UPDATED: 21st July 2000
Zabka bio updated

This is where you can learn about the talented actors who breathed life into the characters of The Karate Kid. Learn their real life stories, what they have been doing since The Karate Kid and even what they felt about the movie and the effect it had on their career.


The Cast of The Karate Kid


Fact File: Ralph George Macchio Born November 4, 1961, Huntington (long Island), New York Married To Phyllis Fuerro Children: Julia and Daniel. Father: Ralph Mother: Rosalie

Our hero, Daniel is played by Ralph Macchio (pronounced MATCH-io or mah-KEY-yo depending on the source of the interview). Ralph, was born and is still a resident of Long Island, N.Y.

  "Back when I was a little kid, like three or something, I used to watch old movies of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and it really affected me. It was awesome and I wanted to dance! So my mom enrolled me in a dance class, and that was just great. I was the only boy there! I'd do a little tap dance and people would clap. There's a rush you get when you make people happy for three minutes."
-Ralph Macchio

Ralph began performing in local musical productions as a teenager, and at 16, he was signed by a talent agent called Marie Pastor who had seen him in a dance recital and soon began working in TV commercials.

  "There was something about me she really liked and she thought I could develop into a fine actor so she sat me down with my parents and we talked about it. My parents were concerned about it all at first, but as they got to know Marie, they soon realised there was nothing to worry about, it was all above board. We began kind of cautiously, you know, with acting lessons and auditions. But pretty soon I got my first couple of jobs and we've never looked back."
-Ralph Macchio

His first acting part may not have seemed particularly auspicious - It was in an advert for 'Bubble Yum'! - but he quickly moved on from the ads into T.V.,and then, before he had even graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School West in 1979 he had made his debut in the adolescent comedy Up the Academy (released in 1980). He did not appear in another feature film until working in Francis Ford Coppola's epic of teenage rivalry The Outsiders (1983), but in the meantime he was promptly cast in two TV "Movies of the Week", Journey to Survival and Dangerous Company. Macchio also played on the TV comedy/drama Eight Is Enough as 'Jeremy Andretti' from 1980 to 1981. He was listed as one of twelve "Promising New Actors of 1984" in John Willis' Screen World, Vol. 36. What he then did was the first Karate Kid, in late 1983/early 1984 when he was aged 22. Even that shoot, while under way, seemed unpromising, as Macchio recalls:

  "The other lead [Mr. Miyagi] was written with Toshiro Mifune in mind, so when they cast Pat Morita, I thought, 'OK, I'm this Luke Skywalker type and he's Yoda and this is all very hokey with a corny ending sure to fall flat.' But as we were shooting, some of the scenes started to feel right. Even so, I didn't know what we had - this small, little movie that in the end got to the heart of everybody who saw it, ages 6 to 60.

It turns out we'd created this nice little story with characters everyone would relate to. It had a positive message, it was honest and true. As much as it was formulated - it still had a heart to it and touched upon real things that teenagers go through."
-Ralph Macchio

Which led to one of the other most important moments in his life....

  "I'll never forget the first time I saw 'Karate Kid' in a movie theater with a real audience. I stood in the back and watched them laugh and applaud and kept thinking, `That's me. They're cheering me. This is a movie everybody loves, and I'm in every scene in it."
-Ralph Macchio

He was completely knocked out by the success of the first Karate Kid movie which is still his favourite of the series:

  "That one was just magical! Pat Morita and everyone, we all brought so much to it, we never thought it would be such a blockbuster. We did it in only 42 days and it didn't have this big enormous budget. It will always have a special place in my heart."
-Ralph Macchio

  -Ralph's Training Regime
For his part in the Karate Kid films he had to do a special three month exercise regime to get him as fit as a karate student would be, and he also had to go on a special diet of 6000 calories a day to resculpt his body.

The physical aspects of his character weren't easy for him to handle at first. Pat Johnson, his trainer in the films, recalls - "When Ralph first started doing these movies in I984 he was extremely apprehensive. He was just an actor playing the part of a martial artist. Now he is a martial artist! This means that Daniel, the character he plays, is much more mature and far more knowledgeable in karate."

Interestingly, whilst he was not entirely happy about the second Karate Kid film, he was pleased with its successor - "I really like it a lot. I like it a lot better than 'Karate Kid II' which got away from the characters and spent too much time on the fighting. This one is more along the lines of the original, it's about the people."

