Sylvester Gardenzio "Sly" Stallone (/stəˈloʊn/; Italian pronunciation: [(ɡarˈdɛntsjo) stalˈloːne]; born July 6, 1946) is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is well known for his Hollywood action roles, particularly boxer Rocky Balboa, the title character of the Rocky series' seven films from 1976 to 2015; soldier John Rambo from the four Rambo films, which ran from 1982 to 2008; and Barney Ross in the three The Expendables films from 2010 to 2014. He wrote or co-wrote most of the 14 films in all three franchises, and directed many of the films.
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.
1970–1971: The Party at Kitty and Stud's and Score
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 a film by Radley Metzger.
1970–1975: Early film roles
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 at the premiere of the movie F.I.S.T., 1978
Sylvester Stallone in 1983
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.
1978–2005: More Rocky, Rambo, and 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 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. 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). 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. OlympiaFranco 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 and was also negatively received by both critics and audiences. At the time, this was intended to be the last film in the franchise.. 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). With Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot he became the recipient of his 4th Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actor. 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. His string of hits continued with 1994's The Specialist (over US$170 million worldwide gross). In 1995, he played the futuristic character Judge Dredd (from the British comic book 2000 AD) in the eponymous film Judge Dredd. His overseas box office appeal saved the domestic box office disappointment of Judge Dredd, which cost almost US$100 million and barely made its budget back, with a worldwide tally of US$113 million. He also appeared in the thriller Assassins (1995) with Julianne Moore and Antonio Banderas. In 1996, he starred in the disaster filmDaylight, which was not very successful in the US, but grossed US$126 million overseas.
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 is 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, "Stupid cheap studio!"
Following his breakthrough performance in Rocky, critic Roger Ebert had stated that Stallone could become the next Marlon Brando, though he never recaptured the critical acclaim achieved with Rocky. Stallone did go on to receive acclaim for his role in the crime drama Cop Land (1997), in which he starred alongside Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. 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 was a big hit domestically.
In 2000, Stallone starred in the thriller Get Carter – a remake of the 1971 British Michael Caine film of the same name—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 2003, he played a villainous role in the third installment of the Spy Kids trilogy Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over which was a huge box office success (almost US$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 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.
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 US$70.3 million (and US$155.7 million worldwide). The budget of the movie was only US$24 million. His performance in Rocky Balboa has been praised and garnered mostly positive reviews.
Stallone's fourth installment of his other successful movie franchise is titled simply Rambo. The film opened in 2,751 theaters on January 25, 2008, grossing US$6,490,000 on its opening day and US$18,200,000 over its opening weekend. Its box office was US$113,244,290 worldwide with a budget of US$50 million.
Asked in February 2008 which of the icons (Rocky or Rambo) he would rather be remembered for, Stallone said "it's a tough one, but Rocky is my first baby, so Rocky."
2010–present: The Expendables franchise and Creed, a return to the Rocky Balboa character
Stallone's debut 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. In addition, Stallone has continued to express his passion in directing a film on Edgar Allan Poe's life, a script he has been preparing for years.
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, Sistene, and Scarlet.
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 decade of 2010, 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.
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 Steve Austin in The Expendables, he broke his neck, which required the insertion of a metal plate. During the filming of Escape to Victory, Stallone broke a finger trying to save a penalty kick from Pelé.
Stallone was raised a strict Catholic but stopped going to church as his acting career progressed. Later, he rediscovered his childhood faith, when his daughter was born ill in 1996, and he again became an active Catholic.
In the late 2006, the actor was interviewed by Pat Robertson from the CBN's 700 Club. Stallone stated that before, in Hollywood, temptation abounded and he had "lost his way", but later put things "in God's hands".
In 2010, he was interviewed by GQ magazine, to which he said that he considered himself a spiritual man, but was not part of any organized Church institution.
^ abHainey, Michael (September 2010). "Yo.". GQ. Retrieved December 30, 2010. Are you a religious man? I'm pretty spiritual; I believe a lot in the spirit of man. I'm certainly not an atheist.... I was baptized Catholic, but I don't belong to a structured church. I have no opposition to it. I think there's great nuggets of knowledge in there, some wonderful rules to live by. Then the flip side is the amount of agony that's caused, which is, excuse me?line feed character in |quote= at position 25 (help)
^"Total Film". United Kingdom. August 2010: 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 Studs, 1970] that was paying US$100 a day for a US$100 a day I would wreak havoc. Instead of doing something desperate, I worked for two days for US$200 and got myself out of the bus station."