June 26, 2017

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

18 June 2017, 02:02 | Israel Caldwell

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

Sylvester Stallone’s emotional ode to his late Rocky director John Avildsen I’m sure you will soon be directing Hits in Heaven

His son Anthony Avildsen confirmed the news of his death and said that the oscar winning director died of pancreatic cancer.

Rocky proved to be as much of an underdog success story as the fictional Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa portrayed by Stallone, who wrote the screenplay.

John G. Avildsen won an Academy Award for Best Director for Rocky, over a spectacular list of nominees including Ingmar Bergman, Sidney Lumet, Alan J. Pakula and Lina Wertmuller.

Ralph Macchio, who acted in The Karate Kid echoed similar sentiments, describing Avildsen's work as an inspiration during his teenage years.

The film about a martial arts master who teaches karate to a bullied teenager, was a summer box office hit.

MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber said: "We mourn the loss of John G. Avildsen, one of America's treasured filmmakers". I will miss him.

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He directed a few small films and then broke through with "Joe" (1970).

Avildsen accepts the Academy Award for directing "Rocky" in 1977.

The acclaimed 1989 film Lean on Me was Avildsen's first film based on a real person. When he was offered the director's chair for Rocky Part II, though, Avildsen turned it down; he later called that decision "one of my greatest mistakes". All of these films are impressive dramas that showed just how deft Avildsen was at turning realistic situations into emotionally satisfying motion pictures.

In fact, when Avildsen first read the script for The Karate Kid, he dubbed it "The KaRocky Kid", according to The New York Times.

In a 1992 interview, Avildsen outlined his view of filmmaking: "I don't see my films as following any strict formula — even if many of them do have a similar theme". For over 40 years, the enduring classic underdog story about an every man overcoming all odds defined generations of moviegoers.

Thank you, John G. Avildsen, for inspiring us to never give up. "And the opposite would be too depressing". He is survived by daughter Bridget and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley, reported Variety.

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