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Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone (born July 6, 1946), commonly known as Sylvester Stallone, and nicknamed Sly Stallone, is an American actor, filmmaker, screenwriter, film director and occasional painter. Two of the notable characters he has portrayed include boxer Rocky Balboa and soldier John Rambo. The Rocky and Rambo franchises, along with several other films, strengthened his reputation as an actor and his box office earnings.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa.

Stallone's film Rocky was inducted into the National Film Registry as well as having its film props placed in the Smithsonian Museum. Stallone's use of the front entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Rocky series led the area to be nicknamed the Rocky Steps. Philadelphia has a statue of his Rocky character placed permanently near the museum, on the right side before the steps. It was announced on December 7, 2010 that Stallone was voted into boxing's Hall of Fame.

Early life

Sylvester Stallone was born Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone[3] in New York City, the elder son of Frank Stallone, Sr., a hairdresser, and Jackie Stallone (born Jacqueline Labofish), an astrologer, former dancer, and promoter of women's wrestling. Stallone's father was born in Gioia del Colle, Apulia, Italy, and emigrated to the United States as a child.[4] Stallone's mother is of half Russian-Jewish and half French-American descent.[5][6]

Complications his mother suffered during labor forced her obstetricians to use two pairs of forceps during his birth; misuse of these accidentally severed a nerve and caused paralysis in parts of Stallone's face.[7][8] As a result, the lower left side of his face is paralyzed - including parts of his lip, tongue, and chin - an accident which has given Stallone his snarling look and slightly slurred speech.[8] Stallone was baptized Catholic.[9] His father, a beautician, moved the family to Washington, D.C., where he opened a beauty school. His mother opened a women's gymnasium called Barbella's in 1954.[10] His younger brother is actor and musician Frank Stallone. Their parents divorced when Sylvester was nine, and he eventually lived with his mother.[8] He attended Notre Dame Academy and Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia.[11] He attended Charlotte Hall Military Academy prior to attending Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.[12]

Hollywood career

When Stallone was nearly broke in New York, barely $50 to his name, he sold the script to Paradise Alley for $100.[13]

Italian Stallion and Score

Stallone had his first starring role in the soft-core porn feature film The Party at Kitty and Stud's (1970). He was paid $200 for two days' work.[14] Stallone later explained that he had done the film out of desperation after being evicted from his apartment and finding himself homeless for several days. He has also said that he slept three weeks in the New York City Port Authority bus station prior to seeing a casting notice for the film. In the actor's words, "it was either do that movie or rob someone, because I was at the end – the very end – of my rope".[15] The film was released several years later as Italian Stallion, in order to cash in on Stallone's new found fame (the new title was taken from Stallone's nickname since Rocky and a line from the film).

Stallone also starred in the erotic off-Broadway stage play Score which ran for 23 performances at the Martinique Theatre from October 28 – November 15, 1971 and was later made into a film by Radley Metzger.

Success with Rocky

Sylvester gained worldwide fame with his starring role in the smash hit Rocky (1976).[8] On March 24, 1975, Stallone saw the Muhammad Ali–Chuck Wepner fight, which inspired the foundation idea of Rocky. That night Stallone went home, and after three days,[16] 20 straight hours he had written the script. He tried to sell the script with the intention of playing the lead role.[8] Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler liked the script. Stallone was offered increasingly larger fees to sell the script and allow a different actor to star in the film, but he turned the offers down until the studio agreed to let Stallone himself play the role.[8]

Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay|Best Original Screenplay nominations for Stallone. The film went on to win the Academy Awards for Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Directing and for Best Film Editing.[17]

Additional roles

Following the success of Rocky, Stallone made his directorial debut and starred in the 1978 film Paradise Alley, a family drama in which he played one of three brothers who enter the world of wrestling. That same year he starred in Norman Jewison's F.I.S.T., a social drama in which he plays a warehouse worker, very loosely modeled on James Hoffa, who becomes involved in the labor union leadership. In 1981 he starred alongside Michael Caine in Escape to Victory, a sports drama in which he plays a prisoner of war involved in a Nazi propaganda soccer game. That same year he starred in the thriller Nighthawkd, in which he plays a New York city cop who plays a cat and mouse game with a foreign terrorist, played by Rutger Hauer.