However, he was not always so happy about it - "At first, I wasn't looking forward to it, I basically was signed to three pictures from the start, so I had to. But now that it's over, I'm really glad I did it. It's nice, I feel like I've watched this kid, Daniel, grow up. After this he can no longer be a kid again."

On the subject of karate Ralph openly admits "I was really only good enough at karate to make it look good," he says. "But I grew up doing dance recitals and musicals, and Gene Kelly was who I wanted to be my whole childhood. Certainly the dance training came in handy in preparing him for the intensive workouts that he undertook for nearly 3 months to prepare for the role. Soccer, another interest, also proved useful when the script called for his character to do some fancy footwork for the soccer trials scene.

Recently, In a telephone interview, Macchio told a reporter that he doesn't argue with those who say he's been typecast by his Karate Kid character:-

  "I don't argue that that's not true. It's certainly one of those things that's a good problem to have -- that's the optimistic way to look at it. There were times years ago where I was frustrated by it. But The Karate Kid films -- certainly the first one, which was by far my favorite of the three I did -- were just wonderful movies. Who would have known that they would have turned out to be so universally known? Being tied in to a character like that makes it tough to change people's minds -- certainly in the Hollywood world."


"How could one argue about being tied in with a character and a movie that was so positive, such good, clean entertainment? There's not too much of that these days...."

-Ralph Macchio

Ralph is basically a very shy person and is a bit reserved with people until he gets to know them better. He says that he doesn't like doing interviews as he hates talking about himself.

Ralph & Phyllis Macchio

And the future? He says he would love to become a successful writer. But will there ever be a Karate Kid IV? Ralph said at the time of the release Karate Kid III:- "if I were to do it, I'd ask for more creative control. There would have to be a different concept."

Macchio still keeps busy. He recently finished travelling in the Broadway production of "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying." He has a wife of eight years -- Phyllis Fierro, whom he met at a cousin's birthday party -- and a daughter Julia, 4 and a very young son, surely named after the character that made him -- Daniel ...


Fact File: Elisabeth J. Shue Born October 06, 1963, Wilmington, Delaware Married To Davis Guggenheim Children: Miles William Guggenheim (11-12-97)

Daniel's Girlfriend 'Ali' is brought to life by Elizabeth Shue. Elizabeth is the daughter of a wealthy, Mayflower family, rather like her character in the movie. Elizabeth may not have been inspired by the role in retrospect, but she certainly does some solid acting. Particularly well acted scenes are the more emotional ones like Daniel's beach beating. Also her privileged background provided an excellent base for the upmarket persona of 'Ali'.

Elizabeth was born in Wilmington, Delaware and raised in South Orange, New Jersey and is the sister to Melrose Place star Andrew Shue.

An athlete of some prowess, notably in soccer and gymnastics, she nevertheless felt unable to complete with her three brothers and after a friend suggested that her gymnastic abilities might be good for commercials, Elisabeth agreed—and from her initial stint for a Florida theme park, her perky screen presence and good looks quickly resulted in work with a number of national advertisers
, including Hellman's Mayonnaise and Burger King.

In performing, Elizabeth quickly found that she had found
a great way for her to express herself as an individual. Graduating to 'proper' acting, which she sandwiched in between academic studies at Wellesley and Harvard, Elisabeth landed a role in the TV series Call to Glory, set in the early '60s. Later, after she had auditioned for the female part in an aborted early production of The Hot Spot, she was picked to star opposite Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid. She had recently turned 20. Since then she has gone on to play a number of 'good girl next door' roles before finally breaking out of that mould with the critically acclaimed Leaving las Vegas with Nicholas Cage.


Fact File: Noriyuki "Pat" Morita Born June 28, 1932, Isleton, California Passed Away November 24, 2005

Starring as the wise teacher Mr. Miyagi, is Noriyuki (or "Pat") Morita. an Academy Award nomination followed for Best Supporting Actor for the career-making role of Daniel's Okinawan Karate teacher. The Japanese-American actor, who lived in an American internment camp for Japanese during World War II and at 29 gave up a promising management career programming computers for Aerojet General, a major Californian defense contractor, to become a standup comic.

