Director of ‘Rocky’ and ‘The Karate Kid,’ John G. Avildsen Dies At 81

By  //  June 17, 2017

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ABOVE VIDEO: John G. Avildsen Wins Best Directing: 1977 Oscars

(ESPN) – 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 81.

Anthony Avildsen said his father died Friday in Los Angeles from pancreatic cancer.

“He was a pretty extraordinary man in my estimation. He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment, but also often to his benefit,” Anthony Avildsen said.

“Rocky” was a huge success. It won Oscars for best picture, director (Avildsen) and editing and was nominated for seven others. No less a Hollywood eminence than Frank Capra loved it, telling The New York Times in 1977, “When I saw it, I said, ‘Boy, that’s a picture I wish I had made.’ ” For his part, Avildsen said Capra — who also championed underdogs on film — was his favorite director.