John Avildsen, director of Rocky and The Karate Kid, dies aged 81

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Renowned director John G. Avildsen, who directed "Rocky" and "The Karate Kid" passes away on Friday.

Avildsen died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his son, Anthony, told the Los Angeles Times. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Rocky got an Oscar for Avildsen as well as got awarded for Best Picture and Best Editing. His directing, his passion, his toughness and his heart - a great heart - is what made 'Rocky'the film it became. Starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, "The Karate Kid" movies told the story of an emotional kid rising through the ranks of competitive martial arts under the guidance of a strict but benevolent mentor.

Like Rocky, the popularity of the 1984 film The Karate Kid could not have been predicted.

Earlier this year, the filmmaker's career was the focus of the documentary John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs. "I think it's as successful as it is because people find the character an admirable one, and they're pulling for him".

Avildsen has two other films on his resume that are always worth watching. Along with the Academy Award for Rocky in 1977, he also won a Blue Ribbon Award and a Directors Guild of America Award for the film.

Rocky wasn't Avildsen's only underdog story that became a major franchise.

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In 2016, a documentary was released detailing the life and career of the now-late director.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Avildsen graduated from Hotchkiss School and New York University.

Other films Avildsen directed included Joe (1970), For Keeps (1988) and Rocky V (1990).

In a 1992 interview, Avildsen outlined his view of filmmaking.

He wrote: "John Avildsen RIP". For over 40 years, the enduring classic underdog story about an every man overcoming all odds defined generations of moviegoers. I'm a good bro, too. "And the opposite would be too depressing".

He is survived by three sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley and a daughter, Bridget.

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