Life is an opponent that never stops punching so you better never stop punching back, some sage advice from Rocky himself.
It’s kind of hard to imagine this champion of champions anywhere. But the top but there were times when this actor was living on the streets and in the intensive care unit. I’m your host nostalgic nick and we’ve got the full story of Sly’s humble roots and grand rise to the top. A story that could be a film itself and certainly inspired his iconic underdog character. So if you’re feeling pumped, be sure to punch that thumbs-up icon for us, and don’t forget to subscribe so you catch our next bout with a future icon.
The Face Of A Champion
Sylvester Stallone was born on July 6, 1946. His mother suffered from complications during birth. So the doctors used forceps to help deliver but unfortunately, those forceps weren’t handled correctly, one of them severing a nerve that paralyzed parts of the boy’s face, specifically his lip, chin, and even his tongue. The accident gave Stallone his signature look and speech pattern he became known for. And although no one would dare pick on Rocky Balboa, this young boy named Sylvester had to deal with his fair share of schoolyard bullies, aiding to his underdog fight.
A House Divided Cannot Stand
Sylvester Stallone’s upbringing was not smooth. He grew up in hell’s kitchen back when it was still pretty rough and inside his apartment walls, things weren’t much better. His parents fought quite a bit and he ended up in foster care after they split and he was always in trouble either for grades or for fighting. He was eventually expelled and adults told him his brain was dormant. Sly reportedly said he felt like Mr. Potato Head with all the parts in the wrong places.
Stallone turned to exercise and bodybuilding. A few states and some dozen schools later, Sly finally graduated high school and got a brief fresh start when he studied in Switzerland before coming back to the States for his drama education.
Stallone worked some odd jobs on his way up. His first film credit was in the x-rated 1970 film The Party at Kitty and Studs. He was desperate for a job being evicted from his apartment and sleeping in the port authority bus terminal, which if you’ve ever been there, you know it’s not a good place to rest. Stallone remarked, “It was either do that movie or rob someone because I was at the end, at the very end of my rope. Instead of doing something desperate, I worked 2 days for $200.” They even re-released the film after Rocky’s success with covers displaying nicknames like the Italian Stallion.
But between looking for work, Stallone read constantly and he learned how to tell stories. When he began landing acting jobs, they were often small roles. But finally, thanks to 2 films, The Lords of Flatbush and No Place to Hide, Sylvester Stallone finally got a taste of stardom. His appetite was now wet and he was geared up for a fight.
Float Like A Butterfly
March 24, 1975, Ohio’s Richfield Coliseum, host of the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner in a truly career-defining moment, where the greatest boxer of all time did claim victory but Chuck Wepner lasted way longer than anyone expected. An inspiring story that could be a movie. Well, Stallone thought so too. And after watching that iconic clash, he bunkered down to write himself a script. And it took sly all of 3 days to write one of the most enduring sports films of all time but it took much longer to get backing for the film and rejection was plentiful.
Finally, the Studio United Artists agreed that it would be Sly to star. Executives figured their upcoming Scorsese film New York New York would pay for itself and this crazy sports hail mary. But as it turned out, Rocky would be the one covering for De Niro’s failed box office smash as Rocky’s 117 million broke records and it’s certainly a huge highlight for Sly’s career. But his life has been plenty eventful outside the ring too.
No Pain, No Gain
Between Rocky, Rambo, and Cliffhanger, Stallone is the quintessential action hero and many of his stunts were practical and that meant the blows were too. The most infamous was Rocky IV. The iconic Rocky versus Drago fight, where Stallone told Dolph Lundgren not to hold back and to really hit him and boy, did he listen.
So well in fact, that one minute Stallone was fighting and the next he was in the ICU with a swollen heart. Blood pressure of 260 and surrounded by nuns ready to give him his final rights. Sly would be out of commission for a few days while recovering. He also took a nasty fall while filming The Expendables, dislocating his shoulder and breaking his spine and neck.
