Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone (born July 6, 1946) is an American actor, director, director and screenwriter. One of the biggest box office draws in the world from the '70s to the '90s, international megastar Sylvester Stallone is a global icon of machismo and Hollywood action heroism. He has played two characters who have become a part of the American cultural lexicon: Rocky Balboa, the boxer who overcame all odds to fight for love and glory, and John Rambo, a courageous soldier who specialized in violent rescue and revenge missions.
During the 1980s, he enjoyed phenomenal popularity and was one of the biggest movie stars in the world with the Rocky and Rambo franchises. Stallone's culturally influential films changed pop culture history and he has largely enjoyed a career on the Hollywood A list for over 30 years.
He is considered by many (including the mayor of Philadelphia) as the one who made the city of Philadelphia an international tourist attraction with the Rocky Steps. His immense popularity there has led to a statue of his Rocky character being placed permanently near the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a cultural landmark. In August 2007, a statue of Rocky was also erected in the Serbian village of Žitište. Stallone's film Rocky has also been inducted into the National Film Registry as well as having its film props placed in the Smithsonian Museum as a national treasure.
Stallone was born in New York City, the son of Jackie Stallone (née Jacqueline Labofish), an Astrologer, former dancer and promoter of women's wrestling, and Frank Stallone, Sr., a hairdresser. Birth complications caused partial paralysis in parts of Stallone's face, resulting in his signature slurred speech and drooping lower lip. Stallone attended 8th grade at Montgomery Hills Junior High School in Silver Spring, MD. Stallone grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and attended Lincoln High School, whose band plays at the dedication of the Rocky statue in Rocky III.
He later attended Bishop Snyder High School in Silver Spring, Maryland for a semester. In the 1960s, Stallone attended the American College of Switzerland in Leysin, and the University of Miami for three years. He came within a few credit hours of graduation before he decided to drop out and pursue an acting career. After Stallone'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.
Other famous members in Stallone's family are his brother, actor/singer Frank Stallone and his mother, Jackie Stallone, who achieved notoriety in the middle 1990s as an astrologist and as a professional wrestler. Stallone's pet Bullmastiff, Butkus, appeared in both Rocky and Rocky II as an often-teased favorite pet of Balboa's who lived in Adrian's pet shop.
Stallone has been married three times, to Sasha Czack (1974–1985), Brigitte Nielsen (1985–1987), and Jennifer Flavin (1997— ). He has five children, sons Sage Moonblood and Seargeoh, who is autistic (with Czack, born 1976 and 1979 respectively), and daughters Sophia Rose, Sistine Rose and Scarlet Rose (with Flavin, born 1996, 1998, 2002 respectively). He and Flavin, an Irish-American, were married at Winston Churchill's birthplace, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England. In addition to these marriages, he has had romantic relationships with models Susan Anton, Angie Everhart, Naomi Campbell, and Janice Dickinson.
Stallone claims to have been able to Bench press 385-400 lbs (174.6-181.4 kg) and squat 500 lbs (226.8 kg) in his prime. While in a bench pressing contest with former Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu, he severely tore his pectoral muscle and needed over 160 stitches on it. This is why one half of his chest is more vascular than the other.
Stallone is a Philadelphia sports fan (Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, Phillies) and is also an Everton FC fan. On January 14 2007, Stallone was at Goodison Park to promote Rocky Balboa, and to watch Everton take on Reading Football Club in an English Premier League game. The match ended as a 1–1 draw. Stallone paraded on the field at half time adorned in a home team scarf and received a warm reception from the 40,000 fans. Stallone has claimed to be a keen soccer fan since filming Victory in the 1980s and now claims to be an official Everton fan.
In July 2007, Stallone had a tattoo done by world renowned tattoo artist Mike Devries on his upper right arm of a portrait of his wife, Jennifer Flavin. Incorporated into the tattoo are three roses for their three girls that have Rose for middle names. The tattoo took about 14 hours and isn't finished, it will be expanded onto Stallone's chest a bit.
Growth hormone controversyEdit
On February 16 2007, Stallone flew into Sydney, Australia as part of his promotional tour for Rocky Balboa. Upon landing he was searched by Australia officials, who found 48 vials of the human growth hormone (HGH) Jintropin in his personal luggage. As a result of this, he was charged one count of importing a prohibited import. The hormones are banned under the Australian Customs Act and are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. In a court hearing on May 15, 2007, he pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing a controlled substance. On May 21, 2007 he was formally convicted of importing restricted muscle-building hormones into Australia and ordered to pay $9,870 in fines and court costs.
Italian Stallion and ScoreEdit
Stallone had his first starring role in the softcore feature film Party at Kitty and Stud's (1970), which was later re-released as Italian Stallion .(the title taken from Stallone's nickname and a line from the film) and Rocky. He was paid US$200 for two days work. An "uncut" version of the film was released in 2007, purporting to show actual hardcore footage of Stallone, but according to trade journal AVN (magazine) the hardcore scenes were inserts not involving the actor. In 2008, scenes from Party at Kitty and Stud's surfaced in a German version of Roger Colmont's hardcore-film White Fire (1976).
