Carl Weathers, Star of ‘Rocky’ as Apollo Creed, Dies at 76

The actor’s 50-year Hollywood career also included “The Mandalorian,” “Predator,” “Action Jackson” and “Happy Gilmore”

Carl Weathers attends "The Mandalorian" FYC Event at DGA Theater Complex in Hollywood, California
Carl Weathers attends "The Mandalorian" FYC Event at DGA Theater Complex in Hollywood, California (Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Carl Weathers, best known for playing Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” franchise, has died, according to his representative. Weathers was 76.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers,” his family said in a statement. “He died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, [Feb. 1], 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.”

The actor’s 50-year Hollywood career included films such as “Predator,” “Action Jackson” and “Happy Gilmore,” as well as TV roles in “The Mandalorian” and “Arrested Development.”

Weathers is arguably best recognized for his seminal portrayal of fictional boxing champ Apollo Creed. He first brought the character to life opposite Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in 1976’s Oscar-winning “Rocky,” where Creed gives a title shot to the Philadelphia underdog. Weathers stepped back into the ring for 1979’s “Rocky II,” which depicted a rematch between the rivals-turned-friends. The actor reprised the role twice more in 1982’s “Rocky III” and 1985’s “Rocky IV,” which saw Creed tragically killed in an exhibition match against Russian boxer Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren.

The 76-year-old’s acting credits include over 75 films and television shows. Most recently, Weathers played Greef Karga on the popular Disney+ “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” over the show’s first three seasons, with a feature film continuation set to film this year. In 2021, Weathers was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work in the “The Mandalorian.”

Weathers also lent his voice acting talents to major films, such as voicing the action figure Combat Carl in 2019’s Academy Award winning “Toy Story 4.” Weathers first brought the Combat Carl character to life in 2013 for the “Toy Story” Halloween special “Toy Story of Terror.”

Born in New Orleans on Jan. 14, 1948, Weathers was a talented athlete from a young age. He went on to compete in several sports during his youth, including boxing, football, wrestling, soccer and gymnastics. He continued his football career at San Diego State University, where he not only played but helped lead the Aztecs to triumph in the 1969 Pasadena Bowl.

During his time at SDSU, Weathers also began pursuing a passion for theater arts — though he briefly put acting on hold when he signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent in 1970. He played eight NFL games as a linebacker over two seasons before retiring from professional football.

After hanging up his football jersey, Weathers pivoted to focus wholeheartedly on acting. He landed minor roles in blaxploitation films like “Bucktown” and “Friday Foster,” as well as guest appearances on hit TV series including “Good Times,” “Kung Fu,” “Cannon” and “Starsky and Hutch.”

Weathers is survived by his wife Mary Ann and their two sons.

Deadline first reported the news.

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