John G. Avildsen
John Guilbert Avildsen (born December 21, 1935) is an American film director. He won the Academy Award for Best Director in 1977 for Rocky. Other films he directed include Joe, Save the Tiger, Fore Play, The Formula, Neighbors, For Keeps, Lean on Me, The Power of One, 8 Seconds, Inferno, Rocky V and the first three Karate Kid movies.
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. After starting out as an assistant director on films by Arthur Penn and Otto Preminger, John Avildsen received his first success with the low budget feature Joe (1970) which received critical acclaim for star Peter Boyle and moderate box office business.
This was followed by another critical success, Save the Tiger (1973), that was nominated for three Oscars, winning Best Actor for star Jack Lemmon. Both Joe and Save the Tiger were about losers, but as the 70s ended, Avildsen did films on winners. Avildsen's greatest success wasRocky (1976), garnering ten Academy Award nominations and winning three, including Best Picture and Best Director. He later directed what was expected to be the series' final installment, Rocky V (1990). His other films include Cry Uncle! (1971), Neighbors (1981), The Karate Kid(1984), The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), The Karate Kid, Part III (1989), Lean on Me (1989), and 8 Seconds (1994).
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.
Avildsen has an estranged son named Ash (born November 5, 1981), who founded Sumerian Records. He also has another son, Jonathan Avildsen, who was in the films The Karate Kid III and Rocky V.
An upcoming documentary on the life, career and films of Avildsen is currently in production. John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2016) is directed and produced by Derek Wayne Johnson and features interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Ralph Macchio, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Weintraub, Burt Reynolds and many more. The documentary is a companion to the new book The Films of John G. Avildsen: Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Other Underdogs written by Larry Powell and Tom Garrett