John G. Avildsen
John Guilbert Avildsen
December 21, 1935
Oak Park, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||June 16, 2017 (aged 81)|
|Other names||Johnny Avildsen|
|Marie Olga Maturevich (Melissa McCall) (?-?)|
Tracy Brooks Swope (1987-2006; separated)
|Parent(s)||Ivy (née Guilbert) and Clarence John Avildsen|
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.
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 four 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, Bridget.
After starting out as an assistant director on films by Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger, Avildsen received his first success with 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 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).
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.
|1969||Turn on to Love|
|1970||Guess What We Learned in School Today?|
|1973||Save the Tiger|
|W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings|
|1976||Rocky||Academy Award for Best Director|
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing - Feature Film
Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated--BAFTA Award for Best Direction
|1978||Slow Dancing in the Big City|
|1980||The Formula||Nominated--Razzie Award for Worst Director|
|1982||Traveling Hopefully||Nominated--Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject|
|1983||A Night in Heaven|
|1984||The Karate Kid|
|1986||The Karate Kid Part II|
|1987||Happy New Year|
|1989||Lean on Me|
|The Karate Kid Part III|
|1992||The Power of One|