Rob Garrison

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Rob Garrison
Garrison as Tommy in Cobra Kai
Born(1960 -01-23)January 23, 1960
DiedSeptember 27, 2019(2019-09-27) (aged 59)
Wheeling, West Virginia, U.S.
Alma materOhio University
Years active1977–2018, 2019
Known for

Robert Scott Garrison (January 23, 1960 – September 27, 2019) was an American actor known for his role as Tommy in the 1984 film The Karate Kid and the second season of its spinoff Cobra Kai.

Garrison started his acting career in the 1970s and continued steadily over the 1980s and 1990s. He acted in Brubaker (1980), The Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid Part II (1986), and Iron Eagle (1986). He also had roles in the television shows Coach, St. Elsewhere, MacGyver, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.

Early life[edit]

Garrison was born on January 23, 1960, and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia.[1]


He first became involved in acting at Wheeling Park High School and also had a small role in Starship Invasions (1977)[2] before graduating in 1978.[3] He then studied theater at Ohio University on a full scholarship, and received a small role as a convict in Robert Redford's prison film Brubaker (1980).[3] After graduating from Ohio University in 1982, he was cast as Tommy in the 1984 film The Karate Kid, although both he and William Zabka tried out for the role of Johnny.[3][4] Garrison reprised this role during season 2 of the Netflix web series Cobra Kai in 2019.[5][6][7][8] His Karate Kid character Tommy is remembered for delivering the line "Get him a body bag, yeah!" during the closing moments of the climactic fight between Ralph Macchio's Daniel LaRusso and Zabka's Johnny Lawrence in the original Karate Kid film.[9] He later stated that the line, heard while his character is offscreen, was not a part of the original script: "My famous line, I never said that while filming. I looped that in two months later. I was in the recording booth with John [Avildsen] and he said he needed two seconds of something. I said, 'Get him a body bag!' on the first try. John said 'That's going to be a classic. You'll never be forgotten because of that line.'"[10][3]

Garrison continued his acting career over the 1980s and 1990s, appearing in films such as The Karate Kid Part II (cameo) (1986) and Iron Eagle (1986).[11][2] He also had roles in the television shows Coach, St. Elsewhere, MacGyver and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.[7][8]

He acted in the 2007 No More Kings music video Sweep the Leg, which parodied The Karate Kid,[12][13] The Pledge (2011), and the short film The Static released in 2016.[11] Garrison interacted with his fans via social media and reprised the role of Tommy in the second season of Cobra Kai, which was his last performance.[4][2]

Personal life[edit]

In a later part of Garrison's life, acting was no longer his full-time work and he was employed as a restaurant manager.[3][14]


Garrison continued acting on stage in local theatre productions in Wheeling until his health began to fail him. He died on September 27, 2019, at the age of 59.[1][2] He had been admitted to a West Virginia hospital for treatment of kidney and liver issues, where he had been hospitalized for a month until his organs shut down.[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Starship Invasions Suicide Crewman [4]
1979 Search and Destroy R.J.
1979 Lost and Found Ed Connally
1980 Brubaker Pretty Boy [2]
1984 The Karate Kid Tommy [4]
1984 Best Revenge Eddie
1986 Iron Eagle Packer [4]
1986 The Karate Kid Part II Tommy [4]
1988 Human Error
1990 Hollywood Hot Tubs 2: Educating Crystal Billy Dare
2011 The Pledge Pat Kern [11]
Year Title Role Notes
1986 St. Elsewhere Bomber 1 episode[9]
1987 MacGyver Patrol Officer 1 episode[4]
1988 Tour of Duty Lt. Biggs 1 episode[15]
1989 Columbo Young Man 1 episode[4]
1990 Coach Insurance Salesman 1 episode[4]
1995 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues Sheriff Blaine 1 episode[11]
2019 Cobra Kai Tommy 1 episode (final acting role)[4]
Music Video
Year Title Role Notes
2007 Sweep the Leg Tommy by No More Kings[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Robert Scott Garrison: Kepner Funeral Homes Burke Chapel Obituary". September 27, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e France, Lisa. "Rob Garrison, 'Karate Kid' actor, dead at 59". CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ayres, Eric (December 5, 2014). "Stage Is Home to Garrison". The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wheat, Lorraine (September 27, 2019). "'The Karate Kid' Actor Rob Garrison Dies at 59". Variety. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  5. ^ Garrison, Rob (April 25, 2019). "Rob Garrison@therobgarrison". Twitter. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Topel, Fred (April 27, 2019). "'Cobra Kai' Season 2: About That 'Karate Kid' Reunion in Episode 6…". /Film. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Evans, Greg (September 27, 2019). "Robert Garrison Dies: 'The Karate Kid' Actor Was 59". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "R.I.P. 'Karate Kid' Star Robert Garrison Dies After Long Health Battle". Radar Online. September 27, 2019. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Blistein, Jon (September 27, 2019). "Rob Garrison, Actor Who Played Tommy in 'The Karate Kid,' Dead at 59". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  10. ^ Prewitt, Alex (May 1, 2018). "The Crane Kick Is Bogus: A Karate Kid Oral History". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "What the Karate Kid Cast Looks Like Today". Marvel Movies. Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Frye, Cory (March 10, 2018). "Of Being and Johnny Lawrence (Sweep the Leg)". Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Strauss, Chris (October 9, 2014). "'Karate Kid' villain Billy Zabka is still best friends with the Cobra Kais". USA Today. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "R.I.P. 'Karate Kid' Star Robert Garrison Dies After Long Health Battle". RadarOnline. September 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Bicks, Emily (September 27, 2019). "Rob Garrison Cause of Death: How Did the 'Karate Kid' Star Die?". Retrieved September 28, 2019.

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