John Avildsen, director of Rocky and The Karate Kid, dies aged 81

Posted June 17, 2017

In a statement, his son Anthony Avildsen described him as an extraordinary man who was super talented and very stubborn, which was like a double-edged quality about him.

Sylvester Stallone in 1976's "Rocky", directed by John G. Avildsen.

Avildsen, the Oscar-winning director of Rocky, has died aged 81. The renowned director directed the popular movie Rocky and the first three parts of original Karate Kid movies. It was a box-office failure and got a bad response from critics.

Actors Ralph Macchio, left, and Pat Morita are shown in a scene from The Karate Kid. No one had placed much money on the film telling the story of a bullied teenager who learns karate.

He relented and directed both "The Karate Kid, Part II" in 1986 and "The Karate Kid, Part III" in 1989. An all-rounder, Avildsen was also a cinemtographer and editor.

His other films included comedy "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" (1975), starring Burt Reynolds; thriller "The Formula" (1980), starring George C. Scott and Marlon Brando; eerie comedy "Neighbors", starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd; pregnancy comedy "For Keeps?".

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"Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans", the Directors Guild of America wrote in a statement Friday.

He came from a humble background and even worked in the Army.

Avildsen has two other films on his resume that are always worth watching. (1988), starring Molly Ringwald; drama "Lean on Me" (1989), which helped launch Morgan Freeman's career; and bull riding biopic "8 Seconds" (1994), starring Luke Perry.

Avildsen received another Oscar nomination in 1983 for directing the documentary short Traveling Hopefully. Coyle reported from NY.

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