Director John Avildsen dies at 81; won Oscar for 'Rocky'

17 June, 2017, 11:22 | Author: Ruben Patrick
  • John G. Avildsen, 'Rocky,' 'The Karate Kid' Director, Dead at 81

John G Avildsen, who won an Oscar for directing the 1976 "Rocky", starring Sylvester Stallone, has passed away. He was battling pancreatic cancer and was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Avildsen came up the hard way in films, starting with a long apprenticeship as assistant director, then moved up to production manager, cinematographer and editor.

A documentary on Avildsen, "John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs", premiered earlier this year at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Avildsen directed Susan Sarandon and Peter Boyle in the ultimately violent drama Joe in the year 1970.

His next film, The Karate Kid in 1984, triumphed with an underdog theme similar to Rocky, as a bullied teenager played by Ralph Macchio overcame the odds with the help of a wise martial arts master, played by Pat Morita.

For his part, Avildsen said Capra, who also championed underdogs on film, was his favourite director.

RIP to my friend and KK director John G Avildsen.

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John Avildsen died today.

Other directing credits include 1981's dark comedy Neighbors starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and 1989's Lean On Me with Morgan Freeman as a tough inner-city school principal with a heart of gold.

Surprisingly, Avildsen only took the job because he didn't get funding for another movie he was set to direct, he said in an interview in 2000, "My friend sent me this ("Rocky") script and got me to read it, And on the third page, this guy is talking to his turtles, and I was hooked".

Rocky was made for a modest $1 million United States and generated $225 million in ticket sales to became a cultural phenomenon, with a series of unforgettable characters and scenes and a blend of romance with pugilistic action. Thanks for so much John G. Avildsen. The film was loved by teens and got Morita, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Besides Anthony, Avidsen is survived by two other sons, Jonathan and Ashley, and a daughter, Bridget.

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