  "I like Miyagi. I think he's going to continue for a long, long time."

-Pat Morita (With a wry smile)


After stints in nightclubs and on TV variety shows, he acted in films such as Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and Midway (1976). His TV roles include Arnold (1975–76, 1982–83) in the series Happy Days, M*A*S*H, and he was the star of the detective series Ohara (1987–88). Recent films include Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994).

The following is from an article that appeared in Issue #6, Spring 1996 of Furyu: The Budo Journal called Noriyuki Pat Morita: In the Footsteps of a Sensei by Charles C. Goodin


Everyone has their favorite Pat Morita role: Arnold, from Happy Days; the indecisive Japanese officer in Midway (who advised that the planes be armed with bombs. . .No, make that torpedoes). . .Ohara; Mr. T from Mister T and Tina-America's first television series starring an Asian-American; the taxi driver in Honeymoon in Vegas; the countless zany characters in two decades of Hawaii television commercials. . . However, in the hearts and minds of millions of movie fans around the world Pat Morita is "Miyagi sensei." The Karate Kid, followed by the even more commercially successful Karate Kid II, propelled him into international stardom. As a result, he was nominated for an Oscar as the Best Supporting Actor in 1985. And, amidst innumerable other accolades, was last year honored with a Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. While Noriyuki "Pat" Morita is undoubtedly the most recognized "sensei" in the world, he is the first to honestly admit that, except for some training for the Karate Kid films, he has never formally practiced a martial art (he was briefly exposed to judo as a teenager by his cousins but this mostly consisted of learning how to tumble).

Once, as we were leaving a restaurant in Honolulu a young man across the street yelled out happily at the top of his lungs, "Hey! Mr. Miyagi!" Another time at the Ilikai Hotel an elderly Japanese gentleman came up to us and bowed very respectfully. After exchanging a few pleasantries in Japanese, Pat turned to me and explained that the man was a karate sensei from Japan who was a great admirer of his movies. The same thing happens at the beach, or in hotels, airports, at shopping malls. . . everywhere he goes. Children are especially enchanted. You can tell from the glow on all their faces that they are meeting their hero.

"....there is a lot of Pat Morita in the Miyagi character --more than most people realize. In many ways, Miyagi is an amalgamation of Morita's father and friends from that older generation. When Morita's older brother, Harry, saw the film he said with a tear in his eye, "That's Papa up there."
-Charles Goodin

Morita's parents emigrated from Japan to California just after the turn of this century. He was born on June 28, 1932 as Noriyuki Morita in Isleton, California, and is the youngest of two children. His father was an itinerant fruit worker who followed the harvests and worked in the off-season as a nurseryman and handyman. Life was simple and hard-dirt floors, a single bulb for electricity, a leaky roof. Then, at the tender age of two, the young "Nori" was stricken with spinal tuberculosis and was abruptly taken away from his family. For the next nine years, he was hospitalized at Weimar Joint Sanatorium in Northern California, and for a brief period at the Shriner's Hospital in San Francisco.

Due to the nature of his disease and the therapy of the time, young Noriyuki would spend the subsequent years bedridden in a body-cast from shoulder to knees. Unlike other children, he could not run and play, much less even walk. ". . .So I made puppets out of socks to entertain the nurses and other kids," Morita recalls. "In many ways, who knows. . .? If it weren't for my disease, I might not be where I am today. . . During that time, for a short spell (fortunately), we had a very strict head nurse-Miss Roberts. She was like a Hitler, the kind of nurse that if, during our afternoon nap, somebody giggled or farted, she would come right through the ward with an 18-inch ruler, pull back the covers and give everybody five or ten whacks. I didn't care because I had a body-cast. So all she could do was whack the cast. It made good noise. I think that's when I became an actor: 'Ow, ow, ow!' My first acting job-pain. But I think I had a lousy agent!" During these formative years, Morita was told on a daily basis that he would never be able to walk. Eventually, four vertebra in his spine were fused. And because he was a real fighter, he would prove his doctors wrong b y walking out of the hospital at the age of 11.

