Ralph Macchio

Ralph Macchio
Ralph Macchio
Real name:
Ralph George Macchio Jr.
Who is:
Birth date:
(62 y.o.)
Place of birth:
New York
5'8 ft ()
159 lb (72 kg)
Birth Sign:
Chinese zodiac:

Ralph Macchio Biography

Ralph Macchio is an American actor of Italian descent who gained fame in the mid-eighties for his role as young Daniel LaRusso in the "Karate Kid" trilogy. The second wave of popularity hit the actor in 2018 when the series "Cobra Kai" was released, a logical continuation of "The Karate Kid." In this continuation, LaRusso, now a successful car salesman, opens his own dojo.
Actor Ralph Macchio
Actor Ralph Macchio

Childhood, Adolescence, Family

Ralph was born in the fall of 1961 into a well-to-do American family to Ralph George Macchio and Rosalie DeSantis in New York.

His father, the owner of a laundry chain and a waste treatment company, comes from a Greek-Italian family, and his mother is Italian. The actor also has a younger brother named Steven.

From the age of three, Ralph took up tap dancing and performed at various competitions. At 16, he participated in a local dance contest as Eddie Cantor, a famous American comedic actor. After his performance, a talent scout approached him and offered him a role in a commercial.

Soon, Ralph began working with companies like Hershey’s and Dr. Pepper, and he advertised Bubble Yum chewing gum. However, at that time, acting was just a hobby for him. For instance, when he once had to choose between shooting another commercial or going to a beach party, he chose the latter.

Acting Career

Ralph Macchio's first film appearance was as Chooch in the comedy "Up the Academy." At the same time, he played the teenage heartthrob Jeremy Andretti in the series "Eight is Enough" and starred in two music videos.
19 Year Old Ralph Macchio in Eight is Enough
At 22, Macchio looked much younger and joined a cast of relatively unknown young actors portraying troubled teens in Francis Ford Coppola's drama "The Outsiders." His character, Johnny Cade, is a shy, skinny boy who receives special warmth from the rest of the "greaser" gang. Other members of the cast included Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, and Patrick Swayze – this film opened the door to Hollywood for all of them.

Director John G. Avildsen spotted Macchio in the role of Johnny Cade and began working on the youth film about martial arts "The Karate Kid" (1984). Ralph was perfect for the main role of Daniel LaRusso, the new kid at a school dominated by bullies from the Cobra Kai dojo. With the help of his new friend, Japanese karate master Mr. Miyagi, Daniel becomes stronger and defeats his main tormentor – Johnny Lawrence, the best student of Cobra Kai.
Ralph Macchio Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters - GQ
The actor had only two weeks to prepare and learn karate techniques. He trained much longer for the shooting of the sequel, released two years later, about which he said:
This was like ballet. We barely touched each other. I had some dance training as a kid, and these fight scenes were choreographed, so I learned the choreography well. I had long, lanky limbs, so I looked like a crane... I used that to my advantage. As for being a technical fighter, I had a long way to go back then.
In the second part, LaRusso goes to Japan with his master, and in the third part, he faces a new cunning enemy, Terry Silver, an army buddy of the "Cobra" sensei.

During the filming of the three "Karate Kid" movies, Macchio landed the lead role in another film, "Crossroads." In Walter Hill's musical drama, he played the ambitious young guitarist Eugene Martone, dreaming of becoming the world's top blues musician. To achieve this, he makes a deal with Old Scratch, and the story unfolds according to genre conventions. Ralph's co-star was Joe Seneca, who played the old man Willie, who had experienced the price of a deal with the devil firsthand.

In the 1980s, Ralph tried his hand on Broadway, participating in the production of "Cuba and His Teddy Bear" and the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."

