Iconic Rocky and Predator actor Carl Weathers has died aged 76.
The screen star, who was most famous for playing Rocky Balboa’s adversary-turned boxing mentor Apollo Creed in four Rocky films, passed ‘peacefully in his sleep’ on Thursday February 1, his family announced in a statement.
They said: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers. He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, February 1st, 2024.
‘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.’
Iconic Rocky and Predator actor Carl Weathers has died aged 76 (pictured 2016)
The screen star, who was most famous for playing Rocky Balboa’s adversary-turned boxing mentor Apollo Creed in four Rocky films, passed ‘peacefully in his sleep’ on Thursday February 1, his family announced in a statement (pictured with Sylvester Stallone)
Former professional football player Weathers shot to worldwide fame playing heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed in 1976’s Rocky.
Creed gave ‘Italian Stallion’ underdog Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) his shot at the title in the iconic film – and Weathers reprised his role in 1979’s Rocky II in which Creed had a title rematch with Rocky, 1982’s Rocky III in which he faced off with Clubber Lang (Mr.T) and 1984’s Rocky IV – which saw his character killed in the ring by Russian heavyweight Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
Weathers previously revealed he had insulted Stallone’s acting abilities during his Rocky audition – which landed him the role.
He said: ‘There was nobody to read with, and they said you’re going to read with the writer [Stallone].
And we read through the scene and at the end of it, I didn’t feel like it had really sailed, that the scene had sailed, and they were quiet and there was this moment of awkwardness, I felt, anyway.
‘So I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with. So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.’
Stallone felt the jibe was something Creed would say, with Weathers adding: ‘Sometimes the mistakes are the ones that get you the gig.’
He is survived by sons Jason and Matthew who he shared with ex-wife Mary Ann Castle and his grandchildren.
Creed gave ‘Italian Stallion’ underdog Rocky ( Sylvester Stallone ) his shot at the title in the iconic film – and Weathers reprised his role in 1979’s Rocky II, 1982’s Rocky III and 1984’s Rocky IV – which saw his character killed in the ring (pictured) by Ivan Drago ( Dolph Lundgren )
Weathers is seen as Colonel Al Dillon in 1987’s Predator alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger
Weathers was married and divorced three times, to Mary Ann from 1973-1983, Rhona Unsell from 1984-2006 and Jennifer Peterson from 2007-2009.
The star was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 14, 1948, During his time in school he exhibited an aptitude for sports and later played football as a defensive end in college.
He started his college career in 1966 at Long Beach City College and after sustaining an ankle injury he then transferred and played for San Diego State University.
At San Diego State, Weathers received a master in theatre arts.
Weathers signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent in 1970 and played in seven games for the Raiders in 1970. The Raiders released him in September 1971.
Weathers signed with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League and played for the Lions until 1973.
During the off-seasons, Weathers attended San Francisco State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in drama in 1974.
He retired from football in 1974 and began pursuing an acting career.
His first starring roles came in Bucktown (1975) and Friday Foster (1975) and he appeared in an early 1975 episode of the sitcom Good Times
He also guest-starred in a 1975 episode of Kung Fu and appeared as a loan shark in an episode of the crime-drama Starsky and Hutch.
After shooting to fame in Rocky the star appeared in actions films Force 10 from Navarone (1978), Predator (1987), Action Jackson (1988), and Hurricane Smith (1992).
He also appeared in Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl music video and co-starred in the 1996 Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore.
His TV appearances include Sgt. Adam Beaudreaux on the cop show Street Justice, Hampton Forbes on In the Heat of the Night (1992–1994) and MACV-SOG Colonel Brewster in the CBS series Tour of Duty.