Multiple sources are reporting that Tony Burton, the actor who portrayed trainer Tony "Duke" Evers in the first six Rocky films, has passed away at the age of 78. He was first seen in Rocky as Apollo Creed's trainer, but as the series progressed (aka Rocky Balboa needed to get the "eye of the tiger" starting in Rocky III), Duke became Rocky's trainer, even returning in that capacity for Rocky Balboa, the last Rocky film he was seen in.
Before his star turn in the Rocky franchise, Burton had roles in the comedy classic Stir Crazy as well as appearing in films like The Shining, Armed and Dangerous, and Hook. Prior to his career in Hollywood, Tony Burton was a boxer with a 4-3-1 record, which included him winning both the Flint Golden Gloves light heavyweight championship and the State Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championship in the 1950s.
TMZ reports that Burton had been ill, and was unable to even see Creed; the BBC is reporting that while the cause of Burton's death is unknown, his sister Loretta Kelly says that he'd been in and out of the hospital over the last year.
Carl Weathers, who portrayed Apollo Creed in the first four Rocky films, sent his condolences via Twitter:
Sylvester Stallone also posted his condolences via Instagram, and one has to imagine that Burton will be on his mind during this Oscars weekend.
Rest in peace, Tony Burton.