In an ironic twist of fate, America had entered World War two years earlier, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Morita's family, like over 110,000 other Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast (Hawaii was not subject to mass internment orders), were interned. Morita walked well enough to be picked up at the hospital by an FBI officer who transported him by car, train and bus to the Gila Internment Camp in Arizona. Morita recalls: "I remember he wore dark glasses and had a mustache and was carrying a gun. Imagine that. I think back to the ludicrosity of it all: an FBI man escorting a recently able-to-walk spinal tubercular 11-year-old to a place behind barbed wire in the middle of nothing!"

"At the age of 53, Morita lands the role of Miyagi sensei in The Karate Kid. And, he has to work hard to earn it. There were five call-backs, five days of rigorous rehearsals, followed by three solid months of 10-hours-a-day hard training."
-Charles Goodin

Going directly from the confines of a hospital bed to the even-greater confinement of an internment camp, Morita was suddenly surrounded by a Japanese-speaking family and other camp internees of Japanese ancestry. He had spoken only English at the hospital, so it was a cultural shock at first. But he made friends and adapted. "I remember doing the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. It was in a barracks. . . (I remember) my English class; and looking out the window and seeing the American flag waving, juxtaposed against a guard tower in the background, I had this sense of 'What's this all about?' Why am I saying 'liberty and justice for all'? I was too young to rationalize this, but I do remember that the hurt of bigotry began early on and was to last for many, many years. Whenever I think about it, it still hurts." During the latter part of the War, the family was relocated to the Tule Lake Internment Camp in California. Recalling those camp days, the young Morita would anxiously look forward to the arrival of newspapers. Most were written in Japanese but some included small sections in English. He recalls a man walking all day throughout the camp yelling "Rocky Shinpo, Rocky Shinpo!" This was a Japanese-language newspaper published in Colorado. Sometimes other newspapers were brought or mailed by visitors and relatives.

Whenever a newspaper arrived, everyone was eager to know about the latest exploits of the Nisei (Japanese American) soldiers in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion. Cheers would resound throughout the camp whenever accounts of their heroism were read and repeated. The soldiers in the 442nd, 100th, MIS (Military Intelligence Service; the US military's translation and interrogation unit) and 1399th were composed primarily of Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the US Mainland, who become renowned for their acts of courage and sacrifice. So many soldiers were killed or wounded in action from the 100th that it became known as the "Purple Heart Battalion." The 442nd, which absorbed the 100th and fought in Europe, became the most highly decorated unit of its size and length of service in the entire history of the US Army. And Gen. Douglas McArthur's staff credits the men of the MIS for shortening the war in the Pacific by at least two years, thereby savings countless thousands of American and Japanese lives.

Morita recalls many emotionally-charged scenes in the camps in which parents sent their sons off to serve for the very country which was imprisoning their families. He especially remembers an old man gripping his only son and saying tearfully, "You just be a good goddamn soldier. Don't embarrass your momma." That young man, along with a great many others, would never return to his family. Morita can still envision that soldier's mother staring hour after hour at a small paper flag bordered in blue with a gold star on it. She was the "Gold Star" mother; someone who had lost a son in the war for the United States.

After the war ended and the internees were released, there were many more hard years. Eventually the family resettled in Sacramento and opened a restaurant. It was called the "Ariake Chop Suey" (after the area in Japan where Morita's father was born). They served Chinese food in apredominately black section of town. Morita and his father worked 14-hour-days in the kitchen and his mother, aunties and cousins served the food. This probably explains why today Morita can still whip up great Chinese food. Later in life, Morita would discover that his father was able to book large parties because he included his son's services as an emcee. The young Morita developed his self-confidence performing before crowds that reached up to 300 people. Shortly after graduating from high-school, he joined an aerospace company on the outskirts of Sacramento, where he worked his way up to becoming the head of the computer operations department.

After a number of years, Morita became discontented. His weight shot up to nearly 200 pounds which, on his 5-foot, 3-inch frame, made him look like, in his words, "a Japanese butterball." He did not have a college degree or specialized training and realized that he had reached the top of his then chosen career path. So, despite having a good job with security, a four-bedroom home and a wife, child, mother-in-law and three household pets depending on him, he decided that he wanted something more out of life. The rest, as they say, is show-business history.

