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Jason David Frank, who played the iconic Green and White Power Ranger Tommy Oliver on the 1990s children’s series “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” has died as of Sunday. He was 49.
ABC News reports Justine Hunt, Frank’s manager, said in a statement she did not name the cause of death or say when he died, but asked for “privacy of his family and friends during this horrible time as we come to terms with the loss of such a wonderful human being.”
Tommy was the leader everyone could follow
For many kids of the 1990s, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was one of the first daily viewing experiences we ever shared. As an after school must-see television event, Hunt’s character arcs and martial arts shined bright, stealing scenes and forging his own path as a vital addition to the show’s success and popularity.
Tommy’s arrival to the scene was iconic in real-time and the fanfare would be second to none.Mighty Morphin Power Rangers averaged 4.8 million daily viewers in its first season, according to Nielsen, and 6.9 million in its second, making it by far the most popular kids’ show of its era.
Its toys, costumes and merchandise generated about $1 billion in revenue in 1995, according to Fortune. When the Power Rangers actors went to Universal Studios in 1994 for a meet and greet, they attracted 35,000 people and caused an 8-mile-long (13 km) traffic jam in Los Angeles.
Willlis Maxwell of the “Black Power Rangers Comedy Tour” says, “I was shocked when I heard the news.” He added, “Every time you and your friends pretended to be Power Rangers there was an argument over who would be Tommy. Jason David Frank joined the most popular franchise and made it even bigger.”
“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” about five teenagers deputized to save Earth from evil, debuted on Fox in 1993 and went on to become a pop-culture phenomenon. Early in the first season, Frank’s Tommy Oliver was first seen as a villain, brainwashed by the evil Rita Repulsa. But soon after, he was inducted in the group as the Green Ranger and became one of the most popular characters on the show.
Walter Emmanuel Jones, the original Black Power Ranger who co-starred with Frank, wrote on Instagram that he couldn’t believe it. “My heart is sad to have lost another member of our special family,” wrote Jones. Thuy Trang, who played the original Yellow Power Ranger, died in a car accident in 2001 at age 27.
Though his role wasn’t intended to be permanent, Frank was later brought back as the White Ranger and the leader of the team. Across spinoff TV series, Frank’s Tommy Oliver returned as other rangers, as well, including Red Zeo Ranger, the Red Turbo Ranger and the Black Dino Ranger.
Rip Jason David Frank. The Greatest Power Ranger to have ever lived pic.twitter.com/8XDCRGEq36
— PuglifeGames (@PuglifeGamess) November 20, 2022
He also played him in the films “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” and “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie,” and made a cameo in the 2017 reboot “Power Rangers.”
A practitioner of martial arts, Frank fought in several mixed martial arts bouts in 2009 and 2010.
TMZ earlier reported that Frank’s second wife, Tammie Frank, filed for divorce from him in August. Frank is survived by four children; one from his marriage with Tammie Frank and three from his first marriage to Shawna Frank.