Director John G. Avildsen, who won an Oscar for helming the original "Rocky" starring Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone and also directed all three of the original "Karate Kid" films, is dead. He was 81.
The director died here, a representative confirmed his death, reports variety.com.
Avildsen also won the Directors Guild of America Award (DGA Award) for directing "Rocky", which also won Oscars for Best Picture and Film Editing and was nominated in multiple other categories.
In 1983 he was Oscar nominated again, this time for the documentary short film "Traveling Hopefully."
The Director's Guild released a statement, saying: "We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of beloved director John Avildsen. His iconic 'Rocky,' which won the DGA Feature Film Award in 1976, has been lionized throughout our culture as the quintessential underdog story - a recurring theme in his notable body of work which included 'Save the Tiger' and 'The Karate Kid' franchise.
"Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans."
He served on the DGA's National Board for three terms, on the DGA's Eastern Directors Council from 1977-1990, on the Western Directors Council from 1992-1994, and was a member of the 1987 and 1996 DGA Negotiating Committees.
Avildsen developed a reputation for making movies about losers, or underdogs, who somehow become winners.
Avildsen's other films included the critically hailed drama-thriller "Joe" (1970), starring Susan Sarandon and Peter Boyle. It was his first success as a director, and was praised for Peter Boyle's performance.
Avildsen started in the business as a cinematographer, lensing seven films from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, including his feature directorial debut "Turn on to Love" and subsequent helming efforts "Guess What We Learned in School Today," "Joe," "Cry Uncle," "Okay Bill" and "The Stoolie", starring Jackie Mason.
Avildsen is survived by a daughter, Bridget, and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley.
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