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SYFY WIRE obituary

Robert Garrison, Tommy in Karate Kid franchise, dies at 59

By James Comtois
Cobra Kai Season 2 ep. 06 Johnny and Tommy Campfire Stories Scene

Robert Garrison, the actor who played Tommy in The Karate Kid franchise, has died after dealing with kidney and liver issues, according to a report from TMZ that SYFY WIRE confirmed. He was 59.

A representative of Garrison issued the following statement to SYFY WIRE: "Rob was a great person and ambassador to The Karate Kid legacy. 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."

Known for playing the member of Cobra Kai who shouted “Get him a body bag, yeah!” in the climactic scene from The Karate Kid, Garrison also appeared in The Karate Kid II and (uncredited) in The Karate Kid Part III through archived footage.

He recently reprised his role of Tommy for the YouTube series Cobra Kai. Season 2's "Take a Right" episode features Johnny (William Zabka) and his old Cobra Kai cohorts taking Tommy out of the hospital, where he was being treated for cancer, and onto the open road for one last camping trip.  

Cobra Kai creator and executive producer Jon Hurwitz offered his thoughts on Garrison’s passing and condolences to his family via social media. 

“Our entire Karate Kid/Cobra Kai family is devastated by the news of OG Cobra Rob Garrison's passing," Hurwitz wrote on Twitter. "He was a truly gifted performer and an even better man. My heart goes out to Rob's family during this difficult time. #RIP”

Zabka posted a heartfelt tribute to his friend and costar on Instagram. “Yesterday the world lost a beautiful soul and an incredibly gifted actor, and I lost one of my dearest friends — the one and only, Rob Garrison,” the actor wrote. “Rob and I met when we were auditioning for ‘Karate Kid.’ We instantly connected and became friends while filming the movie. Our friendship grew stronger over the many years since then.”

Zabka continued: “Rob was a true thespian — an ‘actors actor.’ Working with him was always natural and effortless. He elevated every scene and moment inside of them. Outside of acting, he was one of the most selfless and wonderful human beings I’ve ever known and I will miss him immensely.”

Garrison's first acting credit was for 1977's Starship Invasions. He also appeared in films such as Brubaker, Prom Night, and Iron Eagle, as well as a number of television shows, including St. Elsewhere, MacGyver, Columbo, and The Munsters Today.

He is survived by his brother, Patrick, and Patrick's wife, Linda.