Director of "Rocky" dies at 81

Director of

Director of "Rocky" dies at 81

John Avildsen, the Oscar-winning director who made Hollywood's quintessential underdog story in the 1976 boxing saga Rocky with a then unknown Sylvester Stallone, and crafted another inspiring tale in The Karate Kid, died on Friday at age 81, his family said. The filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing Mr Avildsen's eldest son. He started his cine career as a cinematographer and shot his directorial debut, Turn on to Love in 1969.

A documentary, John G. Avildsen: King Of The Underdogs, won the docu prize at the Beverly Hills Film Festival this spring.

Avildsen's early films arrived at a time when America was struggling with the growing counterculture of the 1970s; his first major hit, the Peter Boyle-starring vigilante feature Joe, becoming a lightning rod with its depiction of a charismatic, violent "everyman" with a lethal hatred of hippies. "His directing, his passion, his toughness and his heart - a great heart - is what made "Rocky" the film it became", Stallone wrote in a statement.

"My friend sent me this [Rocky] script and got me to read it", Avildsen told the Birmingham, Ala., News in 2000. Lemmon won the Oscar as best actor for "Save the Tiger", while Jack Gilford got a supporting-actor nomination.

Stallone took to Instagram to pay tribute to Mr Avildsen, who helped usher the actor to stardom: "R. I. P". And although anyone would be fortunate to have made such a fantastic motion picture, even once in their lives, Rocky has perhaps overshadowed numerous filmmaker's other great accomplishments.

"As soon as the producers saw the business it was doing, they wanted to do it again", Avildsen said in a 1986 interview.

What is your favorite John G. Avildsen film?

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

The Karate Kid' actor, Ralph Macchio, also paid tribute to the great director and tweeted, "RIP to my friend and KK director John G Avildsen".

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