Thursday, 29 June, 2017

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

John G. Avildsen, 'Rocky,' 'The Karate Kid' Director, Dead at 81 RIP John G. Avildsen, director of Rocky and The Karate Kid
Elaine Woods | 17 June, 2017, 11:24

Avildsen died Friday at the age of 81 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his eldest son Anthony Avildsen.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, John G. Avildsen launches his Hollywood career as an assistant to directors Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger (themselves both three-time Oscar nominees).

Avildsen received his first directing success with Joe (1970), a drama in which Susan Sarandon made her film debut.

Avildsen directed the box-office victor The Karate Kid, released in 1984, as well as The Karate Kid Part II in 1986 and The Karate Kid Part III in 1989. That film also impressed Frank Capra, who was incidentally Avildsen's favourite director.

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

Rocky was nominated for 10 Oscars and won three, with Stallone taking the best actor award.

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Released in the summer of 1984, The Karate Kid attracted millions of youngsters and brought Morita, a veteran performer best known for his TV roles, an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.

Rocky was made for a modest $1 million USA and generated $225 million in ticket sales to became a cultural phenomenon, with a series of unforgettable characters and scenes and a blend of romance with pugilistic action.

Another underdog film, "The Karate Kid", was also an unexpected success at the box office and spawned a series of films, a sequel and a remake. 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.

What is your favorite John G. Avildsen film?

After "Joe", Avildsen directed "Save the Tiger" (1973) starring Jack Lemmon as a burned-out dress manufacturer. I guess I just like to see underdogs winning against the odds. His other films include Neighbors, The Formula, Lean on Me and For Keeps.

Avildsen has two other films on his resume that are always worth watching.

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