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Adam Sandler and Pedro Pascal pay tribute to Carl Weathers who dies age 76

Carl also appeared in the Toy Story films 

American actor and former professional football player Carl Weathers posed in June 1979.
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
ReporterLos Angeles
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Carl Weathers, who starred as Apollo Creed in the first four Rocky films alongside Sylvester Stallone, The Mandalorian and the One Chicago franchise, has died at the age of 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, 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.” 

Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone attend the premiere of "Creed" at Regency Village Theatre on November 19, 2015 in Westwood, California.  (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)© Jason LaVeris
Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone attend the premiere of Creed in 2015

Carl also appeared in Happy Gilmore alongside Adam Sandler, and the comedian posted a tribute on X/Twitter in the hours after the news broke: “A true great man.

“Great dad. Great actor. Great athlete. So much fun to be around always. Smart as hell. Loyal as hell. Funny as hell. 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. Love to his entire family and Carl will always be known as a true legend.”

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Carl also appeared in Predator, Action Jackson, Toy Story 4 as the voice of Combat Carl and most recently The Mandalorian with Pedro Pascal, who shared a post on Instagram that simply read: "Words fail," alongside a picture of Carl.

In the Disney+ Star Wars Carl starred as Greef Karga, the head of the Bounty Hunters Guild, a close ally of Pedro Pascal’s Mando. He was nominated for his first Emy for the role, and he also directed two episodes in season two and three. 

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In the Rocky franchise, he appeared in the first four films as the heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed, the main antagonist to the titular Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone). 

He was killed off in Rocky IV (1985) during a fight with Russian heavyweight Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) but his story continued with the 2015 sports film Creed, which starred Michael B Jordan as Adonis Creed, Apollo's son, who is trained by Rocky. 

Carl Weathers at the launch event for season 3 of The Mandalorian© Michael Buckner
Carl Weathers at the launch event for season 3 of The Mandalorian

Born on January 14, 1948, Carl was the father to two sons whom he welcomed with his ex-wife Mary Ann.

He graduated from San Diego State University and began his career in the early 1970s with appearances on TV series including Kung Fu, S.W.A.T,  Starsky and Hutch, Barnaby Jones,  and The Streets of San Francisco.

His big break came as Apollo Creed though, and he later went on to star in the cult classic Predator, as well as the Adam Sandler comedy Happy Gilmore, playing the title character’s golf coach. 

Carl Weathers in Chicago Justice alongside Philip Winchester© NBC
Carl Weathers in Chicago Justice alongside Philip Winchester

However Carl was badly injured during filming, and he later told GQ that he didn't realize the extent of his injuries for many years:  "I didn't know it until years later, but I fractured two vertebrae and osteophytes grew out and connected and it did a kind of self-fuse in a really bad place.

"There were three or four years there where I was just in excruciating pain. And somehow, I was going to a doctor and getting treatment and then I went to another doctor and, finally, after I thought I was exhausted with what to do, I started to look into surgeons and I was told by one of the heads of surgery at one of our very fine hospitals in Los Angeles, 'You don't want us to touch that. We can only make it worse.' I went, 'How am I going to get through this?'

"After maybe the fourth year it all started to calm down. Now, for about two-and-a-half years, almost three years, no serious pain. I'm glad not to be experiencing what I was experiencing. It was debilitating."

sDAIn 2017 he joined the cast of the shortlived One Chicago spin-off Chicago Justice on NBC as State's Attorney Mark Jefferies before he joined the 2019 series The Mandalorian. Season four is in development, while a spin-off movie -The Mandalorian & Grogu - is also being developed by the studio. It is unclear if Carl or his character were involved.

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