The original Rocky (1976) boxing film hit starred Sylvester Stallone in the title role, but a common misconception among non movie buffs is that Sylvester Stallone also directed the film. This is not true; while Stallone did direct most of the Rocky films, and while he did write the original film's script, the original movie that started it all was directed by a man named John G. Avildsen.
According to Variety, John G. Avildsen passed away on June 16 at the age of 81.
Besides also returning to direct the not as favored installment of Rocky V (1990), Avildsen was additionally responsible and also known for directing the original Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid Part II (1986), and The Karate Kid Part III (1989), all of which starred Ralph Macchio in the title role, along with the incomparable Pat Morita as his teacher and mentor, Mr. Miyagi (nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for his Supporting Role in the original film).
It is without question that Avildsen's role in directing these movies had a huge impact on the film industry with the start of both fighting franchises, setting a new standard for sports movies and underdog stories, and for movies in general.
Rocky was especially a game changer, and Avildsen's collaboration with Sylvester Stallone was nominated for ten Academy Awards and six Golden Globes, each of which included the category of Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress (Talia Shire as Adrian) in a Leading Role. It won three of those Oscars: Best Picture, Best Film Editing, and Best Director, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Rocky also earned its place on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Greatest American Films of All Time list in 1998 as #78, and again on the 10th Anniversary Edition of that list as #57 in 2007. It is also #4 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Most Inspiring Films of All Time, which was published in 2006.
Avildsen would later be nominated again for an Academy Award in 1983 with his documentary short, Traveling Hopefully.
Avildsen's last directorial effort was a short film in 2014 entitled Let Love Last, but also has an acting credit as a Talk Show Host in American Satan (2017), which is listed on IMDb as being in the post-production stage.
We have two incredible film franchises to thank Mr. Avildsen for, and he has most definitely left his mark on the ways of filmmaking and how to tell a powerful, inspirational, and emotionally moving story.
Rest in peace, John G. Avildsen, and thank you.