Fast forward 23 years. At the age of 53, Morita lands the role of Miyagi sensei in The Karate Kid. And, he has to work hard to earn it. There were five call-backs, five days of rigorous rehearsals, followed by three solid months of 10-hours-a-day hard training. The executive producer of the project was initially opposed to casting a "comedian" in the dramatic role. Morita convinced him and all the studio heads that he was the definitive Miyagi. The role was physically demanding, to say the least. Morita's childhood back problems made it impossible for him to jump around with co-star Ralph Macchio and the other young, athletic actors. But with his usual "never-say-quit" attitude, coaching by karate champion Pat Johnson, and stunt-double work by the world-renowned Fumio Demura, the action scenes in the film were to become indelibly convincing and memorable.

For this author, I can say that there is a lot of Pat Morita in the Miyagi character-more than most people realize. In many ways, Miyagi is an amalgamation of Morita's father and friends from that older generation. When Morita's older brother, Harry, saw the film he said with a tear in his eye, "That's Papa up there."

The script for the film did not provide the "back story" for the character; that is, the life events which shaped the character of Miyagi and contributed to his inner strength. This essential element was largely supplied by Morita, drawing from his own life experiences and impressions.

One of the most critically acclaimed moments in the film is known as the "drunk scene" (Daniel-san races to Miyagi's house late one night after being bullied at a restaurant.) Morita recalls that the script merely stated that "Daniel finds Miyagi... three sheets into the wind. . .singing. That was it. No dialogue, no reason, no why. . . no nothing! Gimme a break." Morita went to the director, John Avildsen, to ask about the scene. They were already in production and filming around it. "I say, 'John, we got a problem. What's this scene all about? Three sheets into the wind, singing. -What?' God bless him forever for being receptive." Morita suggested the use of a Japanese song he heard as a child in the internment camps. Then he added as a background, "How about every three or four years Miyagi allows himself the luxury of lamenting the son he never had, a son that was to be, a son that he would never see? But, while he was off at war, he learns that mother and child died from complications in childbirth as a result of the deplorable medical conditions present in the internment camp." Morita also suggested that Miyagi was a 442nd vet and had received a Congressional Medal of Honor for valor in battle, which deeply troubled his psyche. "Why had he survived the horrors of battle while his wife and child died?" All the answers to these powerful elements were supplied by Morita, but very few people were ever aware of his contribution to the scene, or of the parallels to his own life and images from his childhood.

"I always found it interesting that the name chosen for the sensei in The Karate Kid was actually the name of a famous figure in the history of Okinawan karate-do: Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953), the founder of Goju-ryu. This Miyagi was also a participant in the 1936 "Meeting of Masters" described in Volume 1, Issue 4, Spring-Summer 1995 of Furyu ("When Masters Meet," by Patrick McCarthy, pages 10-17). Unlike the Miyagi" in The Karate Kid, however, the real Miyagi was a stocky and powerful man. In fact, there is a striking resemblance between Sato sensei (Danny Kamekona), the nemesis in Karate Kid II, and the legendary Miyagi . "
-Charles Goodin

Over the years, Morita formed many lifelong friendships with veterans of the 442nd and 100th. In fact, he has been made an honorary member of the 442nd, "C" Company, and was the emcee for their 50th anniversary celebration in Hawaii just a couple of years ago. The veterans' group recognized that his portrayal of Miyagi as a member of the 442nd was motivated by a deep and abiding personal sense of admiration and pride. He will forever be instilled with that pride. Morita is often asked about his role as a "sensei" and the lessons he would like to teach. He wonders why people ask such questions of "an actor who is still struggling to find his own way in life. I don't think I was put on the earth in our time to perpetuate answers to these depth-of-soul-searching questions. Rather, if at all, maybe I've been put on this earth to merely raise these queries in the hearts of others as a result of my actorial interpretive skills- to simply pose these kinds of questions: not necessarily to answer them. Good luck to each of us who walks, crawls, steps or drags through any given time on this earth. Indeed, God bless us all!" As mentioned earlier, Morita is the first to admit that he is an actor, not a karate sensei. But, my observation is, he truly epitomizes the positive qualities of so many of the budo teachers I've met over the years.

Morita has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles-physical, racial and professional-all with a quiet sense of determination and dignity. What is a sensei? The word "teacher" is an in adequate translation at best, but it is formed by two characters, sen-, which means "before" or "previous," and -sei which means "born" or "life." In other words, a sensei is an elder, in particular, an elder deserving of respect. In that sense, Pat Morita is a sensei in the truest sense of the word and those of us in the budo world are fortunate and grateful for the positive role model he has established for us. But, as he has told this writer many times: "Me. . . I'm so lucky I just got to play the part."


