One of the most popular action stars in film history, Sylvester Stallone is best known for portraying Rocky Balboa and Vietnam War veteran, John Rambo. Born on July 6, 1946, Stallone rose to fame as a writer and the lead of the Academy Award-winning films. From there on, he became one of the biggest action stars in the world.
Following a mid-career decline, he rediscovered himself and was able to recapture some of his former glory. Let’s take a look back at what made Stallone famous, and how exactly his career fell apart and was rejuvenated.
His Trademark Droopy Image Was The Result Of A Forceps Accident
Jacqueline Stallone suffered complications during labor. That forced her obstetricians to use two pairs of forceps during her son’s birth. But, the misuse of the forceps accidentally severed a nerve, causing paralysis in parts of Stallone’s face. It also paralyzed parts of his lip, tongue, and chin.
Overall, the lower left side of his face was left paralyzed, leaving him with slurred speech. While that would be seen as a hindrance early on in his life, it would come to define the actor later on.
Stallone Had A Difficult Childhood
Both he and younger brother, Frank, were affected by their parent’s hostile relationship. Their dad moved the family to Washington, D.C. in the fifties, then opened a beauty parlor in the process. Meanwhile, his mother opened a female gymnasium called Barbella’s. Eventually, their parents finalized their divorce in 1957.
Following his parents split, Stallone had a challenging time coping with it. He struggled emotionally, and academically, eventually being expelled from school.
After High School, Stallone Attended Three Different Colleges
Stallone would go on to live with his mother and her second husband in Philadelphia. The future actor attended a school for troubled youth. After graduation, Stallone attended three different schools. First, he found himself studying drama at the American College in Switzerland. From there on, he attended the University of Miami, with a focus on the dramatic arts.
He left the school before completing his degree, then he moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.
Stallone Had A Tough Start To His Career
In 1970, he found himself sleeping in the New York Authority bus station. To make ends meet, he cleaned up the lions’ cages at the Central Park Zoo. But his tough start opened a new door for the aspiring actor.
Out of desperation, Stallone acted in the soft-core pornography The Party at Kitty and Stud’s. Doing the movie came back to haunt him later when it was renamed The Italian Stallion, but only to cash in on Stallone’s fame.
An Uncredited Part In A Woody Allen Movie Was The Start Of It All
Stallone’s first few film roles were minor, and brief uncredited appearances. He was a party guest in Pigeons, but he was in Woody Allen’s Bananas playing a subway thug. In the thriller, Klute, he was an extra dancing in a night club. By 1974, he already achieved his second starring role in The Lords of Flatbush.
One year later, he played supporting roles in Farewell, My Lovely, Capone, and Death Race 2000.
Stallone Has Been Married Three Times, The First Time In 1974
Over the course of his life, the actor has been married three times. At 28 years old, he married Sasha Czack on December 28, 1974. The couple welcomed two sons, Sage and Seargeoh. The marriage between Stallone and Czack lasted for 11 years. The couple got a divorce on Valentine’s Day, 1985.
He married model and actress Brigitte Nielsen in December of that same year. Their marriage only last two years, but the divorce was highly publicized.
He Saw A Muhammad Ali Fight On TV And Got The Idea For A Film
In addition to acting, the New Yorker had an interest in writing. One night, Stallone saw the Muhammad Ali-Chuck Wepner fight. Eventually, he came up with a screenplay about a rough-and-tumble thug who struggles for a chance to become a professional boxer. Stallone went as far as refusing to sell the script unless he was allowed to star in it.
Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff became interested, and they were willing to let him play the lead.
Rocky Cleaned Up At The Oscars
Rocky hit the big screen in 1976 and it became a critical and commercial success. Stallone’s movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Ultimately, the film went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Film Editing.
Following the success of Rocky, Stallone made his directorial debut with the 1978 film Paradise Alley, which was another sports film that Stallone both acted and directed in.
To Followup On His Breakout Role, Stallone Starred In F.I.S.T.
After his directorial debut, Stallone went on to play a lab organizer. His work in Norman Jewison’s F.I.S.T. resulted in favorable reviews for his role. However, despite his success playing a warehouse worker, the movie didn’t attract that big of an audience.
The film grossed over $40 million on an $8 million budget, but it was nowhere near the success of Stallone’s previous work. But, that didn’t stop the actor from doing more.
