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Of the many classic ‘80s movies that have transcended their time, 1984’s The Karate Kid certainly stands out. It’s iconic, immensely quotable and lives on over 30 years later after its release with YouTube’s highly-successful Cobra Kai series. It’s a sad day for Karate Kid fans because Robert Garrison, the actor from the Cobra Kai karate crew known as Tommy has passed away at 59.
Robert Garrison died Friday morning in a hospital in West Virginia after suffering kidney and liver problems there for over a month. His death was a result of his organs shutting down, Garrison’s sister-in-law Linda told TMZ. Funeral arrangements are currently in the works by his family.
Garrison began his Hollywood career as a child actor in the late ‘70s, appearing in films such as Lost and Found and Prom Night, starring scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, before landing his most famous role of Tommy in The Karate Kid at 24. His Cobra Kai character utters the famous line “Get him a body bag! Yeah!” during the film’s nail-biting climax sequence at the final tournament.
The actor reprised his role as Tommy for The Karate Kid Part II in 1986 before going on to guest star on various television shows such as MacGyver, Columbo and Coach. He also had a role in 1986 action-thriller Iron Eagle. For the past 20 years, Garrison’s contributions to film and television had been scarce until he returned to season two of Cobra Kai earlier this year.
Cobra Kai has much of the main Karate Kid cast returning to their iconic roles including rivals Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso and William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence, along with Martin Kove’s John Kreese. In contrast to the family-friendly nature of the original films, it has an edgy and comedic R-rated take. The YouTube Original series has been highly-praised by fans and is set to continue in 2020 with a third season.
Cobra Kai writer/director Jon Hurwitz paid tribute to Robert Garrison following news of his death, with the following message posted to social media:
At least the members of Cobra Kai had some quality time together before his passing. Hurwitz continued on Twitter by sharing memories of Robert Garrison on set, including the gang having beers and telling stories, and the late actor talking about his time on Iron Eagle.
Hurwitz also revealed plans for Robert Garrison to return for the third season, though it’s unclear whether that has already been filmed or was in the works. Perhaps a tribute will memorialize him when Cobra Kai returns next year.
The Karate Kid reached its 35th anniversary over the summer. The entire Cobra Kai television series is currently available to stream for free on YouTube for a limited time.