During the mid-’90s, young kids across America were glued to their TV screens for the same reason. Jason (red), Trini (yellow), Zack (black), Kimberly (pink), Billy (blue), and Tommy (white) morphed into action fighting off evil antagonists. The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were and still are some of the most iconic crime-fighting characters to ever surface. In 2017, Lionsgate even created a reboot feature-length film to try and recapture the essence of the initial rangers. We may never recreate the excitement the first rangers brought to the world, but we can reminisce. Here are some intriguing facts about the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers you may not have known.
Seven Years Later…
Something many don’t know about Haim Saban is what he did before working on Power Rangers. The Mighty Morphin producer used to be a concert promoter, a theme song writer and producer of NBC’s Kidd Video. That all changed after Saban took a trip to Japan to meet with Animation Studios.
Out there he discovered Super Sentai. “He said to me, ‘We gotta do something with this. It’s so big in Japan, but nobody else around the world is looking at this stuff,'” said the show’s executive producer. Saban shopped the show around for seven years and people were calling him crazy in the process. Finally, Fox’s Children network became very interested.
What exactly is Super Sentai?…
It’s Based On A Japanese Show
Toei Studios created Super Sentai back in 1975. The first set lasted for two years, but then after that, the Rangers received a new theme each year. The kids in Japan got to watch five different casts of Rangers.
America’s version became based on the Beast Rangers of Dinosaur Corps, which is the 16th version of Toei’s. Toei chose that theme “to ride on the dinosaur fever generated by Jurassic Park.” That’s when the characters and the likeness got licensed to Saban Entertainment.
The Dino Rangers?
The original Power Rangers all morphed into some of the coolest, but terrifying creatures ever to walk this land. They had a Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Sabre-toothed Tiger, and even a Pterodactyl. All of those animals are from the prehistoric time and had something to do with dinosaurs.
Our favorite Pink Ranger, Kimberly Hart, revealed in an early interview that when the show started filming, they had called it Dino Rangers at the time before they changed the name to Power Rangers.
We Almost Didn’t Have Amy Jo Johnson
When you’re first starting in anything entertainment wise with no previous experience or connections, the road can be tough. Just ask Amy Jo Johnson, who described her first six months in Los Angeles as lonely and discouraging.
After breaking up with her boyfriend at the time, she sold all her things and decided to move back home, but the night before she left she met her future acting coach, Walter Rainey. Two weeks after returning home, Rainey called Johnson’s mom and requested that her daughter come back. She ended up in an acting class with the casting director for Power Rangers, and the rest is history.
They Have Casting Calls To Thank
As one would imagine, there were thousands of people who auditioned for this legendary show. Red Ranger Austin St. John said, “It was an open casting call and people just came in from everywhere and I was convinced there was not a chance in you-know-what I was ever going to get anywhere near this … and I was wrong.”
In the end, the casting directors narrowed it down to six groups of five teens. The pairings were a match made in heaven as the group began to get really close and they ultimately became the Rangers.
The Original Yellow Ranger
In the casting group that originally made the final cut, it also included a Yellow Ranger that many may not know. Her name is Audri DuBois, and she played Trini first. She had all the characteristics and making of a good ranger, but it didn’t go as planned.
The Black Ranger told Fusion that she was, “a really tough martial artist, she was really strong. She was Latin. Then she asked for more money, and after the pilot she got fired, and then they hired Thuy Trang.”
More Tommy, Please
Jason David Frank or the Green Ranger (who later became the White Ranger) was a late addition to the successful series. Before him, everyone thought they were fine without an extra guy. Then, Tommy came into our lives, and nothing was the same.
Tommy was originally only supposed to appear in a few episodes, but fans couldn’t let him go. After gaining such a massive fan following, he just became a permanent member of the show.
As Far As Fighting Goes…
The actors we saw in the suits weren’t always the people we saw doing the fighting on screen. No, they didn’t have stunt doubles, but that was because they didn’t need any. The show’s producers decided to keep the action sequences from the Japanese show. Due to that, the primary challenge was to align the storyline with the action.
The shows executive producer Shuki Levy said, “we’d get an episode where they were fighting some type of rubber-looking pig. We had no idea what the story was about, and so had to build our own around the Japanese footage.”
When It Came Time To Really Fight
There were, however, moments when the actors got to show off their talents and various skills. For the most part, the Rangers did most of the choreography themselves that same day of filming. That’s quite impressive if you think about it.
For more insight on how that might be, the Black Ranger revealed a little about it. He said it was something like, “do something cool with that bench,” and they would only have 30 minutes to prepare.
Zordon was always the man with the plan and gave the advice the Rangers needed to hear every single time. David Fielding, who did the voice of Zordon, said his inspiration was a mythical character like Zeus which is why he sounded like that when projecting his voice.
