Filmmaker John G Avildsen who gave us hits like Rocky and The Karate Kid has passed away. The 81-year-old died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. In a statement, his son Anthony Avildsen described him as an extraordinary man who was super talented and very stubborn, which was like a double-edged quality about him. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Rocky got an Oscar for Avildsen as well as got awarded for Best Picture and Best Editing. That film also impressed Frank Capra, who was incidentally Avildsen's favourite director. He was not the director of choice for Rocky but bagged it after another film got cancelled. Avildsen also knew zero about boxing. He did not direct any of the sequels that followed but returned for Rocky V in 1990. It was a box-office failure and got a bad response from critics.
The Karate Kid was also a runway hit. No one had placed much money on the film telling the story of a bullied teenager who learns karate. The film was loved by teens and got Morita, an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It seems Avildsen was not keen on directing sequels of both Rocky and The Karate Kid as he felt he could not do justice to the first film. But he made both the sequels of The Karate Kid. An all-rounder, Avildsen was also a cinemtographer and editor. He had production skills as well. His breakthrough film was Joe (1970). His 1973 film Save the Tiger won an Oscar for lead actor Jack Lemmon who played a dress manufacturer. In his fabulous career, he worked with actors like Burt Reynolds, Marlon Brando and Morgan Freeman to name a few. In a public statement, the Directors Guild of America wrote, "Throughout the decades, his rousing portrayals of victory, courage and emotion captured the hearts of generations of Americans".
He came from a humble background and even worked in the Army. He has three sons, Jonathan, Ashley and Anthony, and a daughter Bridget.
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