One of the biggest box office draws in the world from the 1970s through the early 1990s, actor-writer-director-producer Sylvester Stallone combined sheer physical brawn with a touch of vulnerability in two major movie franchises - the Academy Award-winning "Rocky" (1976) and its five sequels, as well as the jingoistic, ultra-violent "Rambo" (1981) quartet.
Stallone was born in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, the elder son of Frank Stallone, Sr. (1919–2011), a hairdresser and beautician, and Jacqueline "Jackie" Stallone (née Labofish), an astrologer, former dancer, and promoter of women's wrestling. Stallone's father was born in Gioia del Colle, Apulia, Italy, and immigrated to the United States in the 1930s. Stallone's mother is of half French (from Brittany) and half Russian Jewish (from Soviet Union, Odessa) descent. Through the Ukrainian Jewish heritage of his mother, Stallone is a relative of Odessa oligarch, Valery Kravchenko. His younger brother is actor and musician Frank Stallone.
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. 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. Stallone was baptized Catholic. Around the age of 4, Stallone was flat-footed and put in a tap dancing school by his mother.
His father moved the family to Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s, where he opened a beauty school. His mother opened a women's gymnasium called Barbella's in 1954. Stallone's parents divorced when Sylvester was nine, and he eventually lived with his mother. When Stallone was 16, he scored poorly in school and his mother got him a summer job at her beauty salon. He attended Notre Dame Academy and Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, and Charlotte Hall Military Academy, prior to attending Miami Dade College and the University of Miami.
Stallone had his first starring role in the soft core pornography feature film The Party at Kitty and Stud's (1970). He was paid US$200 for two days' work. 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 Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City 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". The film was released several years later as Italian Stallion, in order to cash in on Stallone's newfound 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 to November 15, 1971 and was later made into the 1974 film Score by Radley Metzger.
While Stallone was in Switzerland, he got a bit part as a restaurant patron, in a scene with Robert Redford and Camilla Sparv, in the sports drama, Downhill Racer (1969). In 1970, Stallone appeared in the film No Place to Hide, which was re-cut and retitled Rebel, the second version featuring Stallone as its star. After the style of Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily?, this film, in 1990, was re-edited from outtakes from the original movie and newly shot matching footage, then redubbed into an award-winning parody of itself titled A Man Called... Rainbo.
Stallone's other first few film roles were minor, and included brief uncredited appearances in The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker (1970) as a party guest, 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 film The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975) as a youth. In the Lemmon film, Jack Lemmon's character chases, tackles and mugs Stallone, thinking that Stallone's character is a pickpocket. According to actor Elliott Gould, Stallone confessed to being an extra in MASH (1970), and may be seen early on in the movie, shortly after the character "Hawkeye" (played by Donald Sutherland) arrives at the camp, and has lunch. He had his second starring role in The Lords of Flatbush, in 1974.
Stallone gained worldwide fame with his starring role in the smash hit Rocky (1976). On March 24, 1975, Stallone saw the Muhammad Ali–Chuck Wepner fight. That night Stallone went home, and after three days and 20 straight hours, he had written the script, but Stallone subsequently denied that Wepner provided any inspiration for it. Other possible inspirations for the film may have included Rocky Graziano's autobiography Somebody Up There Likes Me, and the movie of the same name. Wepner filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount. Stallone attempted to sell the script to multiple studios, with the intention of playing the lead role himself. Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff became interested and offered Stallone US$350,000 for the rights, but had their own casting ideas for the lead role, including Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds. Stallone refused to sell unless he played the lead character and eventually, after a substantial budget cut to compromise, it was agreed he could be the star.
Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nominations for Stallone. The film went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing.
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 1979 he 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, grossing US$200 million.
Stallone launched another major franchise success, starring as Vietnam 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. Three Rambo sequels, Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988) and Rambo (2008), followed. 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 eleven 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 reduced his body fat percentage to his all-time low of 2.8% for Rocky III. Stallone met former Mr. Olympia Franco Columbu to develop the appearance for Rocky IV 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.
