Oscar-winning 'Rocky' director John G. Avildsen dies of cancer

John G. Avildsen, 'Rocky,' 'The Karate Kid' Director, Dead at 81

John G. Avildsen, 'Rocky,' 'The Karate Kid' Director, Dead at 81

Calling Avildsen "my friend" along with a collage of photos, Macchio says the director "brought inspirational stories to us all and had a guiding hand in changing my life".

Avildsen, who won the Best Director Oscar for 1977's Best Picture victor Rocky that introduced the world to Sylvester Stallone, and who later helmed three Karate Kid movies, has died in Los Angeles. He not only directed the 1984 original but returned for two sequels: The Karate Kid Part II in 1986 and The Karate Kid Part III in 1989.

The franchise, The Karate Kid (1984), which starred Pat Morita as an Okinawan martial arts master who agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager, brought in nearly a quarter-billion dollars at the Box Office. His earlier films, "Rocky" and "Save The Tiger" helped influence my adolescence.

"Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans", said Paris Barclay, president of the Directors Guild of America, of the late director in a statement.

Rocky was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three, with Stallone taking the best actor award. 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. 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. In 1983, he got an Oscar nomination for his documentary Traveling Hopefully. "It's better not to be doing something you don't want to do", Avildsen told the Los Angeles Times after he departed from the project.

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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".

Other now-classic films include The Karate Kid and Lean on Me.

John Avildsen is survived by sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley; and daughter, Bridget.

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