Chances are that if you were a kid in the neon lights of the early 1990s, you were probably a fan of Saban’s “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.” The quirky martial arts show that reused old footage from a Japanese TV series and repackaged it for American youngsters was a surprise hit when it premiered on Fox Kids in 1993, and the influence it had on many of those kids who are now adults is still pretty pronounced.
Now that there’s a fair amount of distance between today and the years in which the first cast had become so popular, we’ve started to hear stories of what it was like to actually make this show, and all of the difficulties that went into it. With an exceedingly young cast, a shoestring budget, and the creation of a very popular toy line, “Power Rangers” was kind of an oddity that was pretty unbalanced between what money it was making, and what money it would invest in its own production.
Recently, we’ve gained some further insight into what it was like to make the show due to an in-depth interview with several former cast members at the Huffington Post. Original cast members Austin St. John (Jason/Red Ranger), David Yost (Billy/Blue Ranger), Walter Jones (Zack/Black Ranger) and David Fielding (Zordon) participated, in addition to later addition Karan Ashley (Aisha/2nd Yellow Ranger). All of them share some interesting stories from behind the scenes, some of them being good, others being…less than good.
For instance, did you know that the original cast was paid so poorly in the first season that Austin St. John thought he could make better money elsewhere?
We weren’t paid a lot, at all. I could have worked the window at McDonalds and probably made the same money the first season. It was disappointing, it was frustrating, it made a lot of us angry. [Producer Haim Saban] just had absolutely zero conscience about making billions using our faces because it was his idea and he owned it. He felt like, screw us. I don’t want to put works in his mouth but he could not have cared less about making all this money, because he had this ownership. The hell with everybody else who was helping him make that money. That’s the way it’s always been.
How about the fact that all of Zordon’s footage was shot in a single day? Actor David Fielding recalls,
For budgetary reasons they never filmed the character again. They just reused the footage over and over. And from a production standpoint, that is great. From an actor’s standpoint … They shaved all my hair off and glued my ears back. And used makeup to make my eyebrows stand out, and then painted the top half of my chest and shoulders green. I sat in front of a green screen while they filmed me because they were just going to use my head and that was it. My recollection is that I was in the chair for three or four hours. Just going over the lines, doing it a number of times and also doing a number of pickups where they would just film my reactions: turning of the head, looking this way, or looking down.
Did you know that David Yost felt he had to leave the show because of attitudes toward his sexuality?
People would say things and there were rumors about my sexuality on set. Or people would make up lies about things I was doing and it would just become upsetting. Because I just wanted to go to work and do my job. I didn’t think it was anybody’s business what I was doing in my personal life. I can honestly say I wasn’t doing anything in my personal life. I wasn’t dating anybody or any of that. I do know that a couple of my co-stars were questioned about my sexuality at one point and that was really upsetting to me.
If you are or were a fan of the Power Rangers, chances are you’ll find at leas one factoid that you weren’t aware of before. Head on over to HuffPo for the full interview, and see what other morphenomenal facts you can learn about a staple of kids’ TV in the 1990s!
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