Director John G. Avildsen's career endured many ups and downs. Not only has he produced a string of bombs, and low-budget films, the self-described dreamer has also produced some of the most popular films of our time--most notably the triple Oscar winning Rocky(1976) and the thematically similar Karate Kid (1984). The son of a Chicago tool manufacturer, Avildsen worked as a copywriter at an ad agency; he then served as a chaplain's assistant in the military before coming to Hollywood in the early 60s where he first worked as a production manager, assistant director, and cinematographer before directing his first films--best forgotten according to some critics--in the late '60s. His first hit was the low-budget (he filmed it himself) sleeper Joe (1970), which told the tale of a bigoted construction worker and made a star of Peter Boyle. After the smashing success of Rocky the director did not have another major commercial hit until The Karate Kid, even though some of his films featured popular stars such as Burt Reynolds, W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, Marlon Brando, The Formula, and John Belushi (in his last film), Neighbors. He followed The Karate Kid with 3 sequels. In 1989 he created the fine drama Lean on Me, which showcased the talents of the charismatic Morgan Freeman.