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Avildsen, who won the Best Director Oscar for 1977's Best Picture victor Rocky that introduced the world to Sylvester Stallone, and who later helmed three Karate Kid movies, has died in Los Angeles.

Avildsen, the Academy Award-winning director passed away at an age of 81. He received an Oscar nomination in 1983 for his documentary short film Traveling Hopefully. The fifth sequel, "Rocky Balboa", came out in 2006. Rocky trains very hard in a memorable and iconic montage and although he faces his share of trouble, preservers and comes out as a champion in the end. Avildsen returned to direct just one of his original film's six sequels, Rocky V. "It was a great character study".

"He was a pretty extraordinary man in my estimation".

"We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of beloved director John Avildsen", the Director's Guild said a statement, according to Variety. Three years later, Avildsen helmed Save the Tiger, which earned Jack Lemmon an Academy Award for his portrayal of a fashion executive embroiled in an existential crisis. Nobody could have done it better than my friend John Avildsen.

A documentary about Avildsen's life and career is in production. 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.

In the 1980s, Avildsen helmed another popular franchise in The Karate Kid, directing the original 1981 film and its two subsequent sequels in 1986 and 1989, to the tune of almost a quarter-billion dollars grossed overall. "He was super talented and very driven and very stubborn and that was to his detriment but also often to his benefit", Anthony Avildsen said.

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"As soon as the producers saw the business it was doing, they wanted to do it again", Avildsen said in a 1986 interview.

Other now-classic films include The Karate Kid and Lean on Me. "And the opposite would be too depressing".

Avildsen is survived by a daughter, Bridget, and sons Anthony, Jonathan and Ashley.

The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed to this report.

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