Both shoulders have had work done and he’s received 70 stitches from just one injury. So obviously, doctors told him to stay off his own stunts. But in typical Sly fashion he said, “Old habits die hard”, but wait, that’s Bruce Willis. Oh, never mind. Some of his war scars are now covered with ink. A tattoo of his wife covers a wound from Rocky Balboa. He’s also got 3 roses to represent his daughters, who probably also want dad to stop doing his own stunts.
Don’t try this at home!
Hit the montage music. What did it take to build up that wall of muscle? For Rocky 2, Stallone was on a high-protein diet that made him feel miserable. It offered little energy. So he was often lightheaded when he did consume something, it was 25 cups of coffee, some tuna fish and small amounts of oatmeal cookies. His workout routine depends on the film. For the first 2 Rockys, he wanted to be bulky. Then in later films, he wanted to be slim, just never forget to stretch.
Love And Loss
Sylvester Stallone has had his fair share of relationships. While breaking into the industry, he lived with his girlfriend and fellow aspiring actor Sasha, who actually helped with some of the writing for Rocky. The two married in 1974 and had two kids but split up in 1985. Then came his marriage to model Brigitte Nielsen. They, of course, met on the set of Rocky IV but their divorce followed just 2 years in and the media ate that story up.
Stallone was then briefly engaged to yet another model Janice Dickinson. But when it turned out her daughter wasn’t biologically his, they split up and Stallone practically repeated the process, minus the mystery child, with Angie Everhart. And by 1997, he was now all about Jennifer Flavin and the 2 did have 3 daughters of their own, except that relationship with Dickinson had interrupted things for Stallone and Flavin to the point that he briefly cut ties by sending her a letter through FedEx.
But Flavin entered this relationship believing the best of people and she continued to do so when they got back together. And over 2 decades of marriage later, Stallone is the number one Flavin fan and hopefully has put the days of cheating long behind him.
A Family Matter
While Sylvester Stallone lives in the spotlight, his son Sergio does not. Sergio was diagnosed with autism and when Sly and Sasha split, they agreed that Sasha would pursue autism research and Sly would provide money under the National Society for Children and Adults with Autism. Sergio wasn’t especially verbal and growing up could feel lonely for his brother Sage. Sly took Sage under his wing and got him into the acting world. When Sage would go to work with Stallone for Rocky 5 and Daylight. But terribly in 2012, Sage was found dead in his Los Angeles home. The death attributed to heart disease, something his daughter Sophia also suffered from. And Sophia underwent open-heart surgery later that year.
Sly has been at the center of quite a few unsavory allegations. He’s also had his share of death threats. For 2008’s fourth Rambo installment, they filmed in Burma, also called Myanmar, which was right in the throes of a civil war and many citizens didn’t want the film to be made during an insidious civil war that had gone on for 60 years. Sly was unharmed physically but it didn’t keep him from seeing the real consequences of war. Limbs blown off and infections rampant, it was a front-row seat to suffering but it actually made Stallone all the more determined to film Rambo there to show people what they weren’t seeing. He said, “I think this is a story that needs to be told.”
Actor, scriptwriter, director, producer, he does it all and Sly is also a painter. In fact, Rocky existed in portrait form before he was chugging up those steps in philly. Stallone painted his dream hero, a guy that came from nothing and would rise to the top. He kept his passion project quiet for ages but now he’s got collections hanging around the world, all filled with bold colors and raw strength, exactly the stuff he took inspiration from. His two loves movies and paintings both get his attention now and we’re excited for his August 2022 project Samaritan, all about a fallen superhero and the wide-eyed hopeful boy who wants him to put the cape back on.
Today Sly is in his mid-70s and is an action goliath of American film. Stallone is not a model hero but in this way, we can see his life as a lesson and avoid those faults ourselves. Life can be rough but you’ve got DoYouRemember in your corner. So if you enjoyed the video, please give it a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a memory. Is Rocky the greatest sports film of all time? Or does Hoosiers or remember The Titans hold the trophy? Get in the comments and give me your two cents but from all of us here at DoYouRemember, we want to thank you for watching.
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