Sunday, June 18, 2017
On Friday, US director John G. Avildsen, best known for directing the 1976 film Rocky for which he won an Academy Award for the Best Director and the 1980s The Karate Kid trilogy, died at the age of 81. His son, Anthony, told the Los Angeles Times that Avildsen died due to pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.
Actors Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Carl Weathers, Joe Manganiello, Thaao Penghlis; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CEO Gary Barber and Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay paid tribute to Avildsen.
Raised in Oak Park, Illinois, Avildsen began his cinematography career with advertising agencies. He later served as an assistant director for filmmakers like Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger.
Avildsen directed his first film Turn on to Love, which was released in 1969. A year later, he directed Joe and in 1973, he directed Save the Tiger starring Jack Lemmon. Lemmon won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the 1973 movie.
Avildsen directed Rocky in 1976, starring Stallone, which won three Academy Awards, including the Best Picture and the Best Director. Fourteen years later he directed Rocky V. He directed the first three films of The Karate Kid, all starring Macchio and Pat Morita in the 1980s.
Avildsen also directed W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings in 1975, Neighbors in 1981, 1989 film Lean on Me, and the 1994 film 8 Seconds. 1999’s Inferno was his last movie.
Avildsen’s accomplishments were documented in this year’s documentary film John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.