Oscar-winning director John Avildsen dies at 81
John Avildsen, the Oscar-winning director whose blockbuster films like “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid” championed the ascent of underdogs dies at 81.
The filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing Avildsen’s eldest son.
The 1976 hit “Rocky”, an adrenaline-pumping story that captures the rise of a down-and-out boxer from working-class Philadelphia earned Avildsen an Oscar for best director.
The tight-budget drama was a sleeper hit, propelling actor Sylvester Stallone to Hollywood fame and growing into a beloved franchise.
Avildsen returned to direct just one of his original film’s six sequels, Rocky V.
The film centers on a bullied teenager who gains confidence after learning karate from a Japanese handyman, the filmmaker also directed the box-office winner “The Karate Kid.” Released in 1984
Avildsen went on to direct both “The Karate Kid, Part II” in 1986 and “The Karate Kid, Part III” in 1989.
President of the Directors Guild of America, of the late director in a statement, Paris Barclay said, “Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans.”
Stallone took to Instagram to pay tribute to Avildsen, who helped usher the actor to stardom: “R. I. P. I’m sure you will soon be directing Hits in Heaven- Thank you, Sly.”