He was up against one other person and got the part after auditioning with the actors who played the Rangers. It wasn’t a regular gig, however. All he did was film one time for a few hours for budgetary reasons.
Fired, Then Hired Again
Imagine getting fired then hired again right after a role in Power Rangers. As lame as it sounds, the voice actress for Rita Repulsa got the boot for not having a witchy enough tone. Barbara Goodson wanted another shot so she asked if she could try something else.
However, by this time she was getting frustrated with the casting directors. “And at the point, I had already done the pilot,” Goodson said. “I came up with that [hoarse Rita] voice out of being annoyed, and it lasted for five years.”
The Show Had Incredible Levels Of Success
For a show that took seven years to pitch, the success rate was astounding. Power Rangers started filming in 1992, but it wouldn’t air until 1993. By the end of 1993, the show aired six days a week and became the top-ranked weekday show for kids aged 2-11.
“It’s beyond anyone’s expectations,” executive producer Haim Saban said at the time. “We’ve had so many parents write us, saying this show has created a bond between them and their kids.” That’s a great accomplishment in itself.
Doing Their Own Stunts
The Rangers already had to come up with their choreography as it is, but they also did their own stunts. The crazy part was how dangerous some of the tricks were. Moreover, they also didn’t have the greatest working conditions.
The Pink Ranger confessed to what they went through with Sharon Osbourne. “They would hang me over fire pits and things; it was very dangerous… We did a lot of very scary things.” She also said the helmet only had three holes in it, so it was hard to breathe.
Not Bringing In The Money
You know the money situation is bad when one of the actors admits that he could have worked a drive-thru window and made the same amount. You wouldn’t expect this to be the case for such a high-profile series, but it was the truth for at least one season.
Amy Jo Johnson revealed she and the other Rangers were only getting about $600 a week, max. Red Ranger, St. John said, “I could have worked the window at McDonald’s and probably made the same money the first season. It was disappointing, it was frustrating, it made a lot of us angry.”
The Red Ranger Wasn’t Even An Actor
How much luck do you have to have to land a role like this when you weren’t even looking for it or in the business? Austin St. John was in high school teaching martial arts on the side when a commercial-action coach mentioned auditions to him.
He told him, “You know, I’m really not interested in acting. I don’t like cameras. I don’t like large groups of people.” After three weeks the coach bet him $20 he wouldn’t be wasting his time, and St. John could sure use the $20 at the time.
David Yost Wanted To Be The Red Ranger
David Yost (the Blue Ranger) admitted that he originally auditioned for the part of the Red Ranger. He made it through the three auditions but felt the producers wanted to go in a different direction. He begged to read for the role of Billy, but they said no, and that’s when things got interesting.
“I went in the bathroom and wet my hair down and borrowed somebody’s glasses and shirt and buttoned it crooked and came back and said, ‘Please let me read for Billy,'” Yost said.
Working The Day Of A Devastating Earthquake
In 1994, there was a massive earthquake that hit in Los Angeles, the city where they filmed the Power Rangers. By this point, Thuy Trang (Yellow Ranger) and Johnson became terrific friends. They were having a sleepover the day it happened, and they said they still got called into work.
“We were all so young and alone in California … all these people were our home, basically, so it was kind of nice to all gather on that morning … just to make sure that everybody was OK,” Johnson said. She admitted it was still crazy, but it sounds like it turned out okay in the end.
The Theme Song Was Inspired By…
Theme songs are an integral part of many TV shows. They are what bring you in and make you stay. You’ll be walking around one day and then start humming the tune and instantly crave watching it. The Power Rangers theme song had an unusual inspiration.
“They said, ‘If you can, use the word go,’ and the reason being that they had such success 15 years prior with Inspector Gadget with ‘Go Gadget Go,'” composer Ron Wasserman told Complex. “I think they considered it a lucky word.”
Kids Couldn’t Get Enough Of The Toys
Toys are always a profitable component of any successful kids franchise. You’d only be hurting yourself if you didn’t manufacture them while your TV show or movie is the hottest thing in media. Kids will constantly beg their parents for a toy until they get one.
“The mania has prompted Toys ‘R’ Us to limit sales; some stores will sell only one action toy to a family. ‘Other than the Cabbage Patch craze of ’83,’ says the company’s chief executive, Michael Goldstein, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’”
The Movie Was Written As It Was Shot
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie film shot for five months out in Australia. It didn’t use any recycled Japanese footage either. “The film started off as a fairly modest project, around $18 million, and seemed to get bigger and bigger as we went along,” Paul Freeman, who played the film’s villain, Ivan Ooze, told the Los Angeles Times in 1995.
He said at one point; the producer would be sitting in the corner writing the script on her laptop during filming. The actors would also get handed rewrites in the middle of lines and told to “say this instead.”