Charles Kalani (Prof. Toru Tanaka)

Charlie Kalani (Prof. Toru Tanaka) Actor, Wrestling Champion and Danzan-Ryu Black Belt.

Charles Kalani was born in Honolulu on Jan. 6, 1930. His father Charles J. Kalani was Hawaiian and his mother, Christina Leong Kalani was part Chinese.

He began his Jujutsu studies at Prof. Okazaki's Kodenkan in 1939.

He attended Iolani High School and excelled in sports. In 1948, after receiving a scholarship, Kalani left Hawaii and entered Weber Junior College (now Weber State University) in Ogden, UT. He met his future wife Doris at the University of Utah in 1952 and they were married in 1953. They have 3 children and were divorced in 1987.

Kalani was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1955 and served until 1966. He attained the rank of Sergeant. While in Germany, Kalani served along with John Chow-Hoon, also from Prof. Okazaki's dojo. He also was Chow-Hoon's Jujutsu teaching partner at the Monterey dojo.

After his Army service, Kalani entered professional wrestling in 1967 and took the stage name, Professor Toru Tanaka. During his wrestling career, he brought a lot of martial art experience to the ring. He won tag team championships in 1969, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1977 with a variety of partners, including Mr. Fuji, Dr. Hiro Ota, Mitsu Arakawa and Assasin #2.

Also, as Professor Toru Tanaka, Kalani acted in a number of films. Notable among these are: Perfect Weapon (with Jeff Speakman), Running Man and Last Action Hero (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Missing in Action 2 (with Chuck Norris). He has also appeared in a number of television series, including Airwolf, The A-Team, The Fall Guy and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. Below is a complete list of his films:

Professor Toru Tanaka Chronological Filmography:

Update (9/18/2000): Charlie Kalani died of a heart attack on Aug. 22, 2000 in Lake Forest, CA. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Doris Peterson Kalani, daughters Cheryle Kalani and Karen Kalani-Beck, son Carl, sisters Jeanette and Charlene, brother Robert, and six grandchildren.

Here is the text of his obituary from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of 9/15/2000:

Charlie Kalani, 70,
remembered as
versatile actor

The island-born wrestler
was a street kid getting into
trouble until Iolani saved
him, his wife says

By Rod Ohira

Hawaii-born professional wrestler and actor Charles "Charlie" Kalani is best known as a villain.

But in real life, an Iolani School football coach, the Rev. Kenneth Bray, saved Kalani from turning into a bad guy.

"Attending Iolani turned his life around," the former Doris Peterson said about her husband of 47 years, who died Aug. 22 of a heart attack in Lake Forest, Calif., at age 70.

"He was a street kid getting into trouble and would have ended up in reform school if Father Bray hadn't helped him out by bringing him to Iolani. He felt Iolani saved him."

Kalani, who began wrestling in 1967 as "Professor Toru Tanaka," also appeared in more than 20 films -- most notably "Perfect Weapon," "Running Man," "Last Action Hero" and "Missing in Action 2" -- and television series such as "Airwolf," "The A-Team" and "The Fall Guy."

Contrary to his real-life personality, Kalani always portrayed a villain.

"He was just a gentle, good, soft-hearted island boy," Doris Kalani said. "And he had to work very hard all his life.

"It was hard not to be bitter when he got into wrestling and show business because he had to change his personality. He always told our kids, 'I'm your father at home and other people will not know the real me.' "

Kalani was a tackle and place-kicker in football. After graduating from Iolani in 1949, he attended Weber Junior College in Ogden, Utah, where he met his wife in 1952.

Sol Naumu of Pearl City attended Compton College and recalls playing against his former Iolani teammate and good friend.

"Charlie was playing linebacker and I remember going through the line and him hitting me hard," Naumu said.

"Then he stole the ball from me and ran for a touchdown.

"Everybody thought I gave him the ball."

Naumu, who last visited with his friend in 1998, described Kalani as "an easygoing guy, always kidding people."

"He was a happy Hawaiian from Waimanalo," he added. "He was very kind and compassionate but if you got him mad, watch out."

Kalani was drafted in 1955 and discharged in 1966 as an Army sergeant.

He began jujutsu studies in 1939 and held the rank of Danzan-Ryu Black Belt.

Survivors, all of whom live in California, include his wife, daughters Cheryle Kalani and Karen Kalani-Beck, son Carl, sisters Jeanette and Charlene, brother Robert, and six grandchildren.

The family plans to honor Kalani's request to have his ashes scattered at sea in Hawaii later this year.

Other Images of Charlie Kalani

Charlie Kalani at age 9 in Honolulu.

Charlie Kalani in 1949.

Charlie Kalani in 1951 playing football at the University of Utah.

Charlie Kalani in 1953 in Utah as the heavyweight boxing contender.

Charlie and Doris Kalani in 1954.

Charlie Kalani in his judo gi teaching at the school of John Chow-Hoon.

Charlie Kalani as Prof. Toru Tanaka in 1977 wearing one of his championship belts.

Prof. Toru Tanaka and his tag-team partner Mr. Fuji in 1977.

Charlie Kalani as Prof. Toru Tanaka strike an fearsome posture.

Charlie Kalani and Tony Janovich at the 1994 Ohana.

Charlie Kalani at the 1997 Okazaki Championships.

Charlie Kalani at home in 1997.

This page maintained by George Arrington.

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See additional comments about Charlie Kalani in the July 1995 Letter from the Editor.