Carl Weathers, ‘Rocky’s’ Apollo Creed and ‘Mandalorian’ Actor, Dies at 76

Carl Weathers, who starred as Apollo Creed in the first four “Rocky” films opposite Sylvester Stallone, died Thursday, his manager Matt Luber confirmed to Variety. He was 76.

Weathers also starred in 1987’s “Predator” and had a memorable role in Adam Sandler’s “Happy Gilmore.” He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work in the “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian.”

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He voiced Combat Carl in “Toy Story 4” and played a fictionalized version of himself in a recurring role on “Arrested Development.” His other credits include the TV series “Street Justice,” “Colony,” “The Shield,” “Chicago Justice” and “Brothers,” and the films “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Death Hunt” and “The Comebacks.”

After working with Sandler on the 1996 golf comedy “Happy Gilmore,” Weathers briefly reprised his role in “Little Nicky” and voiced a character in Sandler’s animated Hanukkah comedy “Eight Crazy Nights.”

Born Jan. 14, 1948, in New Orleans, Weathers played a variety of sports including boxing, football, soccer, wrestling and gymnastics. He played football in college at San Diego State University and helped the Aztecs win the 1969 Pasadena Bowl. While at SDSU, Weathers also pursued a degree in theatre arts, but in 1970 he signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent, and he played in eight games in the NFL as a linebacker across two seasons.

After his stint in professional football, Weathers pivoted more seriously to acting, landing small roles in Arthur Marks’ blaxploitation movies “Bucktown” and “Friday Foster,” as well as TV series including “Good Times,” “Kung Fu,” “Cannon” and “Starsky and Hutch.”

In “Predator,” Weathers starred as Colonel Al Dillon alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went on to become the governor of California, and Jesse Ventura, who became the Minnesota governor. In 1988, Weathers hosted “Saturday Night Live” and, many years later, he returned to the live sketch show for a spoof segment in which he announces he is running for political office on the basis that he was “the Black guy in ‘Predator.'”

When Stallone asked Weathers for permission to use footage from earlier “Rocky” films for the sixth movie in the franchise, 2006’s “Rocky Balboa,” Weathers refused and lobbied for an actual part in the film, despite his character, Apollo Creed, dying in “Rocky IV.” Stallone said no and hired a lookalike actor to shoot flashback fight sequences. The pair reconciled, and Weathers later allowed Stallone to use his likeness in the “Creed” sequel series, in which Michael B. Jordan plays Apollo Creed’s son.

In his later career, Weathers landed smaller roles in TV procedurals, and he directed episodes of them, too. He earned his first Emmy nomination in 2021 for the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” in which he played Greef Karga in nine episodes across three seasons. Weathers stepped into the director’s chair for Episodes 12 and 20 of the “Star Wars” spinoff.

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

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