But how much do you know about the man himself? He’s been in the public eye for a while, but there’s still plenty that many don’t know about old Sly. Read on and learn more about this famous actor, director, and writer.
Problems on the First Day
Let no one tell you that Sylvester Stallone has ever had it easy. As he was being delivered in the hospital on July sixth, 1946 in a charity hospital in Hell’s Kitchen of New York City, improper use of forceps ended up leaving him with a damaged facial nerve, which gave him his noteworthy droopy left eyelid and slurred speech. After that, he had to spend much of his infancy in boarding care in order to recover, but he rejoined his family when he was five, moving with them to Maryland.
Many people seem to think that the droop was caused by Bell’s Palsy, also known as acute peripheral facial palsy, but the damage to the nerve around his mouth is the culprit. The partial paralysis would be a driving force in Stallone’s life.
What About His Parents?
Sylvester Stallone was born to Francesco “Frank” Stallone Sr. and Jacqueline “Jackie” Stallone, who lived in Manhattan. Frank was a hairdresser and beautician, while Jackie was, at times, an astrologer, a dancer, and a promoter of women’s wrestling. His father had been born in Italy – specifically Gioia del Colle, Apulia – and then moved to the States in the thirties. Mrs. Stallone was of French and Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
His father was also at one point an actor – his single role was that of a timekeeper in the movie that would elevate his son to stardom, “Rocky.” He also wrote a single novel, “Stewart Lane,” published in 2010, about a couple that moves to the country to renovate an old house. His mother once lived with the famous bodybuilder Charles Atlas.
A Boxer by Any Other Name
You might be tempted to call this famous actor Rocky or Rambo, but his full name is Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone. The many biographies of the actor tell us that his original birth name was Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone, but it was originally something else entirely. His mother originally wanted to name him Tyrone, since she admired the actor Tyrone Power. Stallone’s father eventually overruled her, changing the name to Sylvester.
Sly went by the nickname “Binky” when he was a child, though his schoolmates quickly changed this to “Stinky,” prompting him to start going by Mike or Michael. He also usually shortened his middle name Gardenzio, an alteration of the Italian name Gaudenzio, to simply Enzio.
The Younger Brother
Born three years after Sly, Francesco Stallone Jr. Junior eventually grew up to become a working musician, and his biggest hit was thanks to his more famous older brother. The song “Far From Over” was part of the soundtrack to Sylvester’s film “Staying Alive.” The song ended up reaching number ten on the US “Billboard” Hot 100 chart, also earning Frank Jr. a Golden Globe nomination. The soundtrack for the film, consisting of Frank Jr. and a number of other artists, also received a Grammy nomination.
Junior has also had some time as an actor, including a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom “Movie Stars.” He appeared alongside other siblings of stars, including Don Swayze and Joey Travolta. Frank is also, for some reason, the non-sequitur punchline to many jokes from comedian Norm Macdonald while he was on “Saturday Night Live.”
A Family That Moves Together…
The Stallone family spent a lot of time moving around when Sylvester was a child. They began in New York, but Frank Stallone Sr. moved the family to Washington D.C. and then to Silver Springs, Maryland in order to open a beauty school in the early 1950s. The elder Stallone had opened several barber shops in New York, and in Maryland he did even more, not content with just a single beauty school.
He ended up starting several of the schools as well as several more hair salons in the area. By all accounts, these businesses were successful, as Frank spent most of his life in the area.
...Doesn’t Stay Together
Frank might have been successful in business, but it turns out his love life wasn’t the best it could be. He and Jackie Stallone divorced in 1957, when Sylvester was eleven, and would marry three more times before his death in 2011. His second marriage was to Rose Marie Stallone, which similarly ended in divorce. His third marriage, however...also ended in divorce, this time to a woman named Sandra Stallone.
His fourth and final marriage, to a woman named Kathleen Rhodes, lasted from 1997 until his death. Frank would eventually have a total of five children – Sylvester and Frank with Jackie, Bryan and Carla Francesca with Rose Marie, and Dante Alexander with Kathleen.
Living With Both Parents
After his parents split up, Sylvester initially lived with his father for several years until he (Sylvester, not his father) was fifteen. At that point, he went to live with his mother, who had moved to Philadelphia. Jackie was the first woman to have a daily television show on exercise and weight lifting in the Washington D.C. area and also opened a women’s gym named Barbella’s.
