Jason David Frank, ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ Star, Dies at 49
Jason David Frank, the actor who originated the role of Tommy Oliver a.k.a. the Green Ranger in the “Power Rangers” franchise, died Nov. 19 in Texas. He was 49 years old.
Frank’s death was confirmed to the Associated Press by his manager, Justine Hunt. No further details about the actor’s death could be confirmed, but she asked for the “privacy of his family and friends during this horrible time as we come to terms with the loss of such a wonderful human being.”
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“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” premiered in 1993 on Fox Kids, airing for three years for a young audience enthused by its dynamic casting of kung-fu savvy vigilantes. The “Power Rangers” franchise has continued across multiple iterations and adaptations in the years since, with Frank often returning to his role in the series, becoming a beloved figure among the fanbase.
Frank’s character was initially introduced as an antagonist in the series — placed under a spell by the Power Rangers’ nemesis Rita Repulsa, the Green Ranger is a deadly adversary to the team of heroes. Originally slated for a limited appearance, Frank ended up becoming a series regular due to the character’s popularity among fans. After the Green Ranger is freed from Rita’s mind manipulation, he is transformed into the White Ranger — a role that Frank fulfilled for the two seasons that followed.
“Can’t believe it…. RIP Jason David Frank.,” Walter Jones, one of Frank’s co-stars on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” wrote on Instagram. “My heart is sad to have lost another member of our special family.
Frank went on to accept roles in other “Power Rangers” shows and films, like that of a Red Zeo Ranger in “Power Rangers Zeo” and the first-ever Red Turbo Ranger in “Power Rangers Turbo,” though he departed from the latter project mid-season. Other highlights from the franchise include appearances in “Power Rangers Wild Force,” “Power Rangers: DinoThunder” and “Power Rangers Ninja Steel.”
Born Sept. 4 in Covina, Calif., Frank’s legacy remains embedded in the World Karate Union Hall of Fame and the Black Belt Hall of Fame. Frank’s acrobatic abilities were no thanks to movie magic; the acclaimed actor was also an eighth degree black belt in karate and possessed experience with various other styles of martial arts, including Taekwondo, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. He first started learning karate at four-years-old and received his first black belt at the age of 12.
In 1994, Frank began opening martial arts schools. At these dojos, Frank taught a new, self-created system of fighting called Toso Kune Do, which translates to “Way of the Fighting Fist” and incorporates many different martial arts styles.
When “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” wrapped, Frank met Kyoshi Rick Herbster, who became his long-time business partner. Together they started running Rising Sun Karate Academy, where Frank remained an educator for the remainder of his life.
Frank made his 2010 debut in the mixed martial arts ring at the U.S. Amateur Combat Association’s first-ever “Lonestar Beatdown” in Houston, Texas, where he won out against MMA fighter Jonathon “the Mack Truck” Mack in the first round. He started to receive MMA coaching from UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard a year prior to the fight.
Most recently, Frank was set to star in an upcoming film from director Aaron Schoenke. Titled “Legend of the White Dragon,” the film would follow Frank as the eponymous warrior.
Frank is survived by his two sons, Hunter and Jacob, and his two daughters, Skye and Jenna.
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