Ralph Macchio, otherwise known as Daniel LaRusso, is celebrating his 62nd birthday today!
Macchio played LaRusso in three “Karate Kid” films and reprised the role in the Netflix series “Cobra Kai.” Netflix has confirmed the upcoming season 6 will be the final season for the popular show.
Macchio wrote about his experience as “The Karate Kid” in his autobiography, “Waxing On: The Karate Kid and Me.”
There was an effortless ease from the first reading with Pat Morita, who played Mr Miyagi, Daniel’s mentor. It felt as if we had been kissed by some soulful magic. Mr Miyagi is The Karate Kid. He’s a human Yoda, a father figure, the secret sauce that makes the film not just another 1980s coming-of-age movie.
Apart from four jiu-jitsu lessons when I was 10, I had no martial arts experience. Before filming, I was trained in Okinawan Gōjū-ryū karate by Pat E Johnson, who coordinated the fight scenes and played the head referee in the tournament at the end of the film.
I saw the movie for the first time at a sneak preview at the Baronet and Coronet theatre in Manhattan. I can still feel that rush, like being on the back row of a rollercoaster when you’re seeing everyone’s heads and shoulders move in concert. The love affair between this kid, his mentor and the audience kept building. During the final fight scene, people jumped out of their seats as if their team had won the World Cup or the Super Bowl. When I left the cinema, everyone was doing the crane kick on Third Avenue.
Macchio married his wife, Phyllis Fiero, in 1987. They met when they were 15 and he said it was ‘love at first sight!’
They have two children, daughter Julia who is 31, and son Daniel, 28. Yes, Daniel was named after his “Karate Kid” character! It’s also the name of Fiero’s cousin and best friend.
Julia is an actress who appeared in “Cobra Kai” as Daniel’s cousin Vanessa LaRusso. Daniel is a business intelligence and analytics manager for the New York Islanders.
Happy birthday, Ralph Macchio!