Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Carl Weathers, Star of ‘Rocky’ Movies, ‘Predator’ and ‘The Mandalorian,’ Dies at 76

The actor got his start as an NFL linebacker


spinner image Actor Carl Weathers at a special screening for the Season 3 premiere of "The Mandalorian" in Los Angeles
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Carl Weathers, a former NFL linebacker who became a Hollywood action movie and comedy star, playing nemesis-turned-ally Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies, facing off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator and teaching golf in Happy Gilmore, has died. He was 76.​

Matt Luber, his manager, said Weathers died Thursday. His family issued a statement saying he died "peacefully in his sleep."​

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

​Weathers was as comfortable flexing his muscles on the big screen in Action Jackson as he was joking around on the small screen in such shows as Arrested Development, Weathers was perhaps most closely associated with Creed, who made his first appearance as the cocky, undisputed heavyweight world champion in 1976's Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone.​

"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.​

Most recently, Weathers has starred in the Disney+ hit The Mandalorian, appearing in all three seasons.

spinner image Mr. T, Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone standing in a boxing ring in "Rocky III."
(Left to right) Mr. T, Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky III."
MGM/Everett Collection

​Creed, who appeared in the first four Rocky movies, memorably died in the ring of 1984's Rocky IV, going toe-to-toe with the hulking, steroided-using Soviet Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren. Before he entered the ring, James Brown sang "Living in America" with showgirls and Creed popped up on a balcony in a Star-Spangled Banner shorts and waistcoat combo and an Uncle Sam hat, dancing and taunting Drago.​

A bloodied Creed collapses in the ring after taking a vicious beating, twitches and is cradled by Rocky as he dies, inevitably setting up a fight between Drago and Rocky. But while Creed is gone, his character's son, Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed, would lead his own boxing trilogy starting in 2015.​

Weathers went on to 1987's Predator, where he flexed his pecs alongside Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura and a host of others, and 1988's nouveau blaxploitation flick Action Jackson, where he trains his flamethrower on a bad guy and asks, "How do you like your ribs?" before broiling him.​

He later added a false wooden hand to play a gold pro for the 1996 comedy classic Happy Gilmore opposite Adam Sandler and starred in Dick Wolf's short-lived spin-off series Chicago Justice in 2017 and in Disney's The Mandalorian, earning an Emmy Award nomination in 2021.​

Weathers grew up admiring actors such as Woody Strode, whose combination of physique and acting prowess in Spartacus made an early impression. Others he idolized included actors Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte and athletes Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali, stars who broke the mold and the color barrier.​

Shopping & Groceries

Walmart+

$20 off a Walmart+ annual membership

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >

"There are so many people that came before me who I admired and whose success I wanted to emulate, and just kind of hit the benchmarks they hit in terms of success, who created a pathway that I've been able to walk and find success as a result. And hopefully I can inspire someone else to do good work as well," he told the Detroit News 2023. "I guess I'm just a lucky guy."​

Growing up in New Orleans, Weathers started performing in plays as early as grade school. In high school, athletics took him down another path but he would reunite with his first love later in life.​

Weathers played college football at San Diego State University — he majored in theater — and went on to play for one season in the NFL, for the Oakland Raiders, in 1970.​

"When I found football, it was a completely different outlet," says Weathers told the Detroit News. "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."​

After the Raiders, he joined the Canadian Football League, playing for two years while finishing up his studies during the offseason at San Francisco State University. He graduated with a B.A. in drama in 1974.​

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?