John G. Avildsen: American film director (born: 1935 - died: 2017) | Biography, Filmography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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John G. Avildsen
American film director

John G. Avildsen

John G. Avildsen
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American film director
A.K.A. John Guilbert Avildsen, John Avildsen, Danny Mulroon
Was Film director Film producer Film editor Actor Film actor Cinematographer Film crew member Camera operator Screenwriter
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 21 December 1935, Oak Park, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 16 June 2017, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 81 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Spouse: Tracy Brooks Swope (1987-2003)
Children: Jonathan Avildsen
New York University
Hotchkiss School
Notable Works
The Power of One  
Lean on Me  
The Karate Kid  
Directors Guild of America Award  
Academy Award for Best Director  
The details (from wikipedia)


John Guilbert Avildsen (December 21, 1935 – June 16, 2017) was an American film director. He is perhaps best known for directing Rocky (1976), which earned him the Academy Award for Best Director. Other films he directed include Joe (1970), Save the Tiger (1973), The Formula (1980), Neighbors (1981), Lean on Me (1989), Rocky V (1990), 8 Seconds (1994), and the first three The Karate Kid films.

Early life

Avildsen was born in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of Ivy (née Guilbert) and Clarence John Avildsen. He was educated at The Hotchkiss School and New York University. John is of Danish heritage.


After starting out as an assistant director on films by Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger, his first success came with the low-budget 1971 cult classic comedy film "Cry Uncle!", released in the UK as "Superdick" (theatrical title) and "American Oddballs" (video title), a 1971 American film in the Troma Entertainment library. It is directed by John G. Avildsen and stars Allen Garfield. The story, based on the Michael Brett novel "Lie a Little, Die a Little", follows the misadventures of a slobbish private detective who is hired by a millionaire to investigate a murder. The film features one of Paul Sorvino's first screen performances, and an early appearance from TV star Debbi Morgan.

Avildsen received the low budget feature Joe (1970) which received good notices for star Peter Boyle and moderate box-office business.

This was followed by Save the Tiger (1973), a film nominated for three Oscars, winning Best Actor for star Jack Lemmon. Both Joe and Save the Tiger were about losers, but as the 1970s continued, Avildsen shifted to people who went on to be victorious.

Avildsen's greatest success was Rocky (1976), which he directed working in conjunction with writer and star Sylvester Stallone. The film was a major critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976 and garnering ten Academy Award nominations and winning three, including Best Picture and Best Director. He later returned to direct what was then expected to be the series' final installment, Rocky V (1990). (Later installments were released in 2006, 2015, and 2018).

He directed the mystery-drama The Formula (1980), starring Marlon Brando and George C. Scott. He was nominated for Razzie Award for Worst Director.

His other films include Neighbors (1981), For Keeps (1988), Lean on Me (1989), The Power of One (1992), 8 Seconds (1994) and the first three The Karate Kid films.

Avildsen was the original director for both Serpico (1973) and Saturday Night Fever (1977), but was fired over disputes with producers Martin Bregman and Robert Stigwood, respectively.

His last-ever film was Inferno (1999), starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.

A documentary on the life, career and films of Avildsen was released in August 2017. John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2017) is directed and produced by Derek Wayne Johnson and features interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Weintraub, Burt Reynolds amongst others. 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.


Avildsen died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on June 16, 2017. He was 81. The cause of his death was pancreatic cancer, according to his son, Anthony Avildsen.


Avildsen's first wife was Marie Olga Maturevich (Melissa McCall). After they divorced, he married actress Tracy Brooks Swope in 1987; they separated in 2006. He had five children. His estranged son Ash (born November 5, 1981), founded Sumerian Records. Another son, Jonathan Avildsen, appeared in the films The Karate Kid Part III and Rocky V. His eldest son was named Anthony and he had a daughter Penelope Avildsen. John also had an daughter with Tracy Swope, Bridget.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 20 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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