Carl Weathers, a former NFL linebacker who became a Hollywood action movie and comedy star, playing nemesis-turned-ally Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” movies, facing-off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Predator” and teaching golf in “Happy Gilmore,” has died. He was 76.
Weathers’ manager Matt Luber confirmed to CBS News that Weathers died at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday. His family issued a statement to the Associated Press saying he died “peacefully in his sleep.
“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life. Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend,” his family said in the statement, according to entertainment news outlet Deadline.
Adam Sandler, who starred with Weathers in “Happy Gilmore,” took to social media to remember his co-star in the 1996 comedy.
“A true great man. Great dad. Great actor. Great athlete. So much fun to be around always. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell. Loved his sons more than anything. What a guy!!” Sandler said.
Weathers was as comfortable flexing his muscles on the big screen in “Action Jackson” as he was joking around on the small screen in such shows as “Arrested Development.” Weathers was perhaps most closely associated with Creed, who made his first appearance as the cocky, undisputed heavyweight world champion in 1976’s “Rocky,” starring Sylvester Stallone.
“It puts you on the map and makes your career, so to speak. But that’s a one-off, so you’ve got to follow it up with something. Fortunately those movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more in people’s consciousness and welcome in their lives, and it was just the right guy at the right time,” he told The Daily Beast in 2017.
Most recently, Weathers has starred in the Disney+ hit “The Mandalorian,” appearing in all three seasons.
Creed, who appeared in the first four “Rocky” movies, memorably died in the ring of 1984’s “Rocky IV,” going toe-to-toe with the hulking, steroided-using Soviet Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren. Before he entered the ring, James Brown sang “Living in America” with showgirls and Creed popped up on a balcony in a Star-Spangled Banner shorts and waistcoat combo and an Uncle Sam hat, dancing and taunting Drago.
A bloodied Creed collapses in the ring after taking a vicious beating, twitches and is cradled by Rocky as he dies, inevitably setting up a fight between Drago and Rocky. But while Creed is gone, his character’s son, Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, would lead his own boxing trilogy starting in 2015.
In an interview with the Detroit News last May, Weathers said he considered himself a “lucky guy.”
“There are so many people that came before me who I admired and whose success I wanted to emulate, and just kind of hit the benchmarks they hit in terms of success, who created a pathway that I’ve been able to walk and find success as a result. And hopefully I can inspire someone else to do good work as well,” he said. “I guess I’m just a lucky guy.”
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