Billy Blanks

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Billy Blanks
Billy Blanks navy.jpg
Blanks at Okinawa, Japan in April 2006
Born Billy Wayne Blanks
(1955-09-01) September 1, 1955 (age 59)
Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation fitness guru, martial artist, actor
Religion Christianity
Spouse(s) Tomoko Sato (m. 2009)[1]
Children Billy Blanks, Jr. (son)

Billy Wayne Blanks (born September 1, 1955) is an American fitness guru, martial artist, actor, and the inventor of the Tae Bo exercise program.[2][3][4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Blanks was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the fourth of fifteen children. As a child he suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia.

Blanks began his study of the martial arts at the age of eleven attending karate.[2][6] He was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that impaired his movement, and a clumsiness that earned him the taunts of his siblings and caused his coaches to believe he’d never accomplish much.

Career[edit]

Blanks at Gaeta, Italy in January 2002.
Blanks at Yokosuka, Japan in April 2006.

Blanks found the answer to these challenges in karate. When he saw Bruce Lee on TV, he decided he wanted to be a world martial-arts champion. The discipline of the program began to transform his body.[7]

Blanks was hired as a bodyguard for lead actress Catherine Bach during the filming of 1988's Driving Force, due to the political unrest present in Manila at the time; he impressed the producers so much, they wrote him into the script.[8] This led to Blanks' work in several martial arts films, including King of the Kickboxers and the first Bloodfist. Perhaps his most recognizable role to mainstream audiences is in the opening scene of Tony Scott's The Last Boy Scout as a doomed pro-football player. Blanks also appeared as the kickboxing instructor to Ashley Judd's character in Kiss the Girls.

In the late 1980s, Blanks invented the Tae Bo workout, while running a karate studio in Quincy, Massachusetts. He used components of his martial arts and boxing training.[9] The name is a portmanteau of tae kwon do and boxing.[10] Blanks opened a fitness center in Los Angeles to teach his new workout. He later attracted some celebrity clients such as Paula Abdul and the popularity of the workout quickly grew, becoming a pop culture phenomenon after Blanks began releasing mass-marketed videos. The popularity of the workout later waned, but Blanks still attracts many celebrity clients and Tae Bo videos and DVDs have continued to sell well.

Personal life[edit]

Blanks is a Christian and released a special line of Tae Bo workouts called the "Believer's" series that includes motivational prayers and other Christian components. He has appeared on Christian television network TBN.[11]

Blanks married Gayle H. Godfrey, whom he met in karate class. Gayle's daughter, Shellie, born on October 13, 1973, was adopted shortly after they married. Shellie Blanks Cimarosti, now an accomplished martial artist, is prominently featured in almost all of Blanks' Tae Bo videos and has recently produced her own video (Tae Bo Postnatal Power), as well as hosted her father's new infomercial Tae Bo T3 (Total Transformation Training). Gayle and Blanks also have a son, Billy Blanks, Jr., who works as a dancer, singer and fitness instructor, having produced several best-selling DVDs,[12] including "Cardioke" & "Fat Burning Hip Hop Mix", has starred in a touring production of Fame and has worked as a dancer in music videos with Madonna, Quincy Jones and Paula Abdul.[12][13][14][15][16]

Blanks and Gayle were divorced in 2008 after 33 years of marriage. According to the Petition for Legal Separation filed by his wife Gayle on April 22, 2008 in Los Angeles Superior Court, she and Blanks had been separated since September 25, 2007. The reason given in the petition for the separation is "irreconcilable differences."[17][18]

In November 2008, Blanks became the father of a new daughter, named Angelika. The mother is his Japanese interpreter at the time, Tomoko Sato, whom he had known since 2007.[1] Blanks and Sato's marriage was formally registered in January 2009 and their wedding ceremony was held on June 20, 2009. He has also adopted his new wife's two daughters, Marriett and Erika Peterson.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
2011 Jack & Jill Himself
2007 Dance Club: The Movie Dance Club Dancer (short)
1997 Kiss the Girls Kickboxing Instructor
Assault on Devil's Island Creagan
1996 Balance of Power Niko aka Hidden Tiger
1995 Expect no Mercy Justin Vanier
Tough and Deadly John Portland
1994 Back in Action Billy
1993 Showdown Billy Grant
TC 2000 Jason Storm
1992 Zhan long zai ye Billy
Talons of the Eagle Tyler Wilson
The Master Black Thug (uncredited)
1991 The Last Boy Scout Billy Cole
Timebomb Mr. Brown
The King of the Kickboxers Khan
1990 China O'Brien II Baskin's Fighter #1 (uncredited)
Lionheart African Legionnaire
1989 Tango & Cash Prison Thug (uncredited)
Bloodfist Black Rose
1988 Driving Force Pool
1986 Low Blow Guard

Television[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
2003 The Fairly OddParents Himself Episode: Kung Timmy

|1999|| " The Parkers " || Himself|| Episode: Taking Tae-bo with my Beau

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Billy Blanks and his Japanese wife". Japan Probe. April 16, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Blanks' life not letter perfect". CNN. September 26, 2002. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  3. ^ Green, Penelope (March 21, 1999). "MIRROR, MIRROR; Punching and Kicking All the Way to the Bank". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  4. ^ Doyle, Alicia (November 4, 1994). "A New Exercise Kick". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  5. ^ "On Top of the World". Inside Kung Fu. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  6. ^ "Billy Blanks: From tough-town beginnings to "putting on the power"". GAIM. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  7. ^ "Billy Blanks: Get Fit the Tae Bo Way! - The 700 Club". The Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  8. ^ Marilyn Beck (1988-10-17). "To Protect and Serve". Herald-Journal. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  9. ^ Gardetta, Dave (August 15, 1999). "Elvis Has Just Entered the Building". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  10. ^ Vitucci, Claire (December 8, 1997). "Kick-Boxing Craze: A new form of aerobic exercise has...". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  11. ^ "Billy Blanks". Trinity Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  12. ^ a b Cuneo, Kevin (12 January 2012). "Fitness runs in the family for Blanks". Erie Times-News (Erie, Pennsylvania, USA). Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Castagna, Cary. "Dancing your way to Keeping Fit". 24 Hours (Ontario, Canada: Sun Media Corporation). Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Christian, Margena A. (28 January 2008). Where is the cast of Good Times?. Jet Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. p. 34. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Ortega, Courtney (16 December 2011). "Reviews: 'Fat Burning Hip Hop Mix' and 'Dance Off the Inches' workout DVDs". Star-Telegram (Texas, U.S.). Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bluff The Listener". NPR. United States: National Public Radio. 4 December 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Petition for Legal Separation filed by Gayle H Blanks Petition for Legal Separation, April 22, 2008
  18. ^ Billy's Wife Files for Divorce

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]