Personal detailsName: Sylvester Stallone
Born: 6 July 1946 (Age: 66)
Where: New York, New York USA
Height: 5' 10"
Awards: 2 Oscar, 2 BAFTA and 2 Golden Globe Nominations
All about this star
It's hard to feel sympathy for Sylvester Stallone. After all, over the years his movies have made billions, with Stallone himself taking a sweet percentage. As John Rambo he's known the world over, as Rocky Balboa he's even loved. Few actors have enjoyed such long-term success, or such iconic status. Yet Stallone still has real cause for disappointment. He did not start out wanting to be an action hero. Indeed, his acting roots are in absurdist theatre and weighty, more experimental works. Throughout his career he has taken numerous steps to distance himself from that Rocky/Rambo persona, with no joy. The public always wanted him as he was - the damaged, simple, everyman hero - and would not let him go. And Stallone, who must take his share of the blame, lacked the artistic courage to leave those sure-fire hits behind. It takes sacrifice to become a Hollywood star - and a lot more to remain one.
He was born Sylvester Enzio Stallone on the 6th of July, 1946, named after his paternal grandfather. His mother, Jackie, had wanted to name him Tyrone, after action hero Tyrone Power, but her prophetic rhyme was not to be. Besides, the young boy would soon be nicknamed Binky.
Stallone's birth, in the charity ward of a public hospital (close by to the Actors' Studio - again prophetically), was a difficult process. Weighing in at 13 pounds, he did not come easily and was indeed tugged from the womb by an intern with a pair of forceps. This drastic and rather unprofessional procedure would sever a nerve above the baby's jaw, causing his famously drooping eyelid and lip and also a speech impediment that would take years of therapy to overcome.
Jackie was an aspiring dancer, one of the Long Stemmed Roses at the Billy Rose Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. Prone to weight-gain, though, she was not as long-stemmed as others, and so spent much of her working time selling cigarettes to the club patrons. Still she was ambitious and pursued her dancing career with zeal. Stallone's father, meanwhile, Frank, was a Sicilian immigrant who'd attempted to make it as a club singer but, wrecked by a stagefright that saw him performing from behind a curtain, had moved into hairdressing and was attempting to build a business.
With Jackie struggling as a dancer and Frank pumping all his profits back into his business, there was very little money to spare. For the first five years of Sylvester's life, the family would live in a cold-water flat in Hell's Kitchen, on 50th and 10th. During the week, with both parents working, the boy would be sent to live with a foster mother in Queens, an uncommunicative woman who left him to live in his own fantasy world, thus fuelling his nascent imagination.
The family would live here in real comfort, in a big house with impressive grounds. Soon Frank Sr would be buying polo ponies (Frank Sr had learned to play the game when stationed as a guard on the Mexican border during WW2). Yet all was not right with young Sylvester. Painfully aware of his disfigurement and flawed speech, he reacted badly to the inevitable teasing at school - Mr Potato Head being one of his kinder nicknames. Fearing that answering back to taunts would simply lead to more insults about his speech, he clammed up, became surly and difficult, his anger manifesting itself in vandalism and fighting with other children. At home, life was no easier as Frank Sr was extremely critical of his elder son. Nothing Sylvester did was good enough and when the frustrated boy dared to answer back he'd receive the back of Frank's hand. Stallone would later reveal that his father was prone to whistling before striking his son and, when he became a big star, the clearly still traumatised actor actually banned whistling from his sets.
Terribly lonely at school, and feeling disregarded at home where the good-looking, musically-gifted Frank Jr received preferential treatment, Sylvester retreated further into his fantasy world of books and comics. At one point he even made himself a Superman outfit and wore it under his clothes. Unbeknown to the rest of the world, he had a secret identity - courageous, powerful, attractive. Unfortunately, he let his secret slip and was made to strip down to his superhero costume in front of the class. More humiliation. It must have driven him a little crazy as, at age 11, he jumped off the roof using an umbrella as a parachute, just like in the movies he already loved. He was lucky to escape with a broken clavicle.
Try as he might, Stallone could never escape for long into fantasy. The real world kept breaking in to assault him. He was still a straight F student, unable to retain academic information, suffering an ADD that probably resulted from the rickets he suffered during those poor, vitamin-deficient years in Hell's Kitchen. In fact, the real world was horrible, just an endless string of people pushing him, punching him, insulting him, telling him he was ugly and useless, aggressive and thick. Efforts were made to calm him.