More Rocky

In 1979, Stallone wrote, directed and starred in the sequel to his 1976 hit: Rocky II (replacing John G. Avildsen, who won an Academy Award for directing the first film), which also became a major success,[8] grossing $200 million. He also continued his box office success with the Rocky franchise and wrote, directed, and starred in two more sequels to the series: Rocky III (1982) and Rocky IV (1985). Stallone has portrayed these two characters in a total of ten films. In preparation for these roles, Stallone embarked upon a vigorous training regimen which often meant six days a week in the gym and further sit ups in the evenings. Stallone claims to have gotten his body fat percentage down to his all time low of 2.8% for Rocky III.[18] Stallone met former Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu to develop the appearance for Rocky II and Rambo II films, just as if he were preparing for the Mr. Olympia competition. That meant two workouts a day, six days a week[19]. Stallone starred in the fifth instalment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky V. It was considered a box office disappointment and was also disliked by fans as an unworthy entry in the series.

Rambo films

Sylvester launched another major franchise success, starring as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo, a former Green Beret, in the action-war film First Blood (1982). The first installment of Rambo was both a critical and box office success. Critics praised Stallone's performance, saying he made Rambo seem human, as opposed to the way he is portrayed in the book of the same name. Two Rambo sequels, Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Rambo III (1988), followed. Although box office hits, they met with much less critical praise than the original.

After the box office disappointment of Rocky V, he starred in two comedies, the critical and commercial disasters Oscar (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) during the early '90s. In 1993 he made a comeback with the hit Cliffhanger, which was a success in the US, grossing $84 million, but even more successful worldwide, grossing $171 million. Later that year, he starred with Wesley Snipes in the futuristic sci-fi/crime-action film Demolition Man, which grossed over $158 million worldwide. His string of hits continued with 1994's The Specialist (over $170 million worldwide gross). In 1995, he played the futuristic character Judge Dredd (from the British comic book 2000 AD) in Judge Dredd. His overseas box office appeal saved the domestic box office disappointment of Judge Dredd, which cost almost $100 million and barely made its budget back, with a worldwide tally of $113 million. He also appeared in the thriller Assassins (1995) with Julianne Moore and Antonio Banderas. In 1996, he starred in the disaster film Daylight, which was not very successful in the US, but grossed $126 million overseas.

2006–2008: Revisiting Rocky and Rambo

[ After a three-year hiatus from films, Stallone made a comeback in 2006 with the sixth installment of his successful Rocky series, Rocky Balboa, which was a critical and commercial hit. After the critical and box office failure of the previous installment Rocky V, Stallone had decided to write, direct and star in a sixth installment which would be a more appropriate climax to the series. The total domestic box office came to $70.3 million (and $155.7 million worldwide).[20] The budget of the movie was only $24 million. His performance in Rocky Balboa has been praised and garnered mostly positive reviews.[21]

Stallone's fourth instalment of his other successful movie franchise is titled simply Rambo (2008), which was sort of a reboot and at the same time, a continuation of the storyline of the franchise. The film opened in 2,751 theatres on January 25, 2008, grossing $6,490,000 on its opening day and $18,200,000 over its opening weekend. Its box office was $113,244,290 worldwide with a budget of $50 million.

Asked in February 2008 which of the icons he would rather be remembered for, Stallone said "it's a tough one, but Rocky is my first baby, so Rocky."[22]

Personal life

Stallone has been married three times. At age 28, on December 28, 1974, he married Sasha Czack from Pennsylvania. The couple had two sons, actor Sage Stallone (May 5, 1976 - July 13, 2012) and Seargeoh (b. 1979). His younger son was diagnosed with autism at an early age. The couple divorced on February 14, 1985. He married model and actress Brigitte Nielsen (who portrayed Ludmilla Drago in Rocky IV, on December 15, 1985, in Beverly Hills, California. Stallone and Nielsen's marriage, which lasted two years, and their subsequent divorce, were highly publicised by the tabloid press.[23][24][25] In May 1997, Stallone married model Jennifer Flavin, with whom he has three daughters.

