Billy Wayne Blanks (born September 1, 1955) is an American fitness guru, martial artist, actor, and the creator of the Tae Bo exercise program.
Early life and education:
Blanks was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, the fourth of fifteen children.
Blanks began his study of the martial arts at the age of eleven, attending karate and tae kwon do classes. He was born with an anomaly in his hip joints that impaired his movement, and a clumsiness that earned him the taunts of his siblings and caused his instructors to believe that he would never accomplish much. Blanks found the answer to these challenges in karate. When he saw Bruce Lee on TV, he decided he wanted to be a world martial-arts champion. The discipline of the program began to transform his body.
Blanks was hired as a bodyguard for lead actress Catherine Bach during the filming of 1988's Driving Force, due to the political unrest in Manila at the time; he impressed the producers so much, they wrote him into the script. This led to Blanks' work in several martial arts films, including King of the Kickboxers and the first Bloodfist. Perhaps his most recognizable role to mainstream audiences is in the opening scene of Tony Scott's The Last Boy Scout, where he plays a doomed pro-football player. Blanks also appeared as the kickboxing instructor to Ashley Judd's character in Kiss the Girls.
In the late 1980s, Blanks developed the Tae Bo workout, while running a karate studio in Quincy, Massachusetts. He used components of his martial arts and boxing training. The name is a portmanteau of tae kwon do and boxing. Blanks opened a fitness center in Los Angeles to teach his new workout. He later attracted some celebrity clients such as Paula Abdul, and the popularity of the workout quickly grew, becoming a pop culture phenomenon after Blanks began releasing mass-marketed videos. The popularity of the workout later waned, but Blanks still attracts many celebrity clients, and Tae Bo videos and DVDs have continued to sell well.
Blanks is a Christian and released a special line of Tae Bo workouts called the "Believer's" series that includes motivational prayers and other Christian components. He has appeared on the Christian television network TBN.
Blanks married Gayle H. Godfrey, whom he met in karate class. Gayle's daughter, Shellie, born on October 13, 1973, was adopted shortly after they married. Shellie Blanks Cimarosti, now an accomplished martial artist, is prominently featured in almost all of Blanks' Tae Bo videos and has recently produced her own video called Tae Bo Postnatal Power, as well as hosted her father's new infomercial Tae Bo T3 (Total Transformation Training). Gayle and Blanks also have a son, Billy Blanks, Jr., who works as a dancer, singer and fitness instructor, having produced several best-selling DVDs, including Cardioke and Fat Burning Hip Hop Mix. He has also starred in a touring production of the musical Fame, and has worked as a dancer in music videos with Madonna, Quincy Jones and Paula Abdul.
Blanks and Godfrey were divorced in 2008 after 33 years of marriage. According to the Petition for Legal Separation filed by her on April 22, 2008 in Los Angeles Superior Court, she and Blanks had been separated since September 25, 2007. The reason given in the petition for the separation is "irreconcilable differences."
In November 2008, Blanks became the father of a new daughter, named Angelika. The mother is his Japanese interpreter at the time, Tomoko Sato, whom he has known since 2007. Blanks and Sato's marriage was formally registered in January 2009 and their wedding ceremony was held on June 20, 2009. He has also adopted his new wife's two daughters, Marriett and Erika Peterson.
Jack & Jill
Dance Club: The Movie
dance club dancer
Kiss the Girls
Assault on Devil's Island
Balance of Power
aka Hidden Tiger
Expect no Mercy
Tough and Deadly
Back in Action
Zhan long zai ye
Talons of the Eagle
The Last Boy Scout
The King of the Kickboxers
China O'Brien II
Baskin's fighter #1
Tango & Cash
The Fairly OddParents
Episode: Kung Timmy
Episode: Taking Tae-bo with my Beau
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license