During this time period, Stallone cultivated a strong overseas following. He also attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, roles in different genres. In 1984 he co-wrote and starred alongside Dolly Parton in the comedy film Rhinestone where he played a wannabe country music singer. For the Rhinestone soundtrack, he performed a song. In 1987, he starred in the family drama Over the Top as a struggling trucker who tries to make amends with his estranged son. These films did not do well at the box office and were poorly received by critics. It was around 1985 that Stallone was signed to a remake of the 1939 James Cagney classic Angels With Dirty Faces. The film would form part of his multi-picture deal with Cannon Pictures and was to co-star Christopher Reeve and be directed by Menahem Golan. The re-making of such a beloved classic was met with disapproval by Variety and horror by top critic Roger Ebert. Cannon opted to make Cobra instead. Cobra (1986) and the buddy cop action film Tango & Cash (1989), the latter alongside Kurt Russell, did solid business domestically and blockbuster business overseas, grossing over US$100 million in foreign markets and over US$160 million worldwide.
The 1990s began with Stallone starring in the fifth installment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky V. This film brought back the original film's director John G. Avildsen. It was considered a box office disappointment. He attempted the comedy genre, starring in two comedies during the early 1990s, the critical and commercial disasters Oscar (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992). In 1993, he made a comeback with the hit Cliffhanger, which was a success in the US, grossing US$84 million, but even more successful worldwide, grossing US$171 million. Later that year, he starred with Wesley Snipes in the futuristic action film Demolition Man, which grossed over US$158 million worldwide.
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 only released in a limited fashion but was praised by critics. He was also attached to star and direct a film tentatively titled Rampart Scandal, which was to be about the murder of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. and the surrounding Los Angeles Police Department corruption scandal.It was later titled Notorious but was shelved.
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.
The Expendables was Stallone's big success of 2010. The movie, which was filmed during summer/winter 2009, was released on August 13, 2010. Stallone wrote, directed and starred in the movie. Joining him in the film were fellow action stars Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren, as well as Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Eric Roberts, and Stone Cold Steve Austin, and cameos by fellow '80s action icons Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie took US$34,825,135 in its opening weekend, going straight in at No. 1 in the US box office. The figure marked the biggest opening weekend in Stallone's career. In summer 2010, Brazilian company O2 Filmes released a statement saying it was still owed more than US$2 million for its work on the film. A sequel, The Expendables 2 was released August 17, 2012, to a positive critical reception of 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, as opposed to the original's 41%. As well as returning cast members from the first film, the ensemble cast also included Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris.
In 2013, Stallone starred in the action film Bullet to the Head, directed by Walter Hill, based upon Alexis Nolent's French graphic novel Du Plomb Dans La Tete. Also in 2013, he starred in the action thriller Escape Plan, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Caviezel, and in the sports comedy Grudge Match alongside Robert De Niro. Stallone expressed interest in making a remake of the Spanish film No Rest for the Wicked and to star in a fifth Rambo film but both projects are now shelved.
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Screen Actors Guild
Stuntmans Association (honorary)
Stallone is a huge fan of Everton Football Club Stallone has been married three times. At age 28, on December 28, 1974, he married Sasha Czack from Pennsylvania. The couple had two sons, Sage Moonblood (May 5, 1976 – July 13, 2012), who died of heart disease at age 36, 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 on December 15, 1985, in Beverly Hills, California. Stallone and Nielsen's marriage, which lasted two years, and their subsequent divorce, were highly publicized by the tabloid press. In May 1997, Stallone married Jennifer Flavin, with whom he has three daughters: Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet. His daughters were chosen to be Miss Golden Globe at the 74th Golden Globe Awards.
After Stallone's request that his acting and life experiences be accepted in exchange for his remaining needed college credits to graduate, he was granted a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree by the president of the University of Miami, in 1999.
In 2006, Stallone partnered with a beverage company producing an upscale bottled water brand called Sly Water.In 2007, customs officials in Australia discovered 48 vials of the synthetic human growth hormone Jintropin in his luggage.
His 48-year-old half-sister, Toni Ann Filiti, died of lung cancer on August 26, 2012, six weeks after the death of his son, Sage. She died at their mother Jackie Stallone's Santa Monica home, after choosing to leave UCLA hospital.
In the 2010s, Stallone started sporting tattoos on his shoulders, chest, and upper back to cover the scars he had accumulated over the years in action films. The first tattoo he had was a portrait of Flavin, followed by three roses representing their daughters. He first displayed these tattoos on-screen in The Expendables.
Stallone was the recipient of the Heart of Hollywood Award from the Board of Governors of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2016.