Ralph Macchio is known for showcasing his character Daniel LaRusso’s martial arts skills in “The Karate Kid” movies and the Netflix series “Cobra Kai.” But in 2011, the actor was cast in a different project that was also physically demanding: “Dancing With the Stars.”
According to ABC News, Macchio’s competition for the show’s 12th season included “Cheers” star Kirstie Alley, WWE champ Chris Jericho, “Girls Next Door” star Kendra Wilkinson, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, Disney actress Chelsea Kane, model Petra Nemcova, recording artist Romeo, radio host ‘Psycho’ Mike Catherwood, NFL star Hines Ward and talk show host Wendy Williams. Macchio was partnered with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.
Here’s a look at their three top performances:
Their First Dance: The Foxtrot
For their first performance, Macchio and Smirnoff paid homage to the actor’s martial arts movies without wearing karate gis and black belts. Instead, they danced the foxtrot to the Dean Martin song “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” The choice was likely a tongue-in-cheek reference to the crane kick that Daniel LaRusso uses to defeat Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in the All Valley Karate Tournament in the first “Karate Kid” film.
Macchio and Smirnoff kept their ballroom set simple, with one of the few additions being a large movie marquee. Macchio dressed up in a sharp suit, while Smirnoff wore an elegant pink gown, dazzling jewels, and opera gloves. Macchio performed one high kick during the dance, which received 24 out of a possible 30 points. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, it was the highest score of the night. “This was really special to be able to put out that performance and I was very confident in the choreography,” Macchio said of the dance, according to ABC7.
Their Week 4 Waltz
Macchio and Smirnoff slowed things down and brought a timeless tale of star-crossed lovers to life when they performed a waltz to the theme song from “Romeo and Juliet.” Smirnoff later called the performance “one of the most memorable moments” she had on “Dancing with the Stars.” According to a Business Wire press release, it even inspired a boot in her footwear line.
The dance received rave reviews from the judges. “Brilliant storytelling through dancing,” said Bruno Tonioli. Carrie Ann Inaba commended Macchio for having “an honest connection to the emotions” of the character he was portraying, while Len Goodman said that he and Smirnoff were back on top after being “in the wilderness” for two weeks. They received a score of 25 out of 30 points.
Their Week 7 Quickstep
For week 7, Macchio and Smirnoff took a trip back in time to the end of the prohibition era. The “Dancing with the Stars” ballroom was transformed into a speakeasy, complete with a bar and live orchestra. Smirnoff rocked a green flapper dress, while Macchio wore a black suit and fedora. Their characters celebrated the news that alcohol was legal once again by dancing the quickstep to up-tempo jazz music. The performance ended on a dramatic note when they dove behind the bar together.
Guest judge Donnie Burns rewarded their efforts with a 10 and complimented Macchio on his execution of the fast-paced choreography. “Your footwork and the way you articulated your feet in this quickstep was fabulous this week,” he said, per the Ledger-Enquirer. Burns’ high score helped Macchio tie with future “DWTS” champ Hines Ward for a spot at the top of the leaderboard.