felt right to be there, you know,” said the actor.
Macchio & His ‘Cobra Kai’ Co-Star William Zabka Reunited at the Memorial Service
In a December 2020 interview with Esquire, Macchio and his Cobra Kai co-star William Zabka, who plays Johnny Lawrence, revealed that they reunited at Morita’s memorial service.
“After the film, we were young, we went our different ways. We bumped into each other at a screening here and there. But I remember it being Pat’s funeral where we reconnected,” explained Zabka.
Both actors talked about their relationship with Morita while filming The Karate Kid during a January interview on The View. Macchio first applauded this late co-star for his comedy chops and his ability to perform dramatic scenes.
“He would just snap right into the Miyagisms and yet he had a stand-up comedian background so he knew where all the humor and all the beats were,” said the 59-year-old.
Zabka then disclosed that he considered Morita to be his mentor during the film’s production.
“[The] Karate Kid was my first film, and when I walked onto the set, we were doing rehearsals. There’s Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio from The Outsiders, and Pat really took me under his wing. And in a way was kind of my Miyagi, as far as you know helping me feel at place and at home,” said Zabka.