John G. Avildsen, Director of “Rocky,” “Karate Kid”, Dies at 81

John G. Avildsen, the Oscar-winning directory of the films “Rocky” (1976) and “Karate Kid”, passed away in Los Angeles age 81. His death has been confirmed by a rep.

Avildsen’s “Rocky” won several Oscars for his directing, and also for best picture and film editing.

In 2006, Avildsen spoke to Variety and said that he wasn’t too excited about a film with a boxing story, but he was “moved by the urban character study of Sylvester Stallone’s script.” He missed out on directing the part two of “Rocky” and said it was “one of [his] greatest mistakes.” He returned as a director of 1990’s “Rocky V”.

Following Avildsen’s death, Stallone shared a statement saying:

“I owe just about everything to John Avildsen. His directing, his passion, his toughness and his heart — a great heart — is what made ‘Rocky’ the film it became. He changed my life and I will be forever indebted to him. Nobody could have done it better than my friend John Avildsen. I will miss him.”