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Jason David Frank: Suit Up For These 11 Facts About The Power Rangers Star

Jason David Frank proved that the best way to become a success in life is to focus your energy on other people. He joined the cast of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" in the middle of its first season as Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, and fans quickly came to love the actor as much as the character. What was supposed to be a temporary role turned into a lifelong career, and through it all, Frank never lost sight of the fans who launched him into fame.

Tommy Oliver had the best "Power Rangers" stories, but many of Frank's best stories happened off camera. Though you might not know it even after watching Frank's 200-plus episodes of "Power Rangers," he was one of the most accomplished martial artists of his generation. He tried to be a teacher, not just of martial arts, but of life lessons, and he used everything from his acting career to his amateur poetry for the benefit of his students.

Time and time again Frank did what he could to entertain, instruct, and relate to everyone he met. Frank's devastating death in November 2022 has left his fans reeling, but his legacy will last forever. Take a moment to get to know him the way only true fans do.

He earned a black belt at age 12

Martial arts take a lifetime of dedication and practice to master. Any fan of Frank knows that he could pull off fighting moves like no other, and when you look back at his past, it's easy to see how he became such a master of the form. Frank started his training early, and his natural talent let him progress through the ranks at an incredible rate.

Frank first got involved with the practice when he was 4 years old (per Rising Sun Karate) and in just a handful of years, he went from barely knowing any moves to being a truly formidable fighter. By the time he was 12 years old, Frank had earned his black belt and was moving on to bigger and better things. In 1994, when Frank was just 21 years old, he was inducted into the American Karate Kung Fu Federation's Hall of Fame. That same year he created his own fighting system.

Toso Kune Do, or "Way of the Fighting Fist," was the new practice that Frank developed after years of studying multiple martial arts forms. Frank loved the work of famous martial artists like Bruce Lee and wanted to incorporate their styles into his system. On top of fighting techniques and weapons training, Toso Kune Do also incorporates different life philosophies to help foster well-rounded practitioners.

He was supposed to be a temporary Power Ranger

Frank and "Power Rangers" are nearly synonymous. He got his start in "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," but that was far from the end of his involvement with the franchise. Frank went on to star in continuations like "Power Rangers Zeo," "Power Rangers Turbo," and "Power Rangers Dino Thunder." He also made appearances in other spin-offs and 2017's "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie." Frank always seemed willing to don another Power Rangers costume, and fans were always thrilled to see him return.

Looking back, it seems impossible that "Power Rangers" could have achieved its level of success without Frank involved. Back in the early '90s, however, Frank's importance to the series was far from clear. He didn't join the show until Season 1's "Green with Evil: Part 1," and at the time he was only supposed to be a temporary character. "I was only hired for ten episodes," Frank told CBN News. Fans instantly fell in love with Tommy, and from that moment on his fate was sealed. Decades later, Frank has starred in more than 200 "Power Rangers" episodes and multiple films based on the franchise (via IMDb).

He was a rap fan

Back in the '90s, Frank's schedule was kept pretty busy. Between traveling and filming for "Power Rangers" and keeping up his regular martial arts practice, he hardly had a minute to himself. Those two obligations weren't the entirety of his life, though, and he still found a way to wind down and enjoy other things.

In 2017, Frank told Metal Hammer (via Louder) that he was a huge music fan, and he went out of his way to catch as many shows as possible from some of the greatest bands of the '90s. He was frequently standing in the crowd rocking out to bands like System of a Down and Korn.

For Frank, music also became a way for him to bond with his older brother, Eric. "Me and my brother liked kind of the same thing, but he went a little further to the metal stuff and I went a little further to the rap stuff," he said. While the two of them definitely had some overlapping tastes, it was Frank who got to introduce his brother to musicians like NWA and Tupac Shakur. Seeing shows with his brother created memories that would stay with Frank for the rest of his life.

He lost his older brother in 2001

Frank and his older brother Eric were incredibly close. They spent plenty of time together off camera, but fans got to have a peek into their relationship thanks to "Power Rangers." Eric briefly joined the cast of "Power Rangers Zeo" in 1996, playing David Truehart, the older brother to Tommy.