In 1990, he starred with Robert Downey Jr. in the comedy "Too Much Sun," in 1992 played one of the main roles in the movie "My Cousin Vinny" alongside Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci, and then disappeared from the radar for many years, occasionally appearing in TV shows (such as "Dancing with the Stars" in 2011, where he finished fourth) and series with cameos ("Entourage," "How I Met Your Mother").
Ralph Macchio in My Cousin Vinny
Macchio also worked as a producer: in 2012, he took on the filming of the documentary project "American Gypsies" for National Geographic. His friend's son was shooting a story about the Johns, a New York gypsy clan, for film school. When Ralph saw his work, he was inspired to dispel the negative stereotypes about gypsy culture.
...In the first season, viewers will see the search for a balance between the American dream and centuries-old gypsy traditions... Gypsy court, wedding, conflicts, and dilemmas...
In 2012, he appeared in the biographical film "Hitchcock" – played screenwriter Joseph Stefano, who had adapted Robert Bloch's novel "Psycho" for Alfred Hitchcock's film adaptation.

A new wave of recognition came to Macchio in 2018 with the premiere of the series "Cobra Kai," which is a direct continuation of the "Karate Kid" trilogy. The plot tells how two old enemies have changed over many years: Johnny, once a successful athlete, became a loser and an alcoholic and, disillusioned with everything, decided to open a karate school under the old name "Cobra Kai."

Ralph's character, the successful owner of a chain of car dealerships Daniel LaRusso, mourning the death of his mentor Mr. Miyagi, fears that "Cobras" will once again terrorize the local youth, and opens his dojo, preaching Miyagi's principles.

Young students Lawrence and LaRusso in the series were played by Xolo Maridueña (Miguel), Mary Mouser (Samantha), and Tanner Buchanan (Robby). The series' success, initially conceived as a web project, was staggering and led to five more seasons.

Talking about his favorite moments from filming the fifth season, Ralph admitted he had two – one comedic and one dramatic, specifically those he was involved in:
...I like in episode ten when they pull me out of the limo with Mike Barnes and the meeting of Johnny, Barnes, and Chozen with Barnes, and they all gather to storm the castle, while Daniel LaRusso is very much like Ed Helms in «The Hangover,» trying to be the voice of reason and ending up alone. [The second moment] – the end of episode six, entering Mr. Miyagi's old room in the house and the emotions there, and the scene with Amanda, and then the kids come in. And it's like they all rally around Daniel LaRusso, feeling that he may not be as young, but sort of the hero he once was in the original film. It was a good reflection of that moment.

The Personal Life of Ralph Macchio

Actor Ralph Macchio was just 15 years old when his grandmother introduced him to a girl named Phyllis Fierro, who later became a practicing nurse. Their teenage crush turned into deep feelings, and in 1987, Ralph and Phyllis got married.

The actor still lives with his wife, keeping haters at bay with no fodder for gossip. The couple has two children – a daughter, Julia (born 1992), and a son, Daniel (born 1996), named after the character from the famous "The Karate Kid".

Ralph Macchio's children have followed in their father's footsteps – Julia became an actress and appeared in several movies, including "City on a Hill" and "Cobra Kai". Daniel also works in the film industry, known as a screenwriter, composer, and actor in several TV series.

Ralph Macchio Now

While fans were awaiting the release of the sixth and final season of "Cobra Kai," set for 2024, it was announced that Ralph Macchio had signed on to star in a new feature film "The Karate Kid." According to the producers, the movie will not be connected to the "Cobra Kai" series, but Macchio will return to his role as Daniel LaRusso.

Interesting Facts

  • Despite their constant rivalry in "The Karate Kid" and "Cobra Kai," Ralph Macchio and William Zabka (who plays Johnny Lawrence) became best friends in real life, which they revealed in an interview before the series premiered.

  • During a period when he had very few acting offers, Macchio turned to producing and scriptwriting. In 2002, he directed and wrote "Love Thy Brother," which was released on American screens. Additionally, recalling his talent as a dancer, he participated in "Dancing with the Stars," where he and Karina Smirnoff (an immigrant from Kharkiv) placed fourth.

  • Ralph Macchio is one of the most loyal fans of the "New York Islanders" hockey team. To acknowledge his dedication, the players released a collectible card and ordered a bobblehead toy with the actor's face in the team's uniform. The souvenir was presented to Ralph, and in addition, to ten thousand fans.