Fact File: William Zabka Born October 20, 1965, Location Unknown UPDATED 21st July 2000

Chief bully of the "Cobra Kai" and Daniel's arch nemesis Johnny Lawrence is convincingly brought to life by William Zabka. Billy's father worked in the movies and TV. As a child he was taken to the sets of his fathers productions.

  "When I was a kid, my dad was working with Clint Eastwood on Any Which Way You Can. I remember meeting him [Clint] on the set by his brown pickup truck. He just looked at me a certain way. I respected him and looked up to him. In my mind he was saying, "You'll be doing this someday." He was probably really thinking, "Who the hell is this kid?!"
-Willam Zabka

Billy Zabka: "When I was fourteen, I was a stand-in for the kid in the Michael Cain movie, The Island. The make-up artists would put prosthetic scars on my face for the fun of it. I remember them setting the lights on me...seeing the cameras...the energy....and watching the kid I was standing in for act. I said to myself, 'I'll be doing that one day."

Not a lot else
is known about his early life apart from his prowess as am athlete and wrestler, (he was a high school wrestling champion) but in the early 80's he had found himself making guest appearances in several TV shows including E/R playing a "druggie kid", The greatest American Hero in 1983 and Love Boat. About the same time he auditioned for and won his first feature part in Karate Kid which involved a great deal of physical work and training, both before and after being finally awarded the part. He turned 18 years old during the rehearsals for Karate Kid.

Knowing no martial arts prior to making the move he was trained by Pat Johnson, who trained all the actors for their roles in the film. Billy's training was a harder style, more befitting the 3 times champion of the "All Valley Tournament".

  Zabka had to work hard to achieve the look of a Karate champion and so he was trained by Pat Johnson, a world ranking authority for "four hours a day, five days a week....sometimes seven days"

Complementing the training was his fine acting in the role and it can safely be said that his portrayal of the blonde, blue-eyed Johnny Lawrence was one of the reasons for the movies success.

Thanks To top KK contributor Jon Hertzberg we can now reveal a few interesting facets of the blond bad guy and brunette hero formula. It seems that according to an article entitled "Blond and Bad; The Advent of the Preppie As Screen Villain" printed in The Washington Post (September 2, 1984), John Avildsen, who directed Karate Kid, deliberately chose the 'blue-eyed and blond' preppie look of the Cobras to be part of the new generation of anti-heroes where the "have's" are the bad guys and the "have not's" are the heroes. This reversal of the typical hero, according to the article, was a theme that was repeatedly used in the movies of the early 80's, with other movies like "Revenge of the Nerds" portraying the blond and beautiful as bad guys.

In stark contrast to Macchio's dark latin looks, Zabka descibed himself as being the boy-next-door in 20 commercials. "I have a, you know, real innocent California look."

And this look extended throughout the Cobras. They're all blonds, right down to Chad McQueen's peroxided roots. Avildsen wanted a contrast with "Karate Kid" hero Ralph Macchio's dark visage. "We bleached his [Chad McQueens] hair just to continue the look." Avildsen's characterizations, in fact, show how dramatically champions have changed. In Avildsen's "Rocky," the Italian Stallion took on the black champ Apollo Creed. And now, about a decade later, a heroic Italian boy fights off a WASP opponent in what Avildsen has called "The Ka-rocky Kid."

Zabka describes his character as "very rich, has a really nice cycle. He comes from a very chichi family in the Hills. They, the gang, aren't sleazy types, but they're really screwed up." He recalls how he and the other young actors got motivated by talking over their make-believe parents' neuroses, alcoholism and drug abuse.

  "I learned more from this picture than I could ever learn from an acting class. Morita taught me an awful lot, as, of course, did John (Avildsen), who had such a good perspective on Johnny, my character, that even when I lost it, he still had it."
-Willam Zabka


Billy (as he prefers to be known) went on to play supporting roles in quite a few movies during the 80's and 90's including another martial arts movie, The Power Within in 1995 as well as National Lampoon's European Vacation in 1985 and briefly reprising his role as Lawrence in the Karate Kid II sequel in 1986.