Tragically, Eric died in 2001 at age 29. The loss of his older brother dramatically changed Frank's life forever. He told CBN News that in the wake of Eric's death, many of his family and friends reached out to him and encouraged him to seek out God and the community at a church to help him heal. He ended up joining a congregation at Crosby Church in Texas, and it not only brought him some peace but also pushed his career in a new direction. Frank teamed up with his pastor Keenan Smith to work on Team Impact, a performance-based project that used pro athletes to spread the church's message.

As the years went on, Frank's religion became one of the most important parts of his life. In addition to his work with the church, he also founded Jesus Didn't Tap, a company that creates athletic clothing with Christian imagery and slogans.

He had a brief MMA career

Most people know Frank from his acting career. Even though he clearly demonstrates some serious fighting prowess in most of his roles, fans might be shocked to learn that he also has some experience as a professional athlete.

As an accomplished martial artist, Frank taking the leap into MMA fighting is a no-brainer. In May 2010 he had his debut amateur match against Carlos Horn. Frank had a rough start to the match after being instantly knocked down by Horn. Just a moment later, though, Frank managed to turn things around and locked Horn into an armbar, winning the match in just 21 seconds.

Just a few months later, Frank had his first pro bout with Jose Vasquez. Frank managed to close that match out with even more ease than in his amateur debut. Afterward, Frank and his daughter posed for a victory picture. As excited as the Green Ranger's fans were to see him stepping into the professional ring, their enthusiasm had to be cut short. Frank had so many other obligations in his life that he didn't continue on in his MMA career. While that might be a bit disappointing, it also means that between his handful of amateur fights and his one professional go-around, Frank has a perfect win record.

He had roles outside of Power Rangers

Before "Power Rangers," Frank's acting career was barely in its infancy. Prior to landing the role of Tommy, Frank had only starred in a single episode of "V.R. Troopers," a series that came straight from the creators of "Power Rangers." After that episode, Frank landed the role that would come to define his career.

Frank will always be Tommy from "Power Rangers," but even though he put an almost unimaginable amount of time into that franchise, through the decades he also picked up a range of other roles. His television work led him to brief appearances on shows like "Family Matters," "Sweet Valley High," "Meego," and "Undressed." In 2011 he had the opportunity to lead his first feature film, David A. Prior's "The Dragon Warrior."

Frank also landed a handful of roles that didn't require him to get in front of the camera. He voiced Tommy in the 2004 "Power Rangers: Dino Thunder" video game, and a decade later he signed on to voice Vapor Wave Poseidon in the game "Smite." Like his TV career, Frank catered his voice acting to younger audiences. In 2017, he played Emissary in "Transformers: Titans Return," and in 2018, he made a guest appearance in an episode of "We Bear Bears." In front of the camera or not, Frank managed to bring his strong personality and charm to every role he played.

He broke a world record

Frank seemed to have a supernatural ability to stretch time to his will. How else can you explain the amount of work that he managed to accomplish year after year? A mixture of Frank's time-stretching abilities and endless ambition led him to tackle one lofty goal after another, but in 2013 he really went above and beyond.

After succeeding as an actor, martial artist, and professional fighter, Frank broke a Guinness World record with one impressive pine board feat. Breaking boards is a regular martial arts practice, so Frank already had his technique perfected, but for this particular record, he'd be doing something truly unique: breaking boards in free fall.

Join the Teem released a video showing Frank preparing to break boards while falling out of an airplane. Pulling off this wild stunt required some extra assistance — Frank needed people to hold the boards in place for him, and there had to be someone else to work the camera. Everyone involved had to be trained to use a parachute, and they all basically became skydiving experts along the way. When it came time to make the record-breaking jump, Frank literally dove in headfirst and broke 7 boards in under 50 seconds. At that point, he pulled his chute and sailed down to victory. According to Guinness World Records, Frank lost his position a few months later when Ernie Torres broke 12 boards while falling, but Frank's stunt will still go down in history.

