General Hospital's Sean Kanan had 'minutes left to live' after film set injury

Darcy Rafter May 4, 2022
General Hospital's Sean Kanan had 'minutes left to live' after film set injury
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You may know Sean Kanan best for portraying A. J. Quartermaine on General Hospital or Deacon Sharpe on The Bold And The Beautiful and The Young And The Restless. You probably didn’t know that he was a karate pro and landed a role as Mike Barnes in The Karate Kid Part III.

In 1986, when Sean heard that another Karate Kid sequel was coming, he had his heart set on the role. During his two years studying political science at Boston University he attended acting classes and landed a part in ABC’s Spenser: For Hire.

After transferring to UCLA in his junior year, he hired a manager and landed an open casting call for The Karate Kid Part III. At the time he was just a young green belt who was up against 2,000 other martial arts applicants wanting the part.

What Sean didn’t know, that was by taking the role in The Karate Kid Part III, he was risking his life.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

General Hospital’s Sean Kanan had ‘minutes left to live’

In 1988 Sean Kanan, 22, had two weeks of filming The Karate Kid Part III in LA before they went on Christmas break. Kanan and his girlfriend at the time headed for Las Vegas and were staying at the Dunes Hotel. Just as Kanan was about to play on a slot machine he said, “I think I’m going to faint” and dropped to the floor unconscious.

Paramedics tried to raise his worryingly low blood pressure during the 10-minute drive to Humana Hospital-Sunrise and upon arrival, doctors discovered Kanan had half a gallon of blood in his abdomen, as a result of heavy internal bleeding. His mother, Michele Perelman who is an estate agent was with her husband, Dale, in New Castle celebrating Christmas Eve with their neighbours when they got a call that Sean had collapsed. As Soap Opera Digest reports, Sean’s mother recalls the doctor saying that he had no more than 10-15 minutes to live because he was bleeding internally so badly.

What was Sean Kanan’s injury from?

Kanan’s injury came from a scene he filmed four days prior where he had to plunge himself seven feet and land on his stomach. This action was to imitate him being thrown through a door and Kanan did 20 takes. He was left bruised and took aspirin to ease the pain but this made the abdominal haemorrhage worsen. After hearing of his injury Kanan was worried about not being able to complete the movie as he needed an hour-long surgery to repair a tear in his abdominal wall. The actor even exclaimed “I don’t have time for an operation,” to which a doctor replied, “I don’t even know if we can save your life.”

Thankfully they could, and a day after the operation Kanan began to walk, worried that “if I didn’t get out of bed, I would lose the part.” Sean’s mom also recalls walking the hospital hallways with Sean with hopes of him being discharged early.

Kanan begged the director, John G Avildsen, not to recast his role and to re-schedule the shooting to which he agreed. Once back on the set Kanan insisted on doing his own karate scenes…Pretty brave if you ask us, right?

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Darcy is an experienced journalist working on GRV Media’s audience team across The Focus, Reality Titbit, and HITC. Darcy studied Media and Communications at Goldsmiths University and whilst there she completed a work internship with GRV Media. After gaining a first-class BA (Hons) degree, Darcy joined the team full-time. Since then she has become a social media specialist and her expertise lies in tracking trends. With five years of experience in media, she is particularly passionate about celebrity culture and entertainment. When she’s not writing about The Kardashians, she’s binge-watching it!