Feb 2, 2024 - News

Carl Weathers, SDSU alumnus and "Rocky," "Happy Gilmore" star, dies

Carl Weathers at a Raiders game

Carl Weathers at a Las Vegas Raiders game in 2022. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Carl Weathers, the San Diego State University football standout turned Hollywood action and comedy star, died in his sleep Thursday at age 76, the Associated Press reported.

Zoom in: Weathers was raised in New Orleans and was a star linebacker at SDSU under Hall of Fame coach Don Coryell in 1968 and 1969. He began a professional career with the Oakland Raiders in 1970.

Yes, but: It is his post-football career for which he is best known, especially his role as Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa's rival-turned-friend-turned-inspiration, in the "Rocky" films.

  • Other famous acting roles include a paramilitary sidekick to Arnold Schwarzeneger's character in "Predator," a former golf pro with a wooden hand in "Happy Gilmore," and a fictionalized, cheapskate version of himself in "Arrested Development."
  • He was also nominated for an Emmy in 2021 for his work in the "Star Wars" spinoff "The Mandalorian."

Flashback: Weathers returned to SDSU a year ago as part of the Presidents' Lecture Series, citing his graduation with a theater degree while playing on the football team as proof that students should "express themselves as who they are."

  • "I experienced a greater degree of comfort on this campus than I can remember almost any place at that time in my life," he said.

The big picture: Weathers said he always knew he wanted to be an actor, and film was the medium that drew him in.

  • "From the moment I saw Sydney Poitier a billion years ago on screen, there was an example that, I could be that guy," he said. "And people like Woody Strode, and Harry Belafonte, those images were important images for me."

Reality check: Asked if there was an early role that launched his success, Weathers instead invoked what he called his mantra.

  • "We're all auditioning for the next job," he said. "I never, ever look at any of them as, 'oh wow this is the one.' I just know that some of them feel really right, and I'm doing my best to create something that's memorable, indelible, that's satisfying as I'm doing it and also that I think is going to be satisfying for an audience."

What they're saying: Adam Sandler memorialized his "Happy Gilmore" co-star on X:

  • "A true great man," Sandler wrote. "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."

Be smart: In "Arrested Development," Weathers plays himself — but a version of himself who is unbearably cheap. But that was not in the original script — it was Weathers' suggestion, Mitch Hurwitz said in a 2013 interview with Vulture.

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