Legendary actor Carl Weathers, best known for his role as Apollo Creed in the Rocky films, dies aged 76

2 February 2024, 19:55 | Updated: 2 February 2024, 20:28

Carl Weathers has died aged 76.
Carl Weathers has died aged 76. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Former NFL player and actor in the Rocky film franchise Carl Weathers has died aged 76, as his family pays tribute to the 'beloved' actor.

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His family said in a statement that he died 'peacefully in his sleep' on Thursday.

The statement read: "We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Carl Weathers.

"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 recognised worldwide and across generations.

"He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend."

Before stepping into the Hollywood industry, Weathers was an NFL linebacker.

He eventually went on to become a legendary actor, best known for his role alongside Sylvester Stallone in the first four Rocky films as Apollo Creed.

He also featured in other hits, such as Predator alongside Arnold Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Happy Gilmore and more recently The Mandalorian TV series.

Weathers said of being cast in the Rocky franchise: "It puts you on the map and makes your career, so to speak. But that's a one-off, so you've got to follow it up with something.

"Fortunately those movies kept coming, and Apollo Creed became more and more in people's consciousness and welcome in their lives, and it was just the right guy at the right time," he told The Daily Beast in 2017.

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Weathers was an NFL player before his career in film.
Weathers was an NFL player before his career in film. Picture: Alamy

The star balanced his love of both the arts and sports in his early years.

He performed in plays in primary school before he went on to embrace his love of sports in high school.

Weathers played American football at San Diego State University, where he majored in theatre.

Eventually he went on to play on season in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders in 1970.

He said discovering his love of American football was “a completely different outlet”.

"It was more about the physicality, although one does feed the other. You needed some smarts because there were playbooks to study and film to study, to learn about the opposition on any given week,” he told Detroit News.

Weathers shared two children, Jason and Matthew, with his ex-wife Mary Ann Castle who he is survived by alongside his grandchildren.