Jackie also went on to have a number of other marriages. The second was to a man named Anthony Filiti, whom she married in 1959 and would later divorce. The third marriage was to Stephen Levine, and it began in 1998, lasting until her death in September 2020. Aside from Sylvester and Frank, Jackie had another child, the late Toni Filiti.
Problems at School
We probably don’t have to tell you that a poor kid with facial paralysis had a hard time at school. Sylvester jumped around between a number of schools due to a history of expulsion (due to getting into fights, behavior problems, and poor grades), and he eventually joined a private school for troubled teenagers. The other children would make fun of his partially-paralyzed face as well as his speech impediment. During this time, however, Stallone started to let his aggression out not by getting into fights, but by hitting the gym and lifting weights.
No doubt his mother encouraged this practice. Most likely doing so also stopped a bunch of people from making fun of him. He also found joy in acting – a surprise for someone who seemed so physical.
Heading Off to College
Despite the problems Sylvester had while getting through secondary school, he was able to make it to college. He spent a couple of years at Miami Dade College, a public college in Miami, Florida, and then he spent a pair of years at the American College of Switzerland from September 1965 to June 1967. While there, he decided to dedicate himself to the craft of acting and returned to the States (and specifically the University of Miami) in order to study acting from 1967 to 1969.
He ended up leaving before receiving his degree, but was able to later convince the University that his life experiences, plus his time as a movie star, was enough to earn him the remaining college credits needed to graduate – this was all the way in 1998.
A Beginning to His Career
While he was acting in college, Stallone went by the stage name Mike Stallone. Not bad, but we can do better. In 1970, he adopted the stage moniker of Sylvester E. Stallone. We’re almost there, people. While he was still attending the University of Miami, he was able to get a role in the drama film “That Nice Boy” also known as “The Square Root,” which was filmed in 1968.
If you’re a Stallone purist, good luck finding a way to see this film – the storyline from the Internet Movie Database simply says: “Photographer Peter Christiansen, University of Miami student, does a picture story at an LSD party on the beach.” Very little is known about it other than the primary actors, Stallone and a woman named Tina Robertson.
Not a Normal First Starring Role
In 1970, Stallone had his first real starring role, and it was in the movie “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s.” It’s a softcore adult movie for which Stallone acted for two days and was paid two hundred dollars – worth a little over sixteen hundred dollars these days. For two days of work that’s not bad, but Stallone is a little embarrassed when he remembers the role.
As you might be able to imagine, Stallone plays “Stud,” a brutal oaf that nevertheless continually impresses his girlfriend with his performances. The two throw a party, and...you can probably figure out where this is heading. High art this was not. After Stallone became a huge star following “Rocky,” the film was edited and re-released as “Italian Stallion” to capitalize on his fame.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
Stallone was originally interested in taking a role in a softcore film, but he needed the money. He really, really needed the money. He’d been evicted from his apartment and had been homeless for several days, sleeping at the Port Authority Bus Terminal for three weeks before he saw a casting notice for the film. He’s quoted as saying that it was either to do an embarrassing film and make relatively easy money or rob somebody.
He went on to say that he was at the end – the very end – of his rope. Thanks to this influx of cash, however, Stallone was able to get back on his feet, at least for a little while. We still have six years before his big moment, and very little of that time was easy for him.
Another Embarrassing Credit to His Name
Yet another early role that might make Stallone blush is the off-broadway stage play “Score” which ran for twenty-three performances at the Martinique Theatre from October to November in 1971. Yet again, this bit of art was erotic, and the story was later made into the 1974 film “Score” by Radley Metzger.
In the play, a couple has a bet that the wife has to seduce a married woman before midnight. It was part of the thankfully brief time of adult films made to vogue and chic. What’s worse, Stallone didn’t even play one of the main characters – he has a brief role as a telephone repairman. Maybe one day Sylvester will be able to be in a project that isn’t embarrassing.
Biding His Time
During this time, Stallone lived in New York City with his girlfriend, aspiring actress Sasha Czack. Czack supported the both of them by working as a waitress while she was working on her acting. At the same time, Stallone took a number of odd jobs, including working as a cleaner at a zoo and a theater usher. The second one didn’t last too long, since he was fired for scalping tickets. He was trying to get roles, but nothing was lining up (despite his sterling acting resume).