Real life interests include surfing and back-packing. His favourite actor and someone he would love to work with is Sean Penn.

He also took the very unusual and admirable step of making the effort to write to Peter English, webmaster of the Karate Kid Homepage with some of his memories from the making of the movie. Along with everyone else, This author is hoping that he may, one day, find the time to add to his memories and give us some more interesting insights behind the scenes.


Fact File: Martin Kove Born March 6th, 1946, Brooklyn, New York

Doing an excellent job of playing the Sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo is Martin Kove. The character of Sensei John Kreese is portrayed
by Martin with admirable depth which belies the characters comic book dialogue and seems to authenticate the cliché Vietnam vet backstory he was straddled with.

Martin, of course is no newcomer to acting, his career having started in the early 70's with such notable (!) low budget flicks Last House on the Left in 1972 and the character of "Nero the Hero" in Death Race 2000 (1975).

Also during the 70's he appeared in a veritable 'who's-who' of episodic TV including The Streets Of San Francisco, Starsky and Hutch, The Rockford Files and Charlie's Angels before Starring as "Detective Victor Isbecki" for six years in Cagney & Lacey. He also had appeared in a number of stage plays.

Martin definitely seemed to be enjoying playing the charismatic Kreese and went on to reprise the role in the two sequels. In the meantime he played similar 'grizzly' army type roles in several movies, among them Rambo: First Blood part II in 1985.

Martin has kept busy all through the 90's, appearing in over 34 feature films and making appearances in more than 5 TV series. I suspect many will remember him though, as the harsh but strangely honourable disciplinarian from the original Karate Kid movie.



Fact File: Randee Heller Born ?

Also providing a very credible acting performance is Randee Heller as Daniel's mom. In this authors opinion Randee plays one of the most convincing on screen mom's in Hollywood history. Particularly convincing dialogue was provided by the writer Robert Kamen which enabled Randee to do and say all t
he annoyingly 'mom-ish' things that all real mom's do.

  "As for Daniel's mother, I've know a thousand women like her, who get one dirty deal after another but are always hoping the sun will come out next time.''
-Jerry Weintraub


Having appeared on Broadway in a number of productions, the most successful being Grease and Godspell, Randee made the move to California in 1978 and cut her teeth in episodic TV in such shows as Husbands, Wives & Lovers playing the character of "Rita DeLatorre" and the hugely popular "soap". In 1979 she found herself in the movie Fast Break which was a notable "underdogs overcoming adversity" type of movie with well written characters. -In that respect, not unlike the Karate Kid movie that was to serve as her second major feature production -After a couple of made for TV movies in the early 80's.

Although not prolific, Randee has continued to work on feature films throughout the 80's and 90's as well as also briefly reprising her role as Daniel's mother in Karate Kid III (1989).



Fact File:
Chad McQueen Born December 28, 1960, Los Angeles, California

Making his acting debut as "Dutch", one of the more memorable Cobra Kai henchmen was Chad McQueen, son of acting legend Steve McQueen and Neile Adams.

Chad was 23 at the time of the production and had been working around Hollywood since the late 70's in such roles as production assistant on a number of movies but the Karate Kid was his first 'real' acting job and being the son of a superstar acting legend cannot have made it any easier. As you may have read in William Zabka's bio, above, Chad's hair was deliberately dyed blond to make him match with the 'rich blond preppie' look.

His evil, mocking characterisation of Dutch is utterly convincing and easily worthy of his heritage so its a little suprising (and doubtless a little unlucky too) that he didn't find himself in more big budget, high profile roles as the 80's progressed.

Instead he was limited almost entirely to playing lead roles in second (or third) rate fare that quickly wound up on cable TV, working steadily and knocking out more than 20 roles in the following 10 years, during which he married and later divorced Stacy Toten.

In 1996, he both produced and starred in
the movie "Red Line" where he played the role of a stunt driver named "Jim" for which he is also credited as doing his own stunt driving work.

This lead to a second production deal with "Papertrail" in 1997 and to Chad's latest actor/producer deal with "Fall" which is scheduled for release in 2000.


Please Note:The original research for this section is taking longer than anticipated. More cast bio's and info will be added all the time. Please keep checking back with us
 
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