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Tony Burton

  • Birthplace: Flint, Michigan
  • Birthday: March 23
Date of passing: 
February 25, 2016

Obituary

Obituary: 

Tony Burton was an actor and professional heavyweight boxer best known for his role as Duke, the trainer of Rocky Balboa’s nemesis — and eventual friend — Apollo Creed, in the Rocky film franchise. Burton began playing the character in 1976, and reprised his role in Rocky II through V (1979, 1982, 1985 and 1990) and Rocky Balboa (2006).

Burton started boxing as an amateur with the Golden Gloves organization, and won two Flint Golden Gloves light-heavyweight titles, in 1955 and 1957. He fought professionally in the light-heavyweight division from 1958 to 1959 before retiring from the ring after a beloved coach died.

He also appeared in the films The River Niger, starring James Earl Jones; Heroes, with Henry Winkler, Sally Field and Harrison Ford; The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson; The Hunter, starring Steve McQueen; Stir Crazy, with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor; The Toy, with Pryor and Jackie Gleason; Armed and Dangerous, with John Candy, Meg Ryan and Eugene Levy; and Hook, with Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams and Julia Roberts.

Tony Burton was an actor and professional heavyweight boxer best known for his role as Duke, the trainer of Rocky Balboa’s nemesis — and eventual friend — Apollo Creed, in the Rocky film franchise. Burton began playing the character in 1976, and reprised his role in Rocky II through V (1979, 1982, 1985 and 1990) and Rocky Balboa (2006).

Burton started boxing as an amateur with the Golden Gloves organization, and won two Flint Golden Gloves light-heavyweight titles, in 1955 and 1957. He fought professionally in the light-heavyweight division from 1958 to 1959 before retiring from the ring after a beloved coach died.

He also appeared in the films The River Niger, starring James Earl Jones; Heroes, with Henry Winkler, Sally Field and Harrison Ford; The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson; The Hunter, starring Steve McQueen; Stir Crazy, with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor; The Toy, with Pryor and Jackie Gleason; Armed and Dangerous, with John Candy, Meg Ryan and Eugene Levy; and Hook, with Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams and Julia Roberts.

Additionally, Burton appeared on television, including roles on the series Kojak, The Invisible Man, Baretta, Good Times, The Six Million Dollar Man, Sanford and Son, The Rockford Files, CHiPs, T.J. Hooker, The A-Team, Moonlighting, Twin Peaks, NYPD Blue, Chicago Hope and The Magnificent Seven.

He also had a recurring role as Big Arthur on the late-1980s comedy Frank’s Place, about a Boston professor who inherits a restaurant in New Orleans.

Burton died February 25, 2016, in Menifee, California. He was 78.

 

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