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John G. Avildsen, director of ‘Rocky’ and ‘The Karate Kid’, dies at 81

John G. Avildsen, best known for directing classic movies such as “Rocky” and the original “The Karate Kid”, has died.

LOS ANGELES — John G. Avildsen, best known for directing classic movies such as “Rocky” and the original “The Karate Kid”, has died.

Avildsen died Friday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 81, according to the Associated Press, citing the director’s son, Anthony Avildsen.

John Avildsen won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1977 for Rocky.

Some of the other movies he directed include “Joe,” “Save the Tiger,” “Fore Play,” “The Formula,” “Neighbors,” “For Keeps, Lean on Me,” “The Power of One,” “8 Seconds,” “Inferno,” “Rocky V” and the first three Karate Kid films.

“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,” Sylvester Stallone wrote in a statement. “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.”