Statistically speaking, most of the people reading this article grew up on Power Rangers. With 23 seasons under its ridiculously colorful belt, the show has been on the air longer than some of our readers have even been alive. So many actors have come in and out of the roles that it's become the kids' version of Doctor Who or James Bond: You don't just say, "The Yellow Ranger is my favorite." Your favorite is Becky Punchknuckle's depiction of the Yellow Ranger.
That being said, I thought it would be fun to dive into Google and Wikipedia to find out what our favorite Power Rangers actors have been up to since retiring from the show. And since I've already mentioned the Yellow Ranger, we might as well start with her.
Thuy Trang was the very first Yellow Ranger, and though she was only on the show from 1993 to 1994, she was in a whopping 81 episodes. She didn't just play that role; she owned it. Since retiring from the show, though, Thuy has ...
Oh, shit. I'm really sorry about this, but it turns out she isn't with us anymore. It looks like back in 2001 she was a passenger in a car that slammed into a roadside cliff, flipped several times, and then went over a guard rail. She died at age 27, and the other passenger was paralyzed and rendered a quadriplegic. Holy Jesus, that's terrible. I'm so sorry for this. I didn't want this to turn into something dark. Let's just give Thuy a moment of respectful silence and move on.
What about Richard Genelle? You remember him, right? He was Ernie, the happy, jolly owner of Angel Grove Youth Center from 1994 until 1997. You know, this guy:
Also known as the Hawaiian Print Ranger.
Just glancing over his Wikipedia page, it looks like a pretty uplifting story. He left the show in 1997 because he wanted to take care of his personal issues with smoking and obesity. And good for him, because he actually lost 40 pounds! That's pretty amazing, and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we're incredibly proud of you, Richard. We all wish you a long and -- oh for the love of God, he died of a heart attack in 2008. Goddammit. What the hell, man? He was 47 years old. I mean, I understand that he had weight issues, but that's still pretty young.
Wait a minute, Robert L. Manahan died of a heart attack too, at age 43! What the shitting fuck?! That's the guy who played Zordon, the giant floaty space head who created the Power Rangers! He's not supposed to die. He's omnipotent! Christ, I don't want to hear about the unnatural deaths of my childhood icons. That's beyond depressing. It's heartbreaking.
Why the long face?
OK, screw this, I'm looking up some more of these people before I write another word, because I don't think I can handle coming across another name on my list only to have it lead to another dark ending. Power Rangers is such a happy, goofy TV show. It deserves a happy, goofy ending for its cast. Let's check in on Machiko Soga, who played one of the weirdest, most over-the-top villains in Ranger history: Rita Repulsa ...
Fuck. Me. Running.
Pancreatic cancer. Age 68. She had been battling it for two years, and when she died, it was totally alone. Her friend walked in to find her body. Hey, at least she was past retirement age. Too bad I can't say the same for Peta Rutter, who played the Mystic White Ranger. She died of a brain tumor at age 50. Oh, hey, here's a surprise: more cancer. This time, it's for Edward Albert, who played the Red Ranger's father, Mr. Collins. He died of lung cancer at 55.
Via Power Rangers Wikia
No, not Phil.
Jesus Christ. This isn't just a coincidence -- it's a full-blown curse. You may think I'm being dramatic for the sake of exaggerated comedy here, but I'm not. You can't turn jet black news like this into comedy. I don't even believe in curses, but the more I read, the more this is looking like a genuine, "someone pissed off a voodoo priest" spell. I mean, you could present the argument of, "It's a handful of deaths. It happens." But wait, I'm not even remotely close to being done.
Bob Papenbrook voiced Rito Revolto, Snizzard, Deviot, and a dozen other characters for several Power Rangers seasons and spinoffs. He died of chronic lung problems at age 50. And remember Professor Phenomenous Ingenious from Power Rangers In Space? Pneumonia took him at age 73. And that's not even counting several cast members who died for ... who knows?
For instance, Erik Frank played David Trueheart on Power Rangers Zeo. The character was the brother of Tommy Oliver, who is considered by many fans to be the greatest Ranger of all time. And those two were also real-life brothers. Erik died at age 29, and all research on his death just turns up "unspecified illness." Richard Rabago, who played Master Lee, died at age 68. And though you could assume that his could be listed as "natural causes," you won't find an actual reason anywhere. And you definitely can't say that Maurice Mendoza (who played Richie in the 1994 season) died from old age. He passed away at age 39, and you won't find a cause for that one, either.
Via Power Rangers Wikia
I'll just call it "awesome overload."
You're not even safe if you have bit roles. Alissa Ann Smego played the one-off part of "Shawna -- a friend who came to visit" in 1994. She had off-and-on parts in other shows throughout the 1990s and eventually had her own Internet-based cooking show. In 2013, at 38 years old, she was found in her apartment, having committed suicide.
Holy dick-shitting fuck. This is insane. What sort of Pandora fuckery have I opened here? And I know what you're thinking. "This curse can't all be premature deaths of cast members. That's crazy, but not that crazy. Death happens." And you're right. Here's an ex-cast member who murdered a couple of people.
I'm not even fucking kidding. His name is Skylar Deleon, and he played a bit role back when he was just a cute little kid. Seriously, look how adorable he is, trying and failing to kick a soccer ball:
That little boy grew up into a full-fledged psychopath. He pretended to be interested in buying a yacht from a couple in Arizona. Then when they took the boat out for a test drive, he beat them, tied them to the anchor, and dropped them overboard. Their bodies were never found, but we're not talking about "alleged" killings here. He admitted to the whole thing, as well as another murder from 2003. The only reason they went to court was to ask for life in prison, which he did not get. He was sentenced to death.
Are you erupting in a geyser of comedy joy yet? Oh, don't get fucking comfortable, because he's not the only cast member to straight-up kill a motherfucker.
Ricardo Medina Jr., who played 40 episodes as Cole Evans (Red Wild Force Ranger) and 24 episodes as the voice of Decker, was recently arrested for murder after he stabbed his roommate to death with a sword. No, seriously, a fucking sword. Again, we're not saying he "allegedly" killed him. He admits the whole thing happened. He's pleading self-defense, but he absolutely stabbed that guy to death.
So, there you go. I hope your childhood is now as completely buttfucked as mine, because it at least makes me feel a bit better that I'm not going through this trauma alone. If you read this thing with even a fraction of what I experienced in researching and writing it, we're now forever connected.
But if you don't mind, I'd like to be alone right now. I'm going to go sit in my closet with the door shut and cry until I black out from the emotional stress.
Relive the weirdest moments of Power Rangers history when you read The 9 Strangest Episodes In The History of 'Power Rangers,' but don't let that kill your hype for a Power Rangers movie. Find out why it will rock so hard in 4 Signs The 'Power Rangers' Movie Will Be Goddamn Insane.
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