Tell Me Something Good: From athlete to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Life in Hollywood might sound pretty romantic… until you consider what it took Mark Caso to become a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

I mean, it was brutal. It was like a hundred pounds of you know, animatronic gear, batteries, and all kinds of stuff. And when we were doing that stuff, we were all virtually blind.

Mark Caso

Mark Caso was hired as one of the “Heroes on a Half-Shell” based on his success in gymnastics. From East Syracuse Minoa High to UCLA. But his story seems even more heroic when you consider he suffered a broken neck as a college freshman and came back to earn all-America honors and success at the National Sports Festival and Pan Am Games. His athletic skill led to his being cast in 1991 as “The eldest of the ninja turtles, “Leonardo.”

Well, I was the captain of the UCLA national championship team in 1984. So, I don’t know, ha, you figure it out. Ha ha ha ha!

Mark Caso, “Leonardo”

Caso gives major credit for his athletic success to his upbringing here in Central New York.

The winters were brutal. So I went into the gym and because I wasn’t gonna be outside in the cold or whatever, so I bounced on the trampoline and played in the gym and got really good at it.

Mark Caso

More than thirty years after making his second Turtles movie, Mark Caso and his wife run Bruder Toys, manufacturing premium toys, which gives him a good vantage point to keep track of his past.

When I go shopping or go, I always check the toy aisle cuz I’m in the toy business, and there’s always an aisle dedicated to the Ninja Turtles. And it’s never going away. It’s a real thing.

And there’s a lot of people that will come up to me that know that I was a turtle, and they’ll say ‘you realize, you were my whole childhood! Ha ha.

Mark Caso, from CNY to Hollywood

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