However, at the same time, he was spending his free time at the library, reading to try and improve his storytelling and writing abilities. While there, he became particularly interested in the works of Edgar Allen Poe, even though that famous writer didn’t have much influence on Stallone’s eventual original works.
Of course, those few starring or minor characters aren’t the only acting credits that Stallone had. However, pretty much everything else is very small, uncredited roles. These include appearing as a soldier sitting at a table in the film “MASH,” a party guest in the film “Pigeons,” a subway thug in the Woody Allen film “Bananas,” and as an extra in the psychological thriller “Klute.” He also had a slightly bigger role in the 1975 film “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”
The lead, played by Jack Lemmon, chases and mugs Stallone’s character, believing him to be a pickpocket. That moment came after a really important role that would help keep Stallone afloat until he stepped into the ring. It took a little more time for Stallone to figure things out, and that time wasn’t easy.
About to Throw in the Towel
By the year of 1972, Stallone was considering giving up the acting dream for good. He would later describe this period as another low point. He was very nearly an extra in “The Godfather,” but could even get such a paltry role. He did manage to get a job as an extra in another hit, “What’s Up, Doc?” which, while not as fondly remembered as “The Godfather,” was still seen by millions of people, and even starred Barbra Streisand as the female lead.
It was even named number sixty-one on the 100 Greatest American Comedies list put out by the American Film Institute. And, yes, Stallone is technically in the film, but he only has a few shots where he appears, and he’s barely visible in either of them.
Proper Starring Roles
Thankfully, Stallone was able to pull himself out of his acting funk with the help of a few proper starring roles. The first was that of Stanley, the main character in the film “The Lords of Flatbush,” which took more than two years to film thanks to budget issues, finally finishing in 1974. However, before that movie even finished filming, a second movie came along featuring Stallone as the top spot: the independent film “No Place to Hide.”
In it, Stallone plays a member of an urban terrorist movement who falls in love with a jewelry seller. After Stallone made it big, the movie was recut and edited to have him as the main character. It was later re-edited again, using outtakes and matching footage into a parody of itself called “A Man Called… Rainbo.”
Forcing a Replacement
Stallone had done a little bit of script work on “The Lords of Flatbush,” which might have given him the clout to pull off this next move. One of the other actors in the film was the then-unknown Richard Gere. Both men played fifties street toughs, but it seems that Gere was being a little too rough of a tough. Gere drew Stallone’s ire for being too physical during rehearsals, but Gere might have also spilled mustard on Stallone during a lunch break.
Such an affront was not something Stallone would stand for, and he said one of the two men had to be gone. Gere was quickly replaced by Perry King. Who knows if the two men can be in the same room together – they certainly haven’t starred in any movies together.
A Little Movie About a Boxer
While getting bit roles and a few small starring moments, Stallone was always working on his own writing, including a script about a washed-out boxer given a big chance on a national stage. Maybe that story sounds a little familiar to you. Even after the little success he’d found, he was almost flat broke. He moved to California, and was having such a hard time that he had to sell his dog – he could hardly feed himself, much less his dog.
One night, however, he went out to see a boxing match between Muhammad Ali (who is known as “The Greatest”) and Chuck Wepner on March 24, 1975. Chuck was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder.” Everybody thought they knew how the fight was going to go, but it ended up shocking everyone.
Just Like in the Movie
Okay, Ali won. He’s still probably the most dominant boxer to have ever stepped into the ring, after all. Wepner was the king of dirty fighting, and managed to knock Ali down – though the match’s tape proves that Wepner stepped on Ali’s foot and shoved him instead of downing him with a proper punch. And, yet, the fight was sufficiently stirring for Stallone to be inspired.
An absolute underdog went up against the greatest boxer in the world and held his own for a good amount of time. Stallone raced home and started banging out a script, finishing it in ninety pages and three days. Only about a third of what he originally wrote made it into the film, but it was still a flurry of artistic ability.
Shopping the Script
A little while later, Stallone was at a casting call for a part, but quickly realized that he wasn’t right for the role he was auditioning for. While at the audition, he happened to mention the cool script he had just written, and the producers were a little interested. They told him to bring it by later. He did so, and they loved it.
They wanted to buy the script from him and offered him a price of three hundred and sixty thousand dollars. How much is that now, you might ask. Well, it’s a little over two million dollars. Stallone had no car, about a hundred dollars in the bank, and had just sold his dog. He turned the offer down.
