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With 'Rocky' and 'The Karate Kid,' John G. Avildsen beat the odds

Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.. Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died Friday of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai.... Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.. Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died Friday of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai.... Despite his facility with actors, Avildsen wasn’t afraid to clash with his collaborators in front of the camera or behind it. Off-screen disputes may have been at least partly to blame for the fiasco of “The Formula,” his dead-on-arrival 1980 thriller starring Marlon Brando and George C. Scott.

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CBS News -
"Rocky" director John G. Avildsen dies at 81

A documentary on Avildsen, "John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs," premiered earlier this year at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Among other Oscar nominations for "Rocky" were two for Stallone, Best Actor and Best Screenplay; plus Best Actress, Talia Shire; Best Supporting Actor, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young; and Best Song, "Gonna Fly Now.". Avildsen directed other major stars: Burt Reynolds in "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" (1975); George C. Scott and Marlon Brando in "The Formula" (1980); Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in "Neighbors" (1981); and Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me" (1989). He had been hired to direct "Saturday Night Fever" after his success with "Rocky," but was let go amid differences over his desire to make the story more upbeat than the producers had in mind.


LA Times -
'Rocky' director John G. Avildsen dies at 81

Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen, whose “Rocky” sent a shot of adrenaline through movie theaters and turned Sylvester Stallone into one of cinema’s most unforgettable boxers, has died at 81.. Avildsen’s eldest son, Anthony, said the filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

He won best director for “Rocky” (1976), the tale of Rocky Balboa’s gritty and unlikely transcendence from the streets of South Philadelphia, and was also known for “The Karate Kid” (1984), the story of a restless teenager and his Okinawan martial arts mentor.


Fox News -
Director John Avildsen dies at 81; won Oscar for `Rocky'

Among other Oscar nominations for "Rocky" were two for Stallone, best actor and best screenplay; plus best actress, Talia Shire; best supporting actor, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young; and best song, "Gonna Fly Now.". Avildsen directed other major stars: Burt Reynolds in "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" (1975); George C. Scott and Marlon Brando in "The Formula" (1980); Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in "Neighbors" (1981); and Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me" (1989). He had been hired to direct "Saturday Night Fever" after his success with "Rocky," but was let go amid differences over his desire to make the story more upbeat than the producers had in mind.


New York Times -
John Avildsen, Director of ‘Rocky’ and ‘The Karate Kid,’ Dies at 81

John G. Avildsen, who as the director of “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid” created pop culture touchstones by telling stories of down-and-out characters finding triumph, died on Friday in Los Angeles.

Highlighting interviews with Mr. Stallone, the director Martin Scorsese and the “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio, it’s called: “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs.”


NBC News -
John Avildsen, director who won Oscar for "Rocky," dead at 81

John G. Avildsen, who directed "Rocky" and "The Karate Kid" — two dark-horse, underdog favorites that went on to become Hollywood franchises — died Friday at age 81.

Among other Oscar nominations for "Rocky" were two for Stallone, best actor and best screenplay; plus best actress, Talia Shire; best supporting actor, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young; and best song, "Gonna Fly Now.". Avildsen directed other major stars: Burt Reynolds in "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" (1975); George C. Scott and Marlon Brando in "The Formula" (1980); Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in "Neighbors" (1981); and Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me" (1989). He had been hired to direct "Saturday Night Fever" after his success with "Rocky," but was let go amid differences over his desire to make the story more upbeat than the producers had in mind.



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