Los Angeles John G. Avildsen, who won an Oscar for directing the 1976 hit Rocky , starring Sylvester Stallone, has passed away. He was 81.
Avildsen died of pancreatic cancer at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, his son, Anthony, told the Los Angeles Times.
His other most memorable works include first three original Karate Kid movies, in which he directed Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Avildsen rose to prominence with the 1970 violent drama Joe , which earned critical acclaim for its star Peter Boyle, who played Joe Curran, a racist factory worker who hates “hippies and blacks.” The film also featured Susan Sarandon.
This was followed by another critical success of his career, Save the Tiger , which bagged three nominations at the 46th Academy Awards, winning best actor for its lead Jack Lemmon. The film was about moral conflict in contemporary America.
He last directed the 1999 action film Inferno starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Danny Trejo and Pat Morita. The film was a remake of and a self-conscious tribute to Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s film Yojimbo .
Stallone, who also worked with Avildsen in Rocky V , took to Instagram to pay tribute to the veteran filmmaker.
“R. I. P. I’m sure you will soon be directing Hits in Heaven— Thank you , Sly,” Stallone wrote.
Avildsen is survived by his daughter, Bridget, and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley.