Tony Burton

Tony Burton

Born: March 23, 1937
Died: February 25, 2016 (at age 78)
Birthplace: Flint, Michigan, US

Anthony "Tony" Burton (March 23, 1937 - February 25, 2016) was an American actor, comedian, boxer, and football player. He was best known for his role as Tony "Duke" Evers in the Rocky franchise.

Early life

Burton was born in Flint, Michigan. He had a younger sister named Loretta. A Flint Northern High School graduate, he was a Michigan Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champion and two-time all-state football player. At Northern, he played halfback. In 1954, he scored 13 touchdowns and led his team in scoring. Many of his scoring runs were of 50 yards or more. He gained 820 yards rushing that year, and one of his runs was for 95 yards. That same year, he was selected to the first teams of the All City and All Valley teams as a halfback. He was also chosen as an All State honorable mention. He was the team's co-captain and Most Valuable Player. Burton led his team in yards gained and receiving yards. In one game against Grand Rapids Catholic, he gained 213 total yards. At Northern, Burton was also the leading baseball pitcher, pitching the team to the city championship title.



Burton's boxing career included the Flint Golden Gloves light heavyweight championship in 1955 and 1957. Burton won the State Golden Gloves Light Heavyweight Championship in 1957 and lost in the Chicago Tournament of Champions semi-finals. He fought as a professional boxer in 1958 and 1959. During that time he was knocked out by knockout artist, Lamar Clark, who holds the record for most consecutive knockouts at 44.


Life after boxing, minus any marketable skills or a high school diploma, proved a poor formula for success, and before long, Burton wound up in prison, doing three and a half years for robbery at the California Institution for Men in Chino, California. In the end, it proved a valuable experience as Burton recounted to NEA's Frank Sanello in March 1988:

Prison for me was productive because I got my high school diploma and a degree from the University of California. But most important, I got myself together and found out who I was and how I could proceed without destroying myself.

More specifically, one of the skills acquired at Chino landed Burton his wife, Rae, whom he met on a TV repair house call. Moreover, a workshop in the prison, that used psychodrama as a form of therapy, pointed Burton towards his acting career, when an emotional breakthrough achieved by one of his partners in an acting exercise dramatically demonstrated theater's potential power.


After prison, Burton started getting work with small theater companies in and around Los Angeles, garnering favorable notices early on.

A life member of the Actors Studio, Burton numbers among his many credits a co-starring role in Frank's Place and parts in films, such as Stir Crazy and The Toy. He also appeared as Wells, one of the prisoners trapped in the besieged police station, Precinct 9, Division 13, and in John Carpenter's 1976 Howard Hawks-inspired action film, Assault on Precinct 13. He later starred in the Rocky films as a trainer to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). He appeared in an episode of Gibbsville in 1976. Burton also appeared in The Shining and Hook. He had guest appearances in Kojak, The Rockford Files, CHiPs, Twin Peaks, and The A-Team.

Personal life

Burton was married twice, to Aurelian and to Rae, though the dates of both marriages are unknown.

Burton resided in California for 30 years. He attended Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, California. He had two sons, one of whom, Martin, died of a heart attack at the age of 43 on May 8, 2014. He also had two daughters, Juanita and Christal.

Burton was a talented chess player. Stanley Kubrick was defeated by him on the set of The Shining, in which Burton played Larry Durkin, the garage owner. Speaking with Kubrick biographer Vincent LoButto, Burton recalled his first day on the set:

My contract was for a week. I just had two short scenes in the movie. I stayed for six weeks because Stanley and I were playing chess... 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.


In 1993, Burton was inducted into the Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame.


Burton had been frequently hospitalized for the last year of his life, according to his sister. On February 25, 2016, he died at the age of 78, from complications of pneumonia at a hospital in Menifee, California.



Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Black Godfather Sonny Spyder Brown A blaxploitation film, directed and written by John Evans.
1976 Trackdown Zelds Crime drama exploitation film, directed by Richard T. Heffron.
The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings Issac A comedic sports film, directed by John Badham.
Rocky Tony "Duke" Evers Sports drama film, directed by John G. Avildsen, and both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone.
Assault on Precinct 13 Wells Action thriller film written, directed, scored, and edited by John Carpenter.
1977 Beyond Reason Dangerman An independent film, written and directed by, and starring Telly Savalas.
Heroes Chef Drama film, directed by Jeremy Kagan.
1978 Blackjack Charles Crime drama film, written and directed by John Evans.
1979 Rocky II Tony "Duke" Evers
  • Written and directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone.
  • Sequel to the 1976 film Rocky.
1980 The Shining Larry Durkin Psychological horror film, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick.
The Hunter Garbageman #2 Thriller film, directed by Buzz Kulik.
Stir Crazy Guy Who Punches Big Mean
Inside Moves Lucius
  • Drama film, directed by Richard Donner
  • Based on the book of the same name by Todd Walton.
1982 Rocky III Tony "Duke" Evers
  • Third installment in the Rocky film series.
  • Sports-drama film, written and directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone.
1985 Rocky IV Tony "Duke" Evers
  • Fourth installment in the Rocky film series.
  • Sports film, written and directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone.
1986 Armed and Dangerous Cappy Action-crime comedy film, directed by Mark L. Lester.
1990 Side Out Louie Directed by Peter Israelson.
Rocky V Tony "Duke" Evers
  • Fifth film in the Rocky series.
  • Sports drama film, written by Sylvester Stallone.
1991 Hook Bill Jukes Fantasy adventure film, directed by Steven Spielberg.
House Party 2 Mr. Lee Sequel to the 1990 film House Party, directed by Doug McHenry and George Jackson.
2003 Shade Fedora Neo-noir crime drama film, directed and written by Damian Nieman.
2006 Rocky Balboa Tony "Duke" Evers
  • Also known as Rocky VI.
  • Sports drama film, written and directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone.
2007 Hack! Sheriff Stoker Horror film, directed and written by Matt Flynn.


