He’s the best one ever. He’s worn Green, White, Red, and Black. He’s Tommy Oliver, the original Green Ranger. His real name is Jason David Frank, and he’s as good of a person as his starring role would make you believe.
All of us who have seen Power Rangers have questioned the characterization of the Rangers. There’s no real conflict among them. They’re all perfect, wonderful human beings, who always do the right thing in the end, while still living an incredibly eventful, action-packed life even when they aren’t fighting evil space aliens. They are, in a word, unbelievable.
But in 2014, at New York Comic Con, I was fortunate enough to meet Frank, who has been a personal hero for most of my life. Frank proved himself to be just as good as the character he made famous, albeit much funnier. The Tommy Oliver character could always be relied on to use his fighting prowess to save the day, even when the other Rangers were down. And Frank’s incredible martial arts skills were often on full display, inspiring me and many others to take lessons. My years in martial arts — learning not only how to defend myself, but how to live — shaped who I am today. Frank himself teaches martial arts at his Rising Sun Karate school and helps to shape hundreds of young martial artists.
But Frank understands he isn’t known for being a martial arts black belt. He gets that Power Rangers is what made him famous, and he counts it as a blessing.
There is no resentment from Frank about his career being defined by the Power Rangers. In fact, he embraces it, wearing a white tiger power coin as a necklace and often putting a green streak in his hair to symbolize his character’s most famous incarnation. Frank has even returned to the show several times, including an anniversary episode, “Forever Red,” on Power Rangers Wild Force, and in a regular turn as a mentor on Power Rangers Dino Thunder, where he gained new powers as the Black Dino Ranger. Frank also returned in the finale of a recent season, Super Megaforce, this time as the “OG,” (Original Green) Green Ranger. The actor is well aware of his status as the face of the franchise, and he loves the responsibility. Frank has even been pushing to be more involved in Saban’s Golden Goose going forward.
Frank has hinted in the past that he and Saban were working together on a series exclusively following the Green Ranger. In his NYCC panel in 2014, Frank announced that these talks were on hold until Lionsgate determined how to handle the cinematic reboot of the series. No updates have been made available since the film’s release. Frank also admitted that discussions were ongoing about further involvement in Power Rangers projects.
The man known as Tommy has also utilized his fame as a Power Ranger to run a show on YouTube, hosted by Bat in the Sun, that follows his everyday life. My Morphin Life takes fans into the day-to-day activities of everybody’s favorite Ranger as he teaches his martial arts classes, sets world records, and travels the world to attend conventions.
Like we would expect from Tommy Oliver, Frank lives his life fearlessly, fighting in mixed martial arts matches and skydiving regularly. In My Morphin Life, Frank admits he fears two things: clowns and, believe it or not, hot air balloons. And as if the episode were written by the good people at Saban, Frank confronted his fears in an incredible way: by diving out of a hot air balloon, dressed as a clown.
Everywhere he goes, Frank is greeted as a hero, and he treats his fans with complete respect. In his YouTube show, Frank travels to Brazil and attends a convention, where he is blown away by the love he receives. It’s not just an act for a show either; at New York Comic Con, Tommy Oliver’s kind personality was hard to miss.
The Green Ranger’s autograph line appeared to be the longest in the room, despite hefty competition from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and the voice of Batman himself, Kevin Conroy. The wait was worth it. Meeting my hero for the first time, I was profusely thankful to the man and told him how much his simple role in a kids’ show influenced by life. He was incredibly respectful and thankful in return, which is to be expected, but he rose above and beyond soon after.
I was on my way out of the convention center when I heard my name being shouted. It was Frank, who followed me to give me the autographs I had forgotten on my way out. It was an incredible moment that felt like it came straight out of an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Frank explained during his panel the next day his philosophy on life. Simply put: treat everyone equally, and treat them all well. As a celebrity, he thinks every interview has value, whether it’s on CNN or with an upstart website like Uproot. Frank doesn’t expect appearance fees and isn’t looking for a big studio to produce My Morphin Life. He simply wants to have fun and keep his fans updated.
Jason David Frank is a man who loves his fans, loves his craft, and enjoys sharing it all. His autograph lines were long and the audience for his panel was huge, but he made sure that everybody got his or her money’s worth. He is thankful for his fame and will continue to give his heart and soul in everything he does. I know this fan looks forward to seeing him on television again.