He Ended The 70’s With A Sequel To Rocky
In 1979, Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in the sequel to his Oscar-winning film. Rocky II became a major success, grossing over $200 million at the box office. The actor directed the sequel himself after John G. Avildsen declined to return since he was with pre-production for Saturday Night Fever.
United Artists executives were hesitant to give the star the directing reins, largely because his previously directed film, Paradise Alley, was not a success.
Rocky III and Rambo Were Major Hits
Thanks to the success of the Rocky franchise, Stallone launched another major film franchise. This time, the New Yorker starred as Vietnam veteran John Rambo, a former Green Beret in First Blood. The first installment of the Rambo franchise quickly became a critical and box office success.
Three Rambo sequels followed suit while continuing his success with Rocky IV. To prepare for the role, he would embrace a vigorous training regimen.
He Then Directed Staying Alive
The slight-newcomer to directing found his next project with John Travolta. The follow-up to Saturday Night Fever was a complete disaster. Roger Ebert called the dance productions “laughably gauche”, especially with the film’s final number.
Ebert would go on to mock it for including “ice, fire, smoke, flashing lights, and laser beams.” He added that the film lacked the sense of reality from the previous film. Ebert even dubbed it to be the “worst sequel” ever.
For A Brief Time, He Was A Boxing Promoter
In the early eighties, Stallone became more than just an actor and a director. Thanks to his newfound fame from Rocky, he started his own promotional company, Tiger Eye Productions.
His promotional debut saw Sean O’Grady going up against Pete Razany in 1982. Eventually, the company did sign another boxer. They signed Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, and the boxer would turn pro after being an alternate on the 1976 US Olympic team.
He Has Something In Common With Charlie Chaplin And Orson Welles
Stallone has something in common with two great actors. They all starred in their own movies, but the trio of Stallone, Chaplin, and Orson are like nothing else before. Thanks to Rocky, Stallone became the third man in history to receive Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor nominations for the same movie.
Chaplin earned the honors for his movie The Great Dictator, and Welles earned that same one for his film Citizen Kane.
He Attempted To Branch Out As An Actor
Stallone was looking to solidify his career. That’s when he decided to star in the comedy Rhinestone with beloved musician, Dolly Parton. This time, the actor had a different kind of role, playing a wannabe country music singer.
For the film’s soundtrack, he performed a song and he even turned down a role in Romancing in the Stone to make this movie instead. Unfortunately, he would regret the decision after Rhinestone was a flop.
By The ’90s, Stallone’s Star Power Started To Fade
Life after Rambo and Rocky wasn’t fun for the actor-director. In the early nineties, he went on to make a series of forgettable films. Judge Dredd and Daylight continued the actors run of movies that were total flops. So, he turned to starring in two comedies.
But, the critical and commercial disasters of Oscar, and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot didn’t help whatsoever. Fortunately, he had another interesting project to keep him busy in the meantime.
But, He Focused On Another One Of His Talents
He gave us Rocky and Rambo, but Stallone is not your average Hollywood actor. Stallone kept trying to showcase his talent in more ways than just on the big screen, and even became a renowned painter. Now, the actor is revealing his expressionist side thanks to his artwork.
He’s produced at least 300-400 works, starting with a portrait of a primitive man in a jungle, which was painted when he was eight years old.
He Went Into Business With Bruce Willis And Arnold Schwarzenegger
In 1991, Stallone went into business with the stars of Die Hard and The Terminator. All three men were action stars, and all three became notable investors. It might not have had the same success as the Hard Rock Cafe, but the trio formed an alliance for the Planet Hollywood franchise.
Interestingly enough, the actors were recruited and paid for their appearances and endorsements through the Employee Stock Ownership plan.
The Mid-90s Was A Comeback For Stallone
After a steady decline after a few box office flops, Stallone was able to finally pick himself up. This time, he experienced a career comeback with the success of Cliffhanger. Following the action-thriller movie, Stallone appeared in the 1993 film Demolition Man.
Both movies would gross over a combined $100 million at the box office. The success of both films helped Stallone re-establish himself as the actor, director, and producer fans know him for.
