Actor Carl Weathers, a former professional American football player who shot to stardom by playing the brash and charismatic boxer Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, died on Thursday at age 76, his manager said in a statement on Friday.
“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers. He died peacefully in his sleep,” said manager Matt Luber.
Though he had other prominent roles, starring in the recent Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian and the 1987 science fiction horror movie Predator, Weathers was best known for playing Apollo Creed opposite Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in the hit movies of the 1970s and 1980s.
Weathers’ character was at first a rival and later an ally to the Rocky character in the first four movies of the series.
Modeled after Muhammad Ali, the Creed character demonstrated smarts and flare, offering audiences a strong and positive Black character at a time when mainstream movie roles were just starting to break out of stereotypes.
Weathers had a brief career playing for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League but retired from the sport to pursue acting.
After the Creed character was killed off, Weathers teamed up with the other major action star of the period, Arnold Schwarzenegger, with a role in the 1987 hit Predator.
Over ten episodes from 2019 to 2023, The Mandalorian put Weathers back into the limelight.
Married and divorced three times, Weathers is survived by two children, Jason and Matthew. (Reuters)