Carl Weathers, Apollo Creed in “Rocky” movies and “Predator” star, dead at 76 — rest in peace

Carl Weathers, the actor best known for playing Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise, has died at 76.

The prolific actor was also known for his roles in PredatorHappy Gilmore and The Mandalorian. His passing was confirmed by his family, who announced that Weathers died in his sleep on February 1.

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“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life,” the family’s statement reads, per Deadline. “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.”


Born January 14, 1948 in New Orleans, Weathers was an athlete before an actor. He played football at San Diego State University, helping the Aztecs win the Pasadena Bowl in 1969. After going undrafted, he signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent, playing 7 games and helping them win the AFC West Division title. He played for the Canadian Football League after being released in 1971.

American actor and former professional football player Carl Weathers in sparring pose, United States, June 1979. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

At the same time he was pursuing degrees in drama, and retired from football in 1974 to pursue an acting career. His big breakthrough was in the 1976 film Rocky, where he played Apollo Creed, the larger-than-life heavyweight champion who bouts with Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa.

Weathers landed the role even after accidentally taking a jab at the star’s acting talents during his audition. “I just blurted out, ‘I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with,’” he recalled to the Hollywood Reporter, recalling reading with Stallone. “So I just insulted the star of the movie without really knowing it and not intending to.”

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Rocky was a smash hit, the highest grossing film of its year and a Best Picture Oscar winner, and gave Weathers his best-known role.

He returned as Creed in the first three Rocky sequels before his character was killed off. (But the character’s legacy lives on: the hit spin-off series Creed is all about Apollo’s son, Adonis, played by Michael B. Jordan.)

READ MORE: Burt Young, Paulie in ‘Rocky’ movies, dead at 83: Stallone pays tribute to “incredible man and artist”

Weathers also co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 classic Predator, establishing himself as an action star. Weathers headlined action vehicles including 1988’s Action Jackson and Hurricane Smith.

He also memorably played the golf coach of Adam Sandler’s character in the 1996 comedy Happy Gilmore. While making the film, a stunt fall fractured two of Weathers’ vertebrae and caused him pain for years.

On TV, he starred in the series Street Justice and had guest-starring roles on The Shield and Arrested Development — the latter of which he played a parody of himself as a thrifty acting coach.

In later years, Weathers was best known for his work on the hit Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. He played Greef Karga, leader of the Bounty Hunters’ Guild, and also directed two episodes of the series. Weathers received an Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, and called the role “one of the greatest things that’s happened in all of the years that I’ve been in entertainment.”

His final film role was playing Combat Carl in Toy Story 4.

Brandon Nagy /

Rest in peace to the great Carl Weathers, who gave us so many memorable performances, from Apollo Creed in Rocky to The Mandalorian.

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