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Kojak Eddie Ellis Episode: "The Betrayal" (Season 2: Episode 14)
1975 The Invisible Man 3rd Prisoner Episode: "Go Directly To Jail" (Season 1: Episode 7)
Baretta Teak Episode: "Count the Days I'm Gone" (Season 2: Episode 12)
1976 Harry O Peter Macklin Episode: "Ruby" (Season 2: Episode 20)
Future Cop Terrorist #2 Episode: "Future Cop (Pilot)" (Season 1: Episode 1)
Gemini Man Biggie Moore
  • Episode: "8, 9, 10...You're Dead" (Season 1: Episode 9)
  • Unaired
Good Times Aide Episode: "Evans Versus Davis" (Season 4: Episode 6)
Gibbsville Guest Episode: "All the Young Girls" (Season 1: Episode 5)
1977 Switch Joey Episode: "The Snitch" (Season 2: Episode 14)
The Six Million Dollar Man Manager Episode: "The Infiltrators" (Season 4: Episode 18)
Sanford and Son Guard Episode: "Fred the Activist" (Season 6: Episode 21)
The Rockford Files Joe Moran Episode: "Second Chance" (Season 4: Episode 4)
1978 The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Gilmore Lee Episode: "The Lady on Thursday at Ten"
C.P.O. Sharkey Scotty Episode: "Tell It to the Marines" (Season 2: Episode 15)
1979 The Incredible Hulk Taylor George Episode: "Like a Brother" (Season 2: Episode 14)
1980 Tenspeed and Brown Shoe Skeeter McClintock Episode: "Savage Says 'There's No Free Lunch'" (Season 1: Episode 3)
1981 Fitz and Bones Sid Episode: "Terror at Newsline 3 (Pilot)" (Season 1: Episode 1)
The Greatest American Hero Curley Episode: "Hog Wild" (Season 2: Episode 4)
CHiPs Avrom Episode: "Mitchell & Woods" (Season 5: Episode 12)
Quincy, M.E. Starvin' Marvin Episode: "Dead Stop" (Season 7: Episode 8)
1982 The Fall Guy Ricco Episode: "Ladies On the Ropes" (Season 1: Episode 16)
Bret Maverick Arthur Episodes:
  • "Faith, Hope And Clarity, part 1" (Season 1: Episode 14)
  • "Faith, Hope And Clarity, part 2" (Season 1: Episode 15)
T.J. Hooker Luther Travis Episode: "Blind Justice (a.k.a. Blind Watch)" (Season 2: Episode 4)
1984 The A-Team Burke Episode: "It's a Desert Out There" (Season 2: Episode 18)
1985 Moonlighting Bartender Episode: "Gunfight at the So-So Corral" (Season 1: Episode 3)
1986 Airwolf Moose Episode: "Wildfire" (Season 3: Episode 3)
The Fall Guy Eddie Barber Episode: "The Bigger They Are" (Season 5: Episode 22)
1987 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Moustache Episode: "You Ruined My Life"
1987-1988 Frank's Place Big Arthur Contract role
1988 The Wil Shriner Show Himself Episode: "March 18, 1988" (Season 1: Episode 120)
Police Story Guest Episode: "The Cop Killers" (Season 6: Episode 1)
1989 Amen Officer Anderson Episode: "TV or Not TV" (Season 4: Episode 7)
1990 In the Heat of the Night Conrad Baylor Episode: "King's Ransom" (Season 3: Episode 10)
A Different World Cap Connors Episode: "A Campfire Story" (Season 3: Episode 18)
Over My Dead Body Curly Episode: "Dad and Buried" {Season 1: Episode 4)
1991 Twin Peaks Colonel Riley Episode: "Episode Nineteen 'The Black Widow'" (Season 2: Episode 12)
Adam-12 Guest Episode: "The Fighter" (Season 2: Episode 26)
1996 NYPD Blue Floyd "Good News" Gates Episode: "Burnin' Love" (Season 3: Episode 11)
Poltergeist: The Legacy Simon Walters Episode: "The Inheritance" (Season 1: Episode 19)
Chicago Hope Dr. Joseph Little Episode: "Divided Loyalty" (Season 3: Episode 9)
1998 The Magnificent Seven Tennessee Eban Episode: "Pilot" (Season 1: Episode 1)
2000 Dark Knight De Montfort Episode: "Pilot" (Season 1: Episode 1)
2001 The Lot Jerome Jeter Episode: "Nebraska Johnston" (Season 2: Episode 6)
2003 Mercy Peak Norm Somerville Episode: "When Ken Met Wendy" (Season 5: Episode 7)
Exorcism Bishop Harris Made-for-TV-movie, directed and written by William A. Baker.
2011 Biography Himself/ Tony "Duke" Evers Episode: "The Rocky Saga: Going the Distance"


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Cyber Track 2 Swain Directed by Richard Pepin.

Professional boxing record

Result Record Opponent Type Round Time Date Location Notes
Loss 4-3-1 Clark ! Lamar Clark KO 4 April 4, 1959 Polo Grounds, Palm Springs, California
Loss 4-2-1 Sands ! Bobby Sands KO 4 February 21, 1959 Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California
Win 4-1-1 Chaney ! Dennis Chaney KO 2 June 14, 1958 Legion Stadium, Hollywood
Win 3-1-1 Wilburn 3 ! Chuck Wilburn Decision 4 April 7, 1958 Bakersfield Dome, Bakersfield, California
Loss 2-1-1 Lee ! Curley Lee KO 4 February 8, 1958 Legion Stadium, Hollywood
Win 2-0-1 Wilburn 2 ! Chuck Wilburn Decision 4 January 30, 1958 Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California
Draw 1-0-1 Wilburn 1 ! Chuck Wilburn Decision 4 January 28, 1958 Arena, San Bernardino, California
Win 1-0 Smith ! Bob Smith KO 4 January 4, 1958 Legion Stadium, Hollywood

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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