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Carl Weathers: actor known for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky films has died at the age of 76

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Carl Weathers, the American actor best known for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky films, has died at the age of 76.

In a statement, his family said he died “peacefully in his sleep” on Thursday.

They called him “an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life” and said he was “a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner and friend.”

“Through his contributions to film, television, the arts and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized throughout the world and across generations,” the family also said.

Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film Rocky. Photo: Rex/Moviestore/Shutterstock
Picture:
Weathers starred in the Rocky films with Sylvester Stallone. Photo: Rex/Moviestore/Shutterstock

Weathers, a former NFL linebacker turned action and comedy star, starred in classics such as 1987’s Predator alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and 1996’s Happy Gilmore with Adam Sandler.

Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Weathers, saying: Carl Weathers will always be a legend. An extraordinary athlete, a fantastic actor and a wonderful person.

“We couldn’t have made Predator without him. And we certainly wouldn’t have had such a wonderful time making it.

“Every minute spent with him – on and off set – was pure joy.

“He was the kind of friend who pushes you to do your best just to follow him. I will miss him and my thoughts are with his family.”

Sandler also paid tribute to his X co-star, saying: “A truly great man. A great father. A great actor. A great athlete.

“It’s so much fun to still be around. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell.

“I loved his sons more than anything. What a guy!! Everyone loved him. My wife and I had the best times with him every time we saw him.

“I love his whole family and Carl will always be known as a true legend.”

In the film, he plays Happy Gilmore’s golf coach, Chubbs Peterson, a former professional golfer who was forced to retire after an alligator bit his hand.

His most famous film role was as boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise.

“It puts you on the map and makes your career, so to speak. But it’s one-off, so you have to follow it up with something.

“Luckily, these movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more present in people’s consciousness and welcome in their lives, and it was just the right guy at the right time,” he said to the Daily Beast in 2017.

Other early roles included appearances on the television shows The Six Million Dollar Man and Starsky and Hutch, as well as the film Force 10 From Navarone, starring Harrison Ford.

Most recently, Weathers starred in the sitcom Arrested Development and the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian.

Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone in 2016. Photo: AP/PGSK/MediaPunch/IPX
Picture:
Weathers and Stallone in 2016. Photo: AP/PGSK/MediaPunch/IPX

Growing up in New Orleans, Weathers began acting in elementary school plays.

In high school, athletics took him down a different path, but he would return to his first love later in life.

He played American football at San Diego State University – where he studied theater – and later played one season in the NFL, for the Oakland Raiders, in 1970.

“When I discovered football, it was a completely different outlet,” Weathers told the Detroit News.

“It was more a question of physics, although one feeds into the other. It took a bit of intelligence because there were textbooks to study and films to study, to learn more about the opposition to during a given week.”

Carl Weathers arrives at a special screening for the season three premiere of "The Mandalorian" on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.  (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Picture:
Weathers at a special screening for the season three premiere of The Mandalorian last year. Photo: AP

After the Raiders, he joined the Canadian Football League, playing for two years while finishing his studies in the off-season at San Francisco State University.

He graduated with a degree in drama in 1974. Two years later, he landed the role of Creed and starred in four films in the Rocky franchise, until his dramatic on-screen death in Rocky IV in 1984.

Married and divorced three times, Weathers is survived by two children, Jason and Matthew.

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