The producers wanted to buy the script, sure, but they had a stipulation that Stallone wasn’t going to allow, and that was that someone else had to play the lead character. Think about it: sure, Stallone had been in a few things, but he certainly wasn’t a box-office draw. He was relatively unknown, and a name like Burt Reynolds would have been a much better way to get people into theaters.
Man, that would have been a strange movie. How could he turn down that kind of money? Well, he realized he had figured the whole poverty thing out, and he decided he was going to go the distance with this film. It was his, and he was going to star in it come hell, high water, or once again living on the street. And the studio agreed.
Time to Make a Movie
Stallone had acting experience, but acting and making a movie are two very different things. Even more, the studio gave him a mere million dollars to make the film – even back then that wasn’t a lot for a movie. Amazingly, Stallone was able to keep the project under budget by hiring friends and family for roles, using handheld cameras, and keeping most shots to only a single take. So the movie was there.
The next part was to start showing it to audiences and members of the critical press to find out what they thought of it. And while the test audiences that saw the film had positive things to say about it, the critics didn’t seem to like it as much – at least, that’s what it seemed like to Stallone.
A Critical Darling
The movie’s real test was when it was screened at The Director’s Guild, shown to over nine hundred leading industry types. The theater was packed, and Stallone was expecting the same kinds of things as the general test audiences were saying. But that’s not what he got. The laughs didn’t come when they were supposed to. The fight scenes didn’t seem to have any energy to them. Even the legendary training montage didn’t make anybody leap up and run to the gym.
After the movie ended, people left the theater quietly, and Stallone thought he had blown his last big chance. He was saddened and humiliated, and he walked out alone. When he exited, everyone from the theater was standing and waiting for him, and they broke into wild applause.
The movie was a hit. A big hit. A big, big hit. Of course it was a hit! These days, it’s practically a foregone conclusion that a movie about a little boxer who went up against the best in the world and nearly went the distance would be a hit, but it wasn’t a sure thing back then. Stallone was thirty when the movie came out, he was an untested writer, and it was his first movie. And yet nobody could deny the movie’s greatness.
He had a mere million dollars to work with, and it made him a star. In fact, legendary film critic Roger Ebert said that Stallone could become the next Marlon Brando – hard to come up with higher praise than that. “Rocky” didn’t just rake in the cash – it was nominated for ten Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Directing, and Best Film Editing.
Among the Greats
What group of people contains Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and Sylvester Stallone? Well, in 1977, Stallone joined those other two storied names as being only the third person in film history – behind those other two – to be nominated for both the Best Actor Oscar as well as the Best Original Screenplay at the same time and for the same film.
Chaplin got them for “The Great Dictator” in 1941, while Welles got them for “Citizen Kane” just a year later. Stallone ended up not winning either of the awards, but the film still got its fair share of hardware from the event.
The Follow-Up Film
The next film project of Stallone wasn’t the sequel to his smash hit, but instead, a film called “Paradise Alley.” He not only starred in the film, but it was his directorial debut as well (“Rocky” was directed by John G. Avildsen). It’s a family drama, in which Stallone plays one of three brothers who get involved in professional wrestling. Stallone had written the story as a novel and then a screenplay before he even wrote “Rocky.”
Thing is, there were people interested in this screenplay before he wrote “Rocky,” but the first person he showed it to was, in his words, a real maggot who proved odious to anybody else who was interested. It wasn’t until Stallone had hit it big with “Rocky” that he was able to wrestle the rights away from the maggot.
The Sophomore Slump
Calling “Paradise Alley” a sophomore film isn’t technically correct, but to most of the viewing public that’s what it was, and it slumped hard. With a budget of six million dollars, it made only seven million dollars, easily qualifying as a bomb. Almost to a man (and woman) critics panned the film, comparing it unfavorably to “Rocky.” However, not everybody hated the film.
For instance, none other than Gene Siskel gave the film three out of four stars, praising the rich characters and calling it a colorful film, though he had a lot of negative things to say about the ending. Several other critics also gave it positive reviews, but the consensus was in, and “Paradise Alley” was a fully mediocre film.
