Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone was an icon of American cinema who, over the course of his nearly half-century in the film industry, was singlehandedly responsible for giving life to two of the most beloved characters to have ever graced the silver screen: Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. Born in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, Stallone was left paralyzed in parts of face due to complications during his birth. By all accounts, Stallone also had a difficult childhood. His parents had a volatile relationship and fought all the time. They eventually got divorced. So, after living for a number of years in the Washington, D.C. area, Stallone moved to Philadelphia to live with his mother and her second husband. It was in the City of Brotherly Love that Stallone would attend high school, and first become interested in acting. The teen Stallone may not have known it at the time, but Philadelphia would also go on to become the location for his most memorable film, 1976's "Rocky." After graduating from high school Stallone went on to pursue his studies in dramatic arts, first at the American College in Switzerland, and then later the University of Miami. It was at the University of Miami that he would go on to earn his bachelor's degree. After college he moved to New York City to try and make it as an actor. Stallone took on a number of odd jobs during these salad days to pay the bill, including working in the cleanup crew for the lion's cages at the Central Park Zoo. In 1970, in the fledgling days of his acting career, Stallone would appear in the soft-core porn film "Party at Kitty and Stud's" (1970). He also made uncredited appearances in the Jane Fonda drama "Klute" (1971), as well as the Woody Allen comedy "Bananas" (1971). In 1974 Stallone earned praise for his portrayal of a 50s street tough in the film "The Lords of Flatbush" (1974). It was also around this period that Stallone began writing a screenplay about an underdog Philadelphia boxer who "goes the distance" in the ring with the heavyweight champion. After finishing the script, which he called "Rocky," Stallone shopped it around Hollywood. Several producers took an interest in making the film. Stallone, however, had one condition: he and only he could play the title role. He eventually found two producers, Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, to agree, and when "Rocky" was released in 1976 it quickly became a sensation. The film was nominated for 10 Oscars, including two for Stallone for acting and writing, and would go on to take home the Academy Award for Best Picture. Emboldened by the success of "Rocky," Stallone's career took off. He wrote and directed two "Rocky" sequels in the ensuing years, "Rocky II" (1979) and "Rocky III" (1982), and went on to earn critical praise for his performances in "Paradise Alley" (1978) and "Nighthawks" (1981). Then in 1982 Stallone's career hit an even higher peak when he starred in, and wrote the screenplay for, the action film "First Blood" (1982). That film would introduce a new iconic movie character to popular culture, John Rambo, thus making Stallone one of the biggest box office draws of the 1980s. Stallone would write and appear in two more "Rambo" movies in the 1980s, "Rambo: First Blood Part II" (1985) and "Rambo III" (1988), in addition to two more "Rocky" sequels. Throughout the 1980s Stallone starred in a number of other blockbuster action films, like "Cobra" (1986), "Over the Top" (1987), and "Lock Up" (1989). By the mid-1990s Stallone's career began to hit a low point after he appeared in the flops "Judge Dredd" (1995) and "Daylight" (1997). However, by the early 2000s his career began to regain some steam with his roles in films like "Get Carter" (2000) and "Driven" (2001). In 2006 Stallone resuscitated the Rocky character for "Rocky Balboa" (2006), the sixth film in the Rocky franchise and the first since 1990's badly received "Rocky V" (1990). "Rocky Balboa," which Stallone also directed, drew almost unanimous praise from both fans and critics alike, and was seen as a fitting return to form for one of the big screen's most enduring characters. In 2008 Stallone would also go onto revive John Rambo in the action movie "Rambo" (2008), the fourth film in the "Rambo" series. In 2010 Stallone would launch another action franchise by writing, directing and starring in "The Expendables" (2010). The film featured a who's who of action stars, including Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren, and was a huge hit with audiences. Two "Expendables" sequels would follow, in 2012 and 2014, respectively. In 2015 Stallone relaunched the "Rocky" franchise with "Creed" (2015), which centered on the son of Rocky's nemesis from the first film, Apollo Creed. The title character was played by Michael B. Jordan, and for his role in the film, Stallone earned his second Oscar nomination for acting. In 2019, after nearly 50 years in show business, Stallone brought back John Rambo for an eagerly anticipated fourth sequel "Rambo: Last Blood" (2019). The film was released in the fall of 2019, with the 73-year-old Stallone playing the title character once again.