As many fans of Ralph Macchio’s might remember, the “Cobra Kai” actor was a television star years before his debut on the YouTube Red-turned-Netflix show. Around ten years ago, Macchio was a contestant on season 12 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” competing alongside professional dancer Karina Smirnoff. But viewers may not know Macchio had been dancing long before he appeared on the reality show. In case fans have forgotten, here is everything you need to know about Macchio’s appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Macchio Has a Background in Dancing
Although most celebrities who compete on “Dancing with the Stars” do not have prior dancing experience (this season’s celebrity cast caused some uproar among fans when it was discovered that at least five of them have had professional experience or dance training), Macchio had actually been dancing since he was a young child. According to Biography.com, Macchio began taking tap dance lessons when he was just three years old, and was actually discovered by a talent agent while participating in a dance recital when he was 16. It wasn’t until he was 18, however, that he landed his first acting role as Jeremy Andretti in ABC’s “Eight Is Enough.”
In 1996, when he was 34 years old, Macchio starred in a U.S. revival tour of the musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” playing the lead role of J. Pierrepont Finch. In April 1996, shortly before the debut of the tour, Playbill did a feature on Macchio, in which it mentioned his role in the chorus of the same play back in high school. Macchio said:
I was never cast as the lead then. I was known as the ‘Dancing Kid,’ not that I was all that great. But I had been dancing since the age of three, taking lessons at the June Claire School of Dance in Babylon, Long Island.
Footage of his performance in the play can be seen here.
In case fans are wondering whether Macchio’s dancing skills – which the Baltimore Sun described in 1996 as “a nice, loose-limbed dancing style” – contributed at all to his ability to play a karate student in “The Karate Kid,” Macchio talked about that in his Playbill profile as well. Apparently, “[Macchio] attributes some of his deft and fluid moves in movies [such] as the Karate Kidto his early training as a dancer.”
Macchio Placed Fourth in Season 12 of ‘Dancing with the Stars’
Although Macchio and his partner, Ukrainian-American professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, did not win their season of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2011, they did do relatively well, placing fourth out of eleven. Among the other celebrities who appeared on the season were Wendy Williams, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Kirstie Alley. Football player Hines Ward and his partner, Australian dancer Kym Johnson, ended up winning the season.
Smirnoff, notably, ended up winning the subsequent season, alongside her new celebrity partner, Iraq War veteran and motivational speaker, J. R. Martinez.
Some hardcore fans of “Cobra Kai” might recall William Zabka’s guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! while Macchio was on “Dancing with the Stars,” in which Zabka, playing Johnny Lawrence, was digitally added as a judge on the panel, and berates Macchio, whom he refers to as “LaRusso.”
“If you think that crane kick crap’s gonna work, you’ve got another thing coming, LaRusso!” the angry “Johnny Lawrence” yelled. “Go back to Reseda, punk! Will Smith’s kid would demolish you!” Referring to the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid,” starring Will Smith’s son, Jaden. “You’re nothing but a zero, LaRusso! A zero! And that’s what I’m gonna give you,” said “Johnny,” holding up a score card of zero.
Macchio wasn’t the only “Karate Kid” celebrity to be featured on “Dancing with the Stars.” Martin Kove, known for his role as John Kreese in “The Karate Kid” and “Cobra Kai,” appeared in the most recent season of “Dancing with the Stars” – season 30 – at the age of 75. Kove and his dancing partner Britt Stewart were eliminated first.
Be sure to watch Macchio, Zabka, and Kove continue their roles as Daniel LaRusso, Johnny Lawrence, and John Kreese in season 4 of “Cobra Kai,” set to be released on Netflix December 31.