'Rocky' Director John G. Avildsen Dies at 81, Sylvester Stallone Pays Tribute

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Director John G. Avildsen, best known for directing Rocky and the first three original Karate Kid movies, died Friday in Los Angeles after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

The Oscar-winning director's eldest son, Anthony, confirmed the news to the Associated Press. "He was a pretty extraordinary man in my estimation," he said. "He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment but also often to his benefit."

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Avildsen won a directing Oscar for the 1976 sports drama Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone. The two later worked together again on Rocky V. Upon hearing the news of Avildsen's death, the 70-year-old actor took to social media to send his condolences.

"The great director John G. Avildsen who won the Oscar for directing Rocky! R. I. P. I'm sure you will soon be directing Hits in Heaven- Thank you, Sly," Stallone wrote alongside a throwback pic of the two on the set of Rocky.

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Ralph Macchio, who starred as Daniel in The Karate Kid, also paid tribute to the director.

"RIP to my friend and KK director John G Avildsen. He brought inspirational stories to us all and had a guiding hand in changing my life," Macchio tweeted alongside a collage with images of the two.