Moving On to Other Projects
During these next few years, Stallone would star in a number of other films, some big and some small. In the 1978 film “F.I.S.T.” he played a warehouse worker that was loosely based off of union leader James Hoffa, and who similarly becomes involved in labor union leadership. He joined veteran actor Michael Caine and, of all people, soccer star Pelé in the movie “Escape to Victory.”
They played a prisoner of war forced to play in a Nazi propaganda soccer game. He was also in the thriller “Nighthawks,” acting as a New York City cop, opposite Rutger Hauer as a foreign terrorist. They two get into a cat-and-mouse game with plenty of lives on the line. Pretty much all of these films were big successes in one manner or another.
Stallone’s star was on the rise, but he decided to go back to the well that had made him a star in the first place. “Rocky II” came out in 1979 and shows us a Rocky that is struggling to come to grips with his newfound fame – an element no doubt inspired by real life. Stallone directed the movie, since the previous film’s director was unable to join the project.
This time, Rocky has another shot at Apollo Creed, the champ, and this time he’s determined to win. Once again, the film was a rousing success. He was given more money to work with (seven million dollars instead of a single million) and the film raked in two hundred million at the box office. Yo, Adrian, he did it!
Another Cash Cow Franchise
A few years after the release of “Rocky II,” Stallone had settled into Hollywood life a little more. He was getting better projects, and his time living on the street seemed like a lifetime ago. He’d even been able to show off his build as an action star, and the time came for him to start another incredibly successful franchise: Rambo.
Based on a book of the same name, the first movie was “First Blood.” Stallone starred in the movie and helped with the screenplay, but this time he stayed out of the director’s chair. While initial reviews were mixed, it proved to be a box office success, making it one of the highest-grossing of the year. It was also the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in China.
Suffering for His Art
Let no one tell you that acting is the easiest job in the world. Stallone received a number of bad injuries while filming “First Blood.” The easiest one example to find of these is when Stallone had to jump from a cliff to a tree branch. When he lands, he lets out a horrific scream, which wasn’t acting in any way. He cracked something like six ribs during the jump.
In another scene, Rambo has to run into a mine to escape the gunfire of the police. Stallone put his hand right on top of a squib that was set to go off, and he almost lost his thumb when it did. During the prison beating scene, Stallone’s back was also hurt. Because of the beatings, we assume.
Might Not Have Been Him
It’s impossible to imagine anybody but Stallone as the lead character for this film and the rest of the Rambo movies, but he was far from the first choice for the role. The first choice was none other than Dustin Hoffman, who turned down the role because he felt the script was too violent. There were plenty of other choices: Powers Boothe, Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Nick Nolte, Chuck Norris, Ryan O’Neal, John Travolta, and James Woods were all considered.
James Garner was another choice, but Garner was a veteran of the Korean War with a pair of purple hearts and didn’t want to play a vet who fought cops. Al Pacino was also asked to star, and he accepted on the condition Rambo becomes more of a madman. He was turned away.
The Critical Response
All three of the lead actors from “First Blood” (Stallone, Richard Crenna, and Brian Dennehy) received rave reviews for their acting, and the film as a whole was highly lauded as a dark and sensitive look at the horrors of war. While the sequels would go on to be far more standard action movie fare, this film has a lot more to say about trauma, veterans, and how people of the time treated both.
A number of remakes, sequels, video games, and other pieces of media would come later. In addition, the parody movie “Hot Shots Part Deux” takes a lot of elements from the Rambo series and twists them into a comedic manner. There are even Bollywood remakes of the entire franchise coming, with the first movie being filmed.
Revitalizing a Certain Industry
“First Blood” helped a certain industry a whole lot, and we bet you’ll have a hard time guessing which one it is. In a 2011 article for “Blade Magazine,” writer Mike Carter gives credit to David Morell, the writer of the original book, and the Rambo franchise in general for revitalizing the cutlery industry in the eighties, thanks to the presence of knives from the Jimmy Lile and Gil Hibben lines in the films.
Even before that article was penned, the magazine gave Morell an industry achievement in 2003 for doing so much to repopularize the hobby of knives and knife collecting. The knives featured in the films include one of the legendary Bowie knives, and there are plenty of other sharp implements included as well.
Getting into the Ring for a Third Time
The same year “First Blood” came out, 1982, also saw the release of the third installment of the Rocky series, “Rocky III.” Once again, Stallone wrote, directed, and acted in the film, and it was once again a rousing success. In this film, Rocky had become the champ, but he had also let himself get a little soft.