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.
Early film roles, 1971-1975Edit
Stallone's other first few film roles were minor, and included brief uncredited appearances in Woody Allen's Bananas (1971) as a subway thug, in the psychological thriller Klute (1971) as an extra dancing in a club, and in the Jack Lemmon vehicle The Prisoner Of Second Avenue (1975) as a youth. In the Lemmon film, Jack Lemmon chases, tackles and mugs Stallone, thinking that Stallone's character is a pickpocket. He had his second starring role in the cult hit The Lords of Flatbush (1974). In 1975, he played supporting roles in Farewell, My Lovely, Capone and, another cult hit, Death Race 2000. He also made guest appearances on the TV series Police Story and Kojak.
Success with Rocky, 1976Edit
Stallone did not gain world-wide fame until his starring role in the smash hit Rocky (1976). The film was awarded with the 1976 Academy Award. On March 24, 1975, Stallone saw the Ali-Chuck Wepner fight which inspired the foundation idea of Rocky. That night Stallone went home, and in three days he had written the script for Rocky. After that, he tried to sell the script with the intention of playing the lead role. Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler in particular liked the script (which was suggested by Stallone after a casting), and planned on courting a star like Burt Reynolds or James Caan for the lead role. The final result was an unequalled success; Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards in all, including Academy Award and Academy Award
The early drafts of Rocky portrayed him as a darker character. It was only after his wife read it and expressed her dislike that Stallone changed it to the warmer version seen in the movies.
Rocky, Rambo and new film roles, 1978-1989Edit
The sequel Rocky II which Stallone had also written and directed was released in 1979 and also became a major success, grossing US$200 mil.
Apart from the Rocky films, Stallone did many other films in the late 1970s and early 1980s which were critically acclaimed but were not successful at the box office. He received critical praise for films such as F.I.S.T. (1978), a social, epic styled drama in which he plays a warehouse worker who becomes involved in the labor union leadership and Paradise Alley (1978), a family drama in which he plays one of three brothers who is a con artist and who helps his other brother who is involved in wrestling.
In the early 1980s he starred alongside British veteran Michael Caine in Escape to Victory (1981), a sports drama in which he plays a prisoner of war involved in a Nazi propaganda football (soccer) tournament. Stallone then made the action thriller film Nighthawks (1981), in which he plays a New York city cop who plays a cat and mouse game with a foreign terrorist, played by Rutger Hauer.
Stallone had another major franchise success as Vietnam veteran John Rambo in the action adventure film First Blood (1982). The first instalment of Rambo was both a critical and box office success. The 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, First Blood and in the other films. 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. 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).
It was during this time period that Stallone's work cultivated a strong overseas following. He also attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, roles in different genres when he wrote and starred in the comedy film Rhinestone (1984) where he played a wannabe country music singer and the drama film Over the Top (1987) where he played a truck driver who enters an Arm wrestling competition to impress his estranged son. These films did not do well at the box office and were poorly received by critics. The action films Cobra (1986) and Tango and Cash (1989) did solid business domestically but overseas they did blockbuster business grossing over $100 million in foreign markets and over $160 million worldwide. The Rocky and Rambo franchises at the end of the decade were billion dollar franchises internationally.
With the then recent success of Lock Up and Tango and Cash, at the start of the 1990s Stallone starred in the fifth installment of the Rocky franchise Rocky V which was considered a box office disappointment and was also disliked by fans as an unworthy entry in the series. It was intended to have been the last installment in the franchise at the time.
After starring in the critical and commercial disasters Oscar (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) during the early 90s, he made a major comeback in 1993 with the blockbuster hit Cliffhanger which became an enormously successful film grossing over US$255 million worldwide. Later that year he enjoyed another hit with the Futuristic action film Demolition Man which grossed in excess of $158 million worldwide. His string of hits continued with 1994's The Specialist (over $170 million worldwide gross).
In 1995 he played the Comic book based title character Judge Dredd who was taken from the popular British comic book "2000 AD" in the film of the same name. His overseas box office appeal saved the domestic box office disappointment of Judge Dredd with a worldwide tally of $113 million. He also appeared in the thriller Assassins (1995) with co stars Julianne Moore and Antonio Banderas. In 1996 he starred in the Disaster movie Daylight (film) which made only $33 million in the U.S but was a major hit overseas taking in over $126 million, totalling $159,212,469 worldwide.
That same year Stallone, along with an all-star cast of celebrities, appeared in the Trey Parker and Matt Stone short comedy film Your Studio and You commissioned by the Seagram Company for a party celebrating their acquisition of Universal Studios and the MCA Corporation. Stallone speaks in his Rocky Balboa voice with subtitles translating what he was saying. At one point, Stallone starts yelling about how can they use his Balboa character, that he left it in the past; the narrator calms him with a wine cooler and calling him, "brainiac." In response, Stallone says, "Thank you very much." He then looks at the wine cooler and exclaims, "Fucking cheap studio!"