He Got Married, Again
As mentioned before, Stallone was married three times. In May 1997, the actor tied the knot once again. This time, he got married to Jennifer Flavin after the two had been dating in an on again, off again relationship for nine years. The model-turned-entrepreneur is the co-owner of Serious Skin Care, a company which sells beauty treatments and cosmetics through the Home Shopping Network.
Since their marriage, the couple has welcomed three daughters: Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet.
The Early 2000’s Weren’t Much For Sly
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to offer for Sly at the turn of the new millennium. The only notable role for the actor was in a kids movie. Sly had a role in Spy Kids: 3-D: Game Over, playing the role of Toymaker.
Following that, he made a brief appearance into reality TV. He appeared in The Contender with boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. But, he only co-hosted the NBC show for a season.
His Next Project Proved To Be Just As Successful
Remember that business venture with Willis and Arnold? Well, that partnership turned into something more. In 2010, Stallone starred alongside both actors in The Expendables. The film featured an ensemble cast of Jason Statham, MMA fighter Randy Couture, the legendary Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren.
In addition to appearing in the movie, Stallone served as the director and producer. Despite the action scenes, the film lacked an intriguing story, but fans still flocked to see it.
Refocusing On His Franchise Paid Off
The 2006 reboot, Rocky Balboa, was a box office smash. The critically acclaimed film earned over $155 million in worldwide box offices. Two years later, Stallone revived another one of his iconic characters. This time, John Rambo returned to the big screen for Rambo.
In fact, that movie performed just as well as his refocus on his first franchise. Rambo would rack in over $113 million at the box office.
His Son Was Found Dead In July 2012
On July 13, 2012, Stallone’s eldest son, Sage Moonblood Stallone, was found dead in his Los Angeles home. The 36-year-old actor, director, and producer co-starred with his father in Rocky V and Daylight. A month later, the actor appeared on Good Morning America to talk about his sons death.
He said, “Time, hopefully, will heal, and you try to get through it, but it’s just something. It’s a reality of life.”
He Sued His Former Business Manager
On Valentine’s Day in 2002, Stallone sued Kenneth Starr, his former business manager. The reason why is because Starr often gave his client some bad business advice. Eventually, he would claim $17 million in damages altogether.
Part of the advice from his business manager was for him to hold onto his shares in Planet Hollywood. But now, the restaurant has pretty much gone bankrupt, considering it used to be a financial boon.
In 2015, He Produced The Spin-Off For Rocky
Stallone reprised his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed. The film’s focus was towards Adonis Creed, the song of the deceased friend-rival Apollo Creed. Michael B. Jordan is the main character and Ryan Coogler received critical acclaim for his directorial work. Stallone’s portrayal of his iconic character gained widespread acclaim.
He would be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the film earned over $173 million at the box office.
Stallone’s Daughters Made Golden Globe History In 2017
The Rocky star’s daughters, Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet, were given the Miss Golden Globe at the 74th annual ceremony. Each lovely woman has had success as they pursue their dreams.
One is an art history major at USC, another one is interested in fashion and a modeling career, and the third excels in a variety of sports and activities. Of course, their dad is proud and even told Mirror Magazine “It’s great to be first at something.”
In March 2018, He Formed Balboa Productions
It took a while, but Stallone formed a film studio with Braden Aftergood. The studio then signed a multi-year collaboration deal with Starlight Culture Entertainment. One of the first projects that was announced was a film depicting the story of Jack “Galveston Giant” Johnson, the first African-American boxing heavyweight champion.
The project was announced in part of Stallone’s development to help Johnson get a posthumous pardon from the US president.
Stallone Will Appear In A Dark Interpretation Of The Superhero Genre
One of the first movies to come out ofBalboa Productionsis Samaritan. Written by Bragi Schut, it’s a dark take on the superhero genre, and Stallone is slated to star as the lead role. The aim is to start production in early 2019, with a release date being in 2020.
Balboa Productions has also acquired the rights to a memoir by an FBI veteran called Ghost: My Thirty Years as an FBI Undercover Agent.
He Will Also Star In A Film Adaption Of Hunter
Also in the works is Stallone’s long-gestating adaption to Hunter. It’s based on the novel by James Byron Huggins. The actor bought the film rights back in 2009. It was even reported that Stallone wanted to incorporate the idea into another storyline for Rambo.
The book centers around a guy who’s hyper-tracking skills are employed to hunt down a raging beast that some kind of half-human, which is really all I need to hear.