Robert Garrison Dies: ‘The Karate Kid’ Actor Was 59


Robert Garrison, an actor best known for his role as Tommy in the original The Karate Kid, a sequel and this year’s Cobra Kai series, has died, Deadline has confirmed. He was 59.

A cause of death was not officially released, though reports indicate he had been ill for a time.

“Rob was a great person and ambassador to The Karate Kid legacy,” said his rep Rick Henriques in a statement provided to Deadline. ” His performance in Season 2 of Cobra Kai, being his last, was simply amazing and he stole the episode. He will be missed by me and everyone he encountered”

As the franchise’s Tommy, Garrison made for an appropriately nasty foil for Ralph Macchio’s Daniel starting with the 1984 original film. He returned to the role in 1986’s Karate Kid: Part II and for an appearance in this year in the YouTube Premium Cobra Kai. 

“I’m heartened to know how much Rob enjoyed and cherished his time working on Cobra Kai,” tweeted Jon Hurwitz, Cobra Kai writer and producer. “We were looking forward to seeing his smiling face again this season, as we had plans for Tommy to ride again. But he’ll remain in our thoughts every day as we strive to make him proud.”

Garrison got his start as a child actor in 1977’s Starship Invasions, a sci-fi feature starring Robert Vaughn and Christopher Lee. He stayed active in small roles in films Brubaker, Prom Night and others before landing his signature role in The Karate Kid.

“Get him a body bag! Yeah!”, ‘The Karate Kid’ YouTube

“Get him a body bag! Yeah!” was perhaps his most memorable line from the original film, yelled by Garrison during the film’s ultimate showdown.

After Kid, he landed guest roles on St. Elsewhere, MacGiver and Coach, but credits were scarce beyond the mid-1990s. His return to the Cobra Kai series reflected his embrace of his signature role, attending fan conventions with some Karate Kids co-stars over the years. In 2018 he tweeted:

The actor is survived by his brother Patrick and sister-in-law Linda.

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