Following his breakthrough performance in Rocky, critic Roger Ebert had once said Stallone could become the next Marlon Brando, though he never quite recaptured the critical acclaim achieved with Rocky. Stallone did, however, go on to receive much acclaim for his role in the Crime drama Cop Land (1997) in which he starred alongside Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta, but the film was only a minor success at the box office. His performance led him to win the Stockholm International Film Festival Best Actor Award. In 1998 he did voice-over work for the Computer-animated film Antz, which grossed over 90 million domestically.
As the new millennium began, Stallone starred in the thriller Get Carter — a remake of the 1971 British Michael Caine film — but the film was poorly received by both critics and audiences. Stallone's career declined considerably after his subsequent films Driven (2001), Avenging Angelo (2002) and D-Tox (2002) also underachieved expectations to do well at the box office and were poorly received by critics.
In 2000, Stallone received a special "Worst Actor of the Century" Razzie award, citing "95% of Everything He's Ever Done" rather than an individual movie. By 2000, Stallone had been awarded four Worst Actor Razzie awards for individual movies, a "Worst Screen Couple" Razzie, and a "Worst Actor of the Decade" Razzie for the 1980s. He had been nominated for the Worst Actor award for nine consecutive years from 1984 to 1992.
In 2003, he played a villainous role in the third instalment of the Spy Kids trilogy Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over which was a huge box office success (almost $200 million worldwide). Stallone also had a cameo appearance in the 2003 French film Taxi 3 as a passenger.
Following several poorly reviewed box office flops, Stallone started to regain prominence for his supporting role in the neo-noir crime drama Shade (2003) which was a box office failure but was praised by critics. He was also attached to star and direct a film about the murder of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, entitled Notorious, but the film was shelved due to legal issues.
In 2005, he was the co-presenter alongside Sugar Ray Leonard of the NBC Reality television boxing series The Contender. That same year he also made a guest appearance in two episodes of the television series Las Vegas. In 2005, Stallone also inducted wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, who appeared in Rocky III as a wrestler named Thunderlips, into the WWE Hall of Fame; Stallone was also the person who offered Hogan the cameo in Rocky III.
Revisiting Rocky and Rambo, 2006-2008Edit
After a few years hiatus from films, Stallone made a comeback in 2006 with the sixth and final installment of his successful Rocky series; Rocky Balboa, which was both a critical and commercial hit. After the critical and box office failure of the previous and presumed last installment Rocky V, Stallone had decided to end the series with a sixth installment which would be a more appropriate climax to the series. The total domestic box office came to $70.3 million (and $155.3 million worldwide). The budget of the movie was only $24 million. His performance in Rocky Balboa has been praised and garnered mostly positive reviews.
Stallone's newest release is the fourth installment of his other successful movie franchise, Rambo, with the sequel being titled simply Rambo. The film opened in 2,751 theaters on January 25 2008, grossing $6,490,000 on its opening day and $18,200,000 over its opening weekend. Its current box office stands at $42,653,401 in the US and $112,481,829 worldwide.
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."
On the UK talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on February 16, 2008 while promoting the film Rambo, Stallone personally rated the Rocky films in order of his own personal preference, as:
- Rocky - 10/10
- Rocky II - 7.5/10
- Rocky III - 9/10
- Rocky IV - 7.5/10
- Rocky V - 0/10
For Rocky 6, Rocky Balboa, Stallone gave no rating, merely commenting, "the end". Asked by Ross if he might continue the franchise, he dismissed the idea on account of his age, replying "Who would he be fighting? Arthritis?". On the other hand, after Rocky III he made a similar comment to a similar question, saying "What's next? Rocky in space?"
He has signed a contract with Nu Image Films for two action movies (one of which could be another 'Rambo'). The Death Wish remake is still supposed to be his next film, as reported by Empire Magazine, followed by a fifth Rambo which has been reported as in pre-production stage.
Stallone's début as a director came in 1978 with Paradise Alley, which he also wrote and starred in. In addition, he directed Staying Alive (the sequel to Saturday Night Fever), along with Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa, and Rambo.
In August 2005, Stallone released his book Sly Moves which claimed to be a guide to fitness and nutrition as well as a candid insight into his life and works from his own perspective. The book also contained many photographs of Stallone throughout the years as well as pictures of him performing exercises.
In addition to writing all six Rocky films, Stallone also wrote Cobra, Driven and Rambo. He has co-written several other films, such as F.I.S.T., Rhinestone, Over the Top and the first three Rambo films. His last major success as a co-writer came with 1993's Cliffhanger.
Stallone owns shares in Planet Hollywood restaurants with Bruce Willis and formerly Arnold Schwarzenegger (who has since sold his part).
Competition with Arnold SchwarzeneggerEdit
Stallone has been long considered as a chief competitor to Arnold Schwarzenegger as an action hero actor. References to this have been made in both of their films. In Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero, Stallone is depicted as playing The Terminator in a video advertisement in the film's alternate reality. In Stallone's Demolition Man, there's a futuristic reference to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Presidential Library.
- Nicolas Barbano: Verdens 25 hotteste pornostjerner (Rosinante, Denmark 1999) ISBN 87-7357-961-0: Features a chapter on his relation to adult cinema.