Karate Kid Now Same Age as Mr. Miyagi

Ralph Macchio is 51, the same age as Pat Morita was when "The Karate Kid" hit theaters in 1984.


Ralph Macchio is 51, the same age as Pat Morita was when “The Karate Kid” hit theaters in 1984.

Yahoo Movies (“Wanna feel old? Ralph Macchio is now the same age that Pat Morita was in the first ‘Karate Kid’“):

We don’t mean to cause an existential crisis for any children of the ’80s out there, but we felt it was worth noting that Daniel is now as old as Mr. Miyagi was upon the release of “The Karate Kid” (1984).

Yeah, a tweet made today by Roadside Attractions pointed out that Ralph Macchio is 51 … and so was Noriyuki ‘Pat’ Morita, once upon a time, even though his infinite wit and wisdom made him seem like he was at least a thousand years old.


Sure enough, Morita was born June 28, 1932.  The original “Karate Kid” was released June 22, 1984–six days before Morita’s 52nd birthday. And, of course, Morita was several months younger during filming.

Macchio has held up well. He not only looks about 20 years younger than Morita did at 51, he looks younger than Morita did when he was playing Arnold on “Happy Days” years earlier. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s the fact that Morita had a hell of a hard life early on: spending years in a full-body cast to deal with the effects of spinal tuberculosis and then years in an internment camp.  Then again, Macchio looked 12 when he was 20.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I suppose I’m more surprised that Moita was only in his 40s while film Happy Days. That’s a piece of trivia I was unaware of and never would’ve guessed. Like you said, his medical history and internment obviously contributed to premature aging. Although he did live until 2005 so it didn’t really impact longevity all that much.

  2. @Doug Mataconis: Same here. On the other hand, since we were all in single digits at the time that may have skewed our perceptions. 😉

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    I thought Morita was much older at the time because his character was a veteran of the 442nd Combat Regiment in the movie.

  4. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    His character in the movie would have had to have been at least 57 for that math to have worked out. (If, for example, Miyagi been an 18 year old GI in 1945).

  5. On a similar note: the present in Back to the Future (1985) is now almost as far in the past as 1955 was when that movie came out.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Yes, indeed. And the first episode of “Happy Days” is more than twice as far in the rearview mirror now (39 years) as the era it was nostalgizing was then (18 years).

  7. Kylopod says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Perhaps more pertinently, we’re only two years away from the “future” shown in Back to the Future II, with flying cars, hoverboards, and self-fitting, self-drying jackets…but curiously no i-phones.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    Or how about this: when Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” came out in 1993, it was portraying his long-ago world high school world of 1976.

    If another filmmaker the same age as Linklater was when he made “Dazed and Confused” set a movie in his high school years, he’d have to set it in…1996.

  9. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This is depressing on several different levels.

  10. rudderpedals says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Did you close out your short positions too soon?