Rocky Star Tony Burton Dies At 78

Tony Burton, the actor best known for playing Tony ‘Duke’ Evers in the 'Rocky’ movies has died at the age of 78.

Burton’s character Evers, who appeared in the Rocky movies one to five and then in 2006′s ‘Rocky Balboa’, was trainer to both Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky and Carl Weathers’ Apollo Creed.

His sister Loretta Kelley told MLive in Burton’s home state of Michigan that he had been in and out of hospital in recent years.

A high school football star, he also pursued boxing professionally in the 1950s, but after quitting the sport, ended up on the wrong side of the law, serving three years for robbery.

But his time in prison made him turn his life around, receiving his high school diploma and finding a drama group.

Out of prison, he began theatre work, and landed parts on CBS show 'Frank’s Place’ and in the movies 'Hook’ with Dustin Hoffman, John Carpenter’s 'Assault on Precinct 13’, and 'Stir Crazy’ with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.

He was also a talented chess player and after being booked for a small role in 'The Shining’, one which required him on set for just a week and two short scenes as Larry the garage owner, he ended up staying for six, as chess master Stanley Kubrick’s opponent.

He told Kubrick’s biographer Vincent LoButto: “Stanley was a stronger player than I but I was strong enough to give him sufficient struggle to where he enjoyed it. I beat him in the first or second game we played, and then I didn’t win any more after that, but it was always a tight struggle. That’s what he loved; I guess there was no one else around that played strong.”

Despite appearing in all the 'Rocky’ movies in the 70s, 80s and 90s, his sister Kelley said that ill health had prevented him from seeing 'Creed’.

Image credit: PA/The Wrap