Enter a new, vicious boxer Clubber Lang (played by a young Mr. T) who takes on Rocky to try and grab the title from him. In the first fight, Clubber Lang wins, which drives Rocky to start training with his old adversary, Apollo Creed, in order to get back in shape. Mr. T was hired for the role after winning the award “America’s Best Bouncer,” and the film catapulted him into the limelight.
Not a Critical Darling
While many people enjoyed “Rocky III,” the critical response wasn’t as sparkling as with the previous two films. There was plenty of praise for the action sequences and the soundtrack, but many found the screenplay weaker than the previous entries, even saying that the film itself was a little unnecessary – there was no big change to the characters other than Rocky getting complacent in his success.
Still, the public ate it up – it grossed almost three hundred million dollars worldwide, surpassing both of its predecessors. It was the fourth-highest-grossing film at the domestic box office and the second-highest-grossing film of the year worldwide. Its theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor became a hit single and received an Oscar nom for Best Original Song.
Being a boxer is hard on the body, and even being a movie boxer requires you to be in incredible shape. Stallone began preparing for “Rocky III” as soon as he was finished with “Rocky II,” getting into the best shape of his life – he’s said that he got all the way down to a mere 2.6% body fat percentage. In case you don’t know, this is a staggeringly low number.
For a man of his age, five percent is an incredibly low amount. He would eat nothing but egg whites, toast, and fruit, and he trained almost all day, with jogs, weight training, sparring matches, more weight training, swimming, and sit-ups, six days a week. He got down to a hundred and fifty-five pounds – giving him a BMI of approximately 20.
A Big Flop
Stallone had turned into box office gold, but that didn’t mean everything he did turned out amazing. One really good example is a movie he directed in 1983, “Stayin’ Alive.” It was the sequel to the landmark film “Saturday Night Fever” from 1977. It was the only film that Stallone directed that he didn’t star in, and it isn’t fondly remembered – not by the critics, at least. It was universally panned by critics.
However, the movie-going public flocked to the film in droves, giving it the biggest weekend for a musical film ever at the time. Worldwide, the film collected about a hundred and twenty-seven million dollars. Despite getting such powerfully bad reviews, it was one of the top ten most financially successful films of 1983.
The Dudes in a Feud
Since Sylvester Stallone was now one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, the only thing he had to do left was have a feud with another action star of the same caliber. That man turned out to be the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This rivalry went on for something like twenty years, and both men used tactics such as one-upmanship and subterfuge. Their hatred of each other began in 1977, when Stallone allegedly threw a bowl of flowers at Arnold at the Golden Globe ceremony.
These actors attacked each in the press, tried to outdo each other in their movies, and even sent each other terrible scripts to read, hoping the other would fall prey. Amazingly, THIS WORKED: Stallone starred in “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,” which Arnold had said he wanted to do. It was a terrible movie, and Arnold was lying.
Burying the Hollywood Hatchet
Once the calendar rolled into the late nineties, however, both men were seeing a smaller box-office effect from their movies, and they realized the time had come to make up. Whether they both realized it just wasn’t any fun anymore, or one of them made the first move, they realized the feud had run its course.
In fact, once we got into the twenty-first century, it was reported that these two muscle heads were thinking about a film that was big enough for both of them. Furthermore, Schwarzenegger invited Stallone to his multiple inaugurations as governor of California – Stallone also donated several thousand dollars to the Schwarzenegger election fund. Eventually, the two would appear in the films of the "Expendables" franchise, as well as the movie “Escape Plan.”
After Stallone and Schwarzenegger made peace, they found themselves almost working together in the original version of a rather famous film project. While nowadays the film “Face/Off” is a film starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage at their most hammy, it was originally going to feature two of the biggest stars of the eighties and nineties, swapping faces in what would have been a tremendously strange film.
As time will tell us, the collaboration didn’t work out, and that might have been for the best since having these two muscle heads go up against each other in a battle of wits and faces and biceps could have very well ruined all of Hollywood. On the other hand, that would have stopped them from making any more Pauly Shore movies, so pyrrhic victory.
