Actor Tony Burton, best known for portraying Tony “Duke” Evers in six Rocky films, passed away on Thursday of complications from pneumonia. He was 78.
Before acting, Burton played collegiate football and had a brief career as a professional boxer. This would prepare him for his best known role. Aside from Rocky, Burton also appeared in movies like Assault on Precinct 13, The Shining and Stir Crazy.
“Duke” didn’t have a lot of dialogue in the Rocky films, yet he was a pivotal character in the series. When he did speak, it mattered as when he tried to warn Apollo Creed’s entourage that he should take Rocky Balboa seriously, when he tried to talk Apollo out of fighting Rocky in Rocky II, the enthusiasm with which he said he was glad that he and Rocky were on the same side in Rocky III or when he disclosed to Rocky after Apollo’s death in Rocky IV that he raised him (please see the video above).
Burton was unable to reprise his role in Creed due to poor health. After learning of his death, Sylvester Stallone wrote, “Tony Burton who played the character of Duke brilliantly in all six Rocky movies…Rest in peace.”