He once fought Scorpion from Mortal Kombat

Fans argue about what would happen if their favorite heroes and villains from different franchises had the opportunity to go toe to toe. There are countless exciting matchups between tough-as-nails characters from different properties, but unless something like "Marvel vs Capcom" rolls around, fans don't get to see those imaginary battles play out.

That's where Frank steps in, who worked with Machinima to give his fans a fight they'd never forget. In an episode of "Super Power Beat Down," Frank helped stage a battle between the White Ranger and Scorpion from the "Mortal Kombat" series. In the lead-up to the fight, Frank argued that the White Ranger, with his mighty morphin abilities and mastery of seven different martial arts forms, was guaranteed to win.

When fists start flying, Scorpion and the White Ranger seem pretty evenly matched. Both are accomplished fighters, and both have access to special powers that let them hit harder and even teleport around the arena. In the end, though, Frank proved to be right. The White Ranger closes out the fight with a flawless stab from his legendary laser-blasting sword Saba.

He ran his own fighting schools

When Frank wasn't breaking world records, fighting supervillains, or putting his own martial arts skills to the test, he was doing his best to inform the next generation of martial artists. Remember how Frank earned his first black belt when he was only 12 years old? Well, just six years later he got to step into the role of teacher for the very first time when he became the owner of Red Dragon Karate, the very school where his own training began (via Rising Sun Karate).

Not long after taking over Red Dragon, Frank joined the cast of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and developed his Toso Kune Do fighting system. Then, in 1996 Frank met another martial artist named Rick Herbster and became the co-owner of Rising Sun Karate Academy.

More than anything, teaching martial arts was Frank's lifelong career. Throughout all of his "Power Rangers" years, Frank stayed involved at his schools. Even as he began taking on more outside work, from acting to fighting to record-breaking, he never lost sight of his role as a teacher. In 2017, Frank told Metal Hammer (via Louder) that in addition to working at Rising Sun Karate, he also owned multiple other martial arts schools and managed to balance that work with his ever-flourishing acting career. Frank wouldn't let anything stop him from pursuing his passions.

He helped raise his grandson

In spite of a busy filming schedule, a massive workload as a teacher, and an ongoing career as a professional martial artist, Frank still managed to be a family man. In 1994, he married his first wife Shawna, and they had three kids together before divorcing in 2001 (via The U.S. Sun), and two years later Frank married his second wife, Tammie, with whom he has one child.

Frank stayed involved in his children's lives, and when things got tough, he was never afraid to step up and take on more responsibility. Frank's stepdaughter Shayla died in late 2021, leaving the entire family devastated. His wife Tammie told People that Shayla left behind an infant son, who she and Frank decided to raise. The loss combined with the stress of raising another baby put a strain on their relationship, but Tammie said that she and Frank had begun healing and coming back together shortly before his death in November 2022.

He's in one last feature film

Who could resist the opportunity to put on a new super-suit and fight the forces of evil once more? Certainly not Frank. He helped create "Legend of the White Dragon," a feature-length film about heroes being hunted down after taking the blame for a cataclysmic event that left countless people dead. A trailer for the film shows off flashy costumes, high-tech weaponry, and rapid-fire fighting that all looks like it could slide into a high-budget episode of "Power Rangers." But despite the similarities to Frank's popular franchise, this latest film is meant to take him in a new direction.

In the movie, Frank plays Erik Reed, a man who has the power to call on the White Dragon to help him face down his enemies, but whose life as a hero has gone wildly off course. Frank told ComicBook.com that even though fans of "Power Rangers" will be able to relate to Erik, this hero is "a completely different character than Tommy Oliver." 

Erik is a darker character inside of a darker story, but he still lets Frank express his acting range and suite of martial arts skills. After Frank's death in November 2022, the production posted a memorial to the "Legend of the White Dragon" Instagram page. Frank had finished filming his part before his death, so the movie will be his last heroic outing for all his fans to enjoy.