dglobalnews.com Director John Avildsen dies at 81; won Oscar for 'Rocky'
Published: Sat, June 17, 2017
Culture&Arts | By Orlando Mckenzie

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

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

The Karate Kid was another surprise hit in 1984, telling the story of a bullied teenager played by Ralph Macchio who learns about self-confidence through the study of karate with the help of a Japanese handyman (Noryuki "Pat" Morita).

Avildsen won the Academy award for Best Director when he directed Rocky that generated $225 million in domestic ticket sales and created an unforgettable cultural phenomenon.

What is your favorite John G. Avildsen film?

"My friend sent me this [Rocky] script and got me to read it", Avildsen told the Birmingham, Ala., News in 2000.

Avildsen started in the business as a cinematographer, lensing seven films from the mid-'60s to the early '70s, including his feature directorial debut "Turn on to Love" (1969) and subsequent helming efforts "Guess What We Learned in School Today", "Joe", "Cry Uncle", "Okay Bill" and "The Stoolie" (1972), starring Jackie Mason. "He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment but also often to his benefit", he said.

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In a 1992 interview, Avildsen outlined his view of filmmaking. This time, when the chance to stay on for a massively lucrative film franchise presented itself, Avildsen took it, directing The Karate Kid Part II and Part III as well.

Hollywood is mourning the death of John G. Avildsen.

"My hope as a film-maker is to make people feel a little differently about something when they leave the theatre", Avildsen told the Los Angeles Times in 1971. Three years later, Avildsen helmed Save the Tiger, which earned Jack Lemmon an Academy Award for his portrayal of a fashion executive embroiled in an existential crisis. To this day, I can still remember being in the movie theater watching Daniel Larusso, despite all odds, defeat that blonde-haired jerk Johnny with one kick and win the tournament. The director of the inspirational dramas Rocky, The Karate Kid and Lean On Me has died at the age of 81. "And the opposite would be too depressing".

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

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