Director John Avildsen Dies At 81; Won Oscar For 'Rocky'

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The filmmaker died of pancreatic cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing Mr Avildsen's eldest son.

Avildsen started in the business as a cinematographer, lensing seven films from the mid-'60s to the early '70s, including his feature directorial debut "Turn on to Love" (1969) and subsequent helming efforts "Guess What We Learned in School Today", "Joe", "Cry Uncle", "Okay Bill" and "The Stoolie" (1972), starring Jackie Mason. The documentary is a companion to the book "The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs", written by Larry Powell and Tom Garrett.

The franchise, The Karate Kid (1984), which starred Pat Morita as an Okinawan martial arts master who agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager, brought in nearly a quarter-billion dollars at the Box Office.

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

"Save the Tiger" (1973), an issue-oriented drama sporting an outstanding starring performance from Jack Lemmon, was nominated for three Oscars, with Lemmon winning best actor.

3 women found dead at Ohio home
The North Royalton Police Department identified two sisters as 18-year-old Kylie Pifer and 21-year-old Taylor Pifer . Taylor was a student at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio , while Kylie attended Bowling Green University .

Mr Avildsen went on to direct both The Karate Kid, Part II in 1986 and The Karate Kid, Part III in 1989.

Released in the summer of 1984, The Karate Kid attracted millions of youngsters and brought Morita, a veteran performer best known for his TV roles, an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.

Avildsen was one of the the great filmmakers, and now he is with us no more. And although anyone would be fortunate to have made such a fantastic motion picture, even once in their lives, Rocky has perhaps overshadowed numerous filmmaker's other great accomplishments. He did not direct any of the sequels that followed but returned for Rocky V in 1990.

What's your favorite John G. Avildsen film?

Avildsen has two other films on his resume that are always worth watching. He left quite a nice legacy of films including "The Karate Kid", "Lean on Me", the original "Neighbors" with Aykroyd and Belushi.