Thuy Trang was beloved by millions after Mighty Morphin Power Rangers premiered in 1993, but the actress’ life ended in tragedy when she died after a car accident in 2001. She was 27.
According to reports, Trang had been traveling between San Francisco and Los Angeles with her friend Angela Rockwood, for whom she was to serve as a bridesmaid, when their vehicle — which was being driven by another bridesmaid — swerved off the road and hit the roadside rock face.
Now, as part of an extensive oral history in Entertainment Weekly’s recent issue celebrating the 25th anniversary of the hit Fox Kids series’ first season, the original Yellow Ranger’s castmates share memories of working with their friend.
“The command center used to be freezing cold,” original Red Ranger Austin St. John, 44, remembers of filming with Trang on one of the show’s main sets. “Wearing nothing but spandex, we were all cold. We used to hold each other just to stay warm and chat in between shooting scenes. It was like a brother-and-sister sort of thing.”
“We were really good friends. I was so proud of the work she was doing in films like The Crow! It hurt my heart to lose her. She was way too young and had so much more to share with the world,” adds original Black Ranger Walter Emanuel Jones, 48. “I remember how sweet Thuy was to people. She especially had a way with kids. Her energy drew you in, and her smile made your heart feel safe.”
Trang joined the Power Rangers cast after they shot the pilot, replacing original actress Audri Dubois. At her audition, she was randomly paired with Jason David Frank, who would be cast as the Green Ranger.
“I remember Thuy was always getting hurt on set,” says Frank, 45. “She put her all into the scenes, so sometimes things happen. I especially remember her having to be carried around a lot due to getting hurt. She was always so positive and gave her all. I’ll always remember that about her.”
St. John — who worked as a paramedic in Washington, D.C., and with the U.S. military as a healthcare provider in the Middle East for several years following his time on Power Rangers — says he wishes he could have attended Trang’s funeral, while others share that they found ways to keep her in their lives after her death.
“[Original Pink Ranger Amy Jo Johnson] was the person who called to tell me,” recalls original Blue Ranger David Yost, 49. “I was so shocked. I remember calling Thuy’s voicemail a few times after I found out just to hear her voice and leave her a message saying I’ll miss her. Learning about her early childhood and everything she and her family went through leaving Vietnam, becoming refugees and immigrating to the United States, I admired her and her family’s strength to rebuild their lives here. I’ll always remember her great laugh and infectious smile.”
“I’ll always remember her spunky, strong personality,” says Johnson, 48, who spoke at a service for Trang in 2001. “She was such a bright light. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.”