After Sylvester's request that his acting and life experiences be accepted in exchange for his remaining credits, he was granted a Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) degree by the President of the University of Miami in 1999.[26]

His 48 year old half-sister, Toni Ann Filiti, died of lung cancer, six weeks after the death of his son, Sage. She succumbed to lung cancer on Sunday, August 26, 2012. She died at their mother Jackie Stallone's Santa Monica home after choosing to leave UCLA hospital.

Stallone stopped going to church as his acting career progressed but later rediscovered his childhood faith when his daughter was born ill in 1996, and is now an active Catholic.[27]


Known for physically demanding roles, and his willingness to do a majority of his own stunts, Stallone has suffered numerous injuries during his acting career. For a scene in Rocky IV, he told Dolph Lundgren "Punch me as hard as you can in the chest." "Next thing I know, I was in intensive care at St. John’s Hospital for four days. It’s stupid!". While filming a fight scene with actor "Stone Cold", Steve Austin in The Expendables, he broke his neck, which required the insertion of a metal plate.[28]


  1. Halperin, Ian (2010). The Governator LP: From Muscle Beach to His Quest for the White House, the Improbable Rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-200223-6, 9780062002235.
  2. states that Sylvester Stallone is 5 feet 8 inches tall
  3. Lennox, Dean (February 20, 2008). [[1] "Hollywood star is back on the big screen with latest outing for Rambo"]. Evening Times. [2]. Retrieved April 11, 2011.
  4. "Video of Stallone visiting Italy". Youtube. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  5. "Cinéma. Stallone est de Brest « même » !", Le Télégramme de Brest, October 6, 2009
  6. Stewart, Will (April 11, 2009). "Rambo-ski – Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone's Russian secret". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved April 11, 2009.
  7. The Biography Channel (2007). "Sylvester Stallone Biography". Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 1999
  9. Hainey, Michael (September 2010). "Yo.". GQ. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  10. Stallone, Sylvester. Sly Moves: My Proven Program to Lose Weight, Build Strength, Gian Will Power and Live Your Dream, Rogue Marble Productions, 2005, p. 12.
  11. Birnbaum, Aspen. "Stallone, Sylvester (Sly)". Pabook libraries. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  12. Charlotte Hall Military Academy Alumni
  13. As told to Tony Robbins
  14. Total Film. United Kingdom. August 2010. p. 111. Stallone: "I was broke and basically sleeping in the Port Authority bus station for three weeks straight. I read in a trade paper about this film (The Party at Kitty and Stud's) that was paying $100 a day—for a $100 a day I would wreak havoc. Instead of doing something desperate, I worked for two days for $200 and got myself out of the bus station."
  15. Sylvester Stallone interview, Playboy, September 1978.
  16. The Rocky Story by Sly Stallone
  17. "Rocky Award Wins and Nominations". Retrieved May 21, 2010.
  18. Berg, Michael. Muscle & Fitness, Sept. 2004.
  20. "Rocky Balboa at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  21. Balboa at RottenTomatoes[dead link]
  22. Sylvester Stallone: Rambo Returns, video interview with STV[dead link]
  23. Susan Zannos, Male Fitness Stars of TV and the Movies: Featuring Profiles of Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, and Wesley Snipes, Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2000, page 27
  24. Stallone divorce stops Tabloid presses, Sarasota Herald Tribune – july 23, 1987
  25. Stallone Seeks a Serious Turn for the Better, The New York Times, August 10, 1997
  26. University of Miami Alumni Page [dead link]
  27. Catholic Online. "‘Rocky’ Stallone back in church as new movie in theaters". Retrieved September 4, 2010.
  28. "Sylvester Stallone injures neck in fight scenes". BBC News. January 6, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2010.

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