Silver Screen Artists

Sylvester Stallone and his Rise to Fame via the ROCKY Franchise!

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We the people, as a society, have been turning to the silver screen for entertainment for well over a century now. This medium has a way of removing us from our everyday lives and gives the chance to live vicariously through our favorite characters. Even if it is for a short period of time…even if it only lasts for roughly 2 hours. These stars of the silver screen have been true heroes in that they help us cope with our day to day by forcing imagination into our lives! Since the beginning of the “big screen” countless actors and actresses have dazzled us with their portrayals of the make believe and some of these players have stuck out in our minds more than others. They have become timeless creatures of our imagination and every time we pop that movie in they never fail to whisk us away to a land that is so familiar and comfortable to us. Everybody constructs their own list of Hollywood elite, the “go-tos”, and I guarantee Sylvester Stallone tops off many of these mental lists of greats! Stallone has always been the “horse of a different color” and he comes from a genuine background fueled by passion, determination and true grit. Whether you love him or hate him you have to appreciate the path he walked and the obstacles that he overcame!

 

 

He was born “Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone” and born on born July 6, 1946. Sly is an actor, screenwriter, producer, and director and overall he is just a cool guy! Obviously, he is well known for his Hollywood action roles, including the underdog boxer Rocky Balboa, who was the title character of the Rocky series' seven films from 1976 to 2015. Another very big Sylvester installment was that of soldier John Rambo from the four Rambo films, released between 1982 and 2008.  His more current success story would be  Barney Ross in the three The Expendables films from 2010-2014. He wrote or co-wrote almost all of the 14 films in all three of these hugely successful franchises, and directed many of the films within!

The whole ROCKY series would probably be the pinnacle topic in the portfolio of Stallone! ROCKY was inducted into the National Film Registry (which is a big deal!)  and many of the films’ awesome props have been placed in the Smithsonian Museum. We all remember the moment when Rocky ascended the great 72 steps right? Well, Stallone's use of the front entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Rocky series led to that entire area achieving iconic fame and is now known as “the Rocky Steps”...not bad right? The city of Philly also has a statue of Rocky placed permanently near the museum. It was announced on December 7, 2010 that Stallone was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the non-participant category which a very humbled Stallone graciously accepted.  Oh, and did we forget to mention that in 1977, Stallone was nominated for two Academy Awards for Rocky? He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. He became the third man in history to receive these two nominations for the same film, after Charles Chaplin and Orson Welles. Not bad being placed next to names like that when this movie was almost scrapped due to financial strains at the time! He received critical raves, as well as his first Golden Globe Award and third Academy Award nomination, for reprising the role of Rocky Balboa in Ryan Coogler's 2015 film Creed. In short, the film series is a top notch example of pure pop culture power and will always stand as a symbol of true Americana!

 

There were several factors in the mid 1970s that almost led to ROCKY being scrapped and thrown to the floor to be forgotten. In the end it was really Stallone’s stubborn excellence that shined through and made this project come to fruition! There has always been a lot of speculation as to the motivation for the movie in the first place. In March of 1975, Stallone saw the Muhammad Ali–Chuck Wepner fight. It has been said that Stallone went home that night, and after three days and twenty straight hours, he had written the script, but Stallone subsequently denied that Wepner provided any inspiration for it. Inspiration can be a gray box. There are many facets in life that inspire us to do the things we do, everyday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we stole the idea from this moment of inspiration.  Other possible inspirational situations for the film may have included Rocky Graziano's amazing autobiography “Somebody Up There Likes Me”. I imagine it to be a combination of things for that is usually how life works in general. We are all products of our own environments.  The funny thing is,  Wepner actually filed a lawsuit which was eventually settled with Stallone for an undisclosed amount…sure, go after the guy who is finally making a little coin! But back to the beginning…Sly tried selling the script to multiple studios, with the strict rule that he would star in the leading role. He wrote this character, he lived this character and he needed to be this character. Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff became interested and offered Stallone $350,000 for the rights, but had their own ideas as who to cast 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 play the part of ROCKY BALBOA! Can you just imagine some other Hollywood head yelling “AAAAAAADRIAN!!!”

 

As we know Sylvester Stallone had quite the extensive filmography which continues to grow as we speak. Sure he has a few roles before Rocky as well, including the, ummmm, questionable role as STUD in The Party at Kitty and Stud's …Go ahead, look it up if you aren’t aware of it. Overall we salute Sly and forever-amazing-stubborn ways that brought the ROCKY franchise to light. If he backed down in the beginning we wouldn’t have the amazing film series that we know and love. He has already lived quite the full life…and every day he continues to amaze us all! 

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