Ralph Macchio, daughter Julia (L), and wife Phyllis attend the 2018 screening of "Cobra Kai".
Ralph Macchio made his big break in 1984 as Daniel LaRusso on The Karate Kid, a role which he continued in two sequels, as well as in Netflix’s ongoing Emmy-nominated TV series, Cobra Kai. The 60-year-old New York native has become a highly recognizable face of the iconic film series, but what has he been up to behind the scenes since the very first film in 1984, and who is his family? Since first starring as Daniel LaRusso at the age of 22, Macchio has since gotten married and raised a family of his own.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Ralph Macchio First Met His Wife When He Was Fifteen
Earlier this year, Macchio shared with Ryan Seacrest that he met the woman who he would later marry, Phyllis Fierro, in his grandmother’s basement when he was 15-years-old.
He explains in the podcast:
It was my other cousin’s sweet sixteen birthday party and so my wife Phyllis came with a different cousin as a guest and there we were 15, 16 years old. And these were Sweet 16s that were, you know, 7-Up, cheese doodles and tootsie rolls. Not like red carpets and limos.
He went on to explain that he would have a “handful” of relationships between then and the time they got married, about ten years later. According to People, Ralph and Phyllis, who is now a nurse practitioner, went on to marry in 1987, a year after The Karate Kid Part II came out, and two years before The Karate Kid Part III was released. Phyllis said of Ralph in 2009, “The first time I saw these big, dark brown eyes, I felt a natural bond.”
Macchio was 25 at the time, and in 2012, in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, they renewed their vows. Ralph and Phyllis are still married to this day.
2. Macchio And His Wife Have Two Children Who Are Actors Themselves
Ralph Macchio and Phyllis Fierro went on to have two children after marrying in 1987: daughter Julia in 1992, and son Daniel, in 1996. They have both been noted for their resemblance to their famous father, and both have done some acting themselves. In 2012, Julia appeared in Girl Most Likely, then went onto play Caitlin in Stella’s Last Weekend, and Tanner in Wholly Broken, both in 2018.
Acting is not the only performing arts job Julia has taken up, however. In 2014, according to Best Life, she graduated from Hofstra University’s dance program, then went on to star in the lead role of Alex Owens in Flashdance: The Musicalthe following year. In a recent Instagram post, Julia posted a picture of herself warming up for dance in front of a mirror, with a caption reading: “Theater is back, baby. Keep washin those jazz hands. Let’s spread love through art. It’s essential.”
Both are also active on Instagram, where they frequently post pictures of themselves and their family.
3. Macchio’s Son Was Not Just Named After His Karate Kid Character
GettyRalph Macchio and his son Daniel at the 2010 premiere of “The Karate Kid”.
It might stand to reason that Ralph Macchio’s son Daniel was named after his father’s iconic character, Daniel LaRusso; however, that is only partly true. The name actually came from both sides of the family. According to Ralph, their son was also named after a close family member of his wife’s growing up: “My wife’s cousin Daniel was her best friend growing up,” he said in an interview with People magazine. “And yeah, for me the name Daniel will always mean something special.”
In an interview with the Guardian in 2020, Macchio revealed that his son had concerns about his fictional namesake. As Macchio put it: “There was a chunk of time when my son was like: ‘Did you have to?’ But now he’s proud of it. Unlike Ralph, Daniel is a classic, it never goes out of style, you know?”
4. Macchio’s Children Are Both Proud Of Their Father’s Work
GettyRalph Macchio with his daughter Julia at the 2013 screening of “Girl Most Likely”.
Although Macchio’s children may not be following in their father’s footsteps as the leads of karate-themed action television, they are both certainly fans of it. In December 2020, Daniel posted a teaser for the then-upcoming season 3 on his Instagram account, with a caption reading: “Be ready! This season will show no mercy! Not everything is as seem! If you’re not caught up yet, start watching!”
In an interview on The Kelly Clarkson Showearlier this year, Macchio explained that his new role in Cobra Kaihas been enjoyable for the whole family, including both his children, to watch:
That is one of my favorite surprises of this show is how much my kids embrace it, and their friends embrace it, and just, that something that’s such a big part of my life from the past is now such a massive part of my life and my family and my kids. You know, usually your kids, you’re trying to find stuff that they like that you could connect with. And in this case, they literally championed this show out there and take such pride in it, it is really as sweet as it gets for me, to watch them view that.
Macchio expressed similar sentiments in a January 2021 interview with People, shortly before the third season of Cobra Kai launched. “Part of the beauty of the success of Cobra Kai is how much my kids are enjoying it,” he said. “To bring something that was such a big part of my life 35 years ago, and see it be such a present part of their lives today, it’s really wonderful.”
It might stand to reason given that Ralph and Phyllis’ 30-year marriage is still standing strong, but the entire Macchio family have all publicly acknowledged how close they all are with one another.
In a 2016 interview with Hofstra, Julia expressed how much her father meant to her as a role model. She said:
I’m inspired by how he carries himself as a human being: always professional, always kind, always well spoken, always putting family first. He is a father first. He has kept me grounded and has always encouraged me to get an education while supporting me to pursue my dreams. I knew growing up that I wanted to carry myself as well as he always has.
Furthermore, given the field of performing arts she has chosen to enter, Julia made it clear that while her father has always given her good advice, it is the work ethic he passed on to her for which she is grateful. “He has supported the fact that I want to work for everything that I earn,” she said. “I’ve never wanted anything handed to me. He is truly one of a kind.”
Although Daniel’s aforementioned enthusiasm for Cobra Kai may be a testament to the fact that he is among the millions of his dad’s fans, he and his sister have also shown publicly how close they are with one another. In an Instagram post celebrating Julia’s 29th birthday, Daniel posted a photo of the two of them on a bridge together, with a caption reading “Happy Birthday Jule! I’m so lucky to have you as a sister and to be your brother! ❤️ I love you and can’t wait to celebrate the day with you! ❤️🎉”
In his interview with People earlier this year, Macchio also revealed the importance of his family in maintaining balance between his professional and personal life. “Without [Phyllis] and without the foundation and the family we established, ‘one foot in, one foot out [of Hollywood]’ would have been very, very difficult on my own,” he said. “Because there would not be balance.”
He went on to say that, “Everything I do now, more often than 10, 15 years ago, I’m thinking of it for the sake of my children as they’re getting older. They’re adults, but they’re always your kids.”
The beauty of the Macchio family’s love for one another might be most perfectly expressed in an Instagram post on Julia’s account in April of this year, in which the family is shown enjoying a sunrise on the beach. As Julia explains in her description of their day:
It’s the small moments. One day back in September we decided that as a family we were going to wake up at the crack of dawn (literally) and watch the sunrise … it was worth every second. We all threw on some sweats, I grabbed my Canon, took one huge sip of coffee and waited in the dark for the sun to greet us. I think it might be my favorite family memory. I think the small moments are the big moments. If that makes any sort of sense? Here’s to creating them and cherishing them as much as we can. Oh, and watch the sunrise from time to time. I promise you won’t regret it :)