Not the Normal Kind of Thing
So Stallone was a sports hero and an action star, but there are a whole lot more movie genres out there, like comedy. That was the next thing that Stallone would try to break into, thanks to the film “Rhinestone,” alongside Dolly Parton. Stallone also co-wrote the film, though not with Parton. In the movie, Stallon played a wannabe country music singer who is being trained into the act by Parton’s character.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty, but it seems like this film was destined to bomb. It was panned upon its release and was immediately regarded as a commercial and critical flop. The man who came up with the original story, Phil Alden Robinson, distanced himself from the film and went on tour to badmouth it. Even worse, Stallone turned down “Romancing the Stone” for the film.
Built for Action
It was about this time that the film “Beverly Hills Cop” came calling with a comedic script that they wanted Stallone for. Perhaps learning from his past mistakes, Stallone spent some time rewriting the script, focusing more on the action. Detroit cop Axel Foley would have rampaged through Beverly Hills, on the hunt for his friend’s killers.
Stallone even went so far as to describe the film as his version of the opening scene from “Saving Private Ryan,” with a climax being a deadly game of chicken. However, the film’s producers just didn’t foresee it working out, so they went in another direction. The finished product ended up being one of Eddie Murphy’s biggest hits. Stallone took the work he had done and transferred it to a different film, 1986’s “Cobra.”
Back in Form
Every actor and actress stars in a bad movie every once in a while – what matters is what that person does next. After “Rhinestone,” Stallone got right back on the horse thanks to a pair of films from his two big franchises. The first was “Rocky IV,” in which Rocky has to face down the terrifying Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer so brutal and strong that he killed Apollo Creed during a match.
From the get-go, the film was a little different, since it came with a copyright infringement lawsuit. The writer of the script, Timothy Anderson, sued Stallone, MGM, and a number of other parties. Anderson argued that they had used his script without proper remuneration, but the script was unauthorized, meaning it wasn’t protected under copyright law.
The Cold War in the Ring
“Rocky IV” is remembered for being a small-scale Cold War fought on the silver screen. Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, was a product of the Soviet Republic and something the nation wanted to demoralize America. Well, Rocky isn’t about to let that happen, no sir. The film was somewhat mixed critically upon release, with criticism being leveled at the predictable screenplay, as well as being almost like propaganda – negative portrayals of Soviets abound. On the other hand, critics found Ivan Drago a compelling villain.
Whatever the critics said, the public loved it. It earned over three hundred million dollars worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing movie of the franchise and the third highest-grossing movie of 1985 domestically, and second-highest worldwide. The number one spot on the domestic list was “Back to the Future.” What about the number two spot? It also starred Stallone.
Fighting for Real
Both of the men knew that they were filming a movie, but that doesn’t mean there was no danger in a ring containing Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren. Stallone might have been training, but Lundgren was a real fighter – he’s a fourth Dan black belt in karate and was even European Karate Champion from 1980 to 1981. To make the big fight at the end of the film more real, they agreed to actually hit each other, a decision Stallone probably regrets to this day.
Lundgren hit him in the chest so hard his heart started swelling – had he not received immediate medical attention, the strike might very well have killed him. After a few days of recovery, the two actors decided to go back to fake boxing.
As Rocky punched his way through the Cold War, Rambo was still fighting in Vietnam. “Rambo: First Blood Part II” has Rambo emerging from prison in a deal with the government to investigate possible prisoners of war still in Vietnam. When he finds them, Rambo is instructed to only take pictures, but he goes off-script, rescuing them against the wishes of his commanding officer.
When he does so, he gets left in the jungles of Vietnam with only his wits and training to rescue the POWs and get back home. Just like in “Rocky IV,” this Stallone character goes up against members of the Soviet army, and their defeat is quite a bit more explosive than in the boxing movie. It was a rousing action movie, with more explosions and bodies than you could count.
A Sorry Sequel
We’ve already discussed that the second Rambo film made more than its fair share of money at the box office, but critics weren’t anywhere near as pleased with it as they were with the first film. Instead of a deep and tragic hero, Rambo turned into a muscled berserker like so many others. It was a fun action flick – nobody had the guts to deny that. Many critics found it lacking in tension, figuring Rambo was all but invincible, and that’s exactly what he was.
Even Gene Siskel gave the film three out of four stars, saying the movie was great action, but that’s all it was. Incredibly, the movie was nominated and won numerous Razzies, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Original Song (“Peace in Our Life” by Frank Stallone Jr.).
Not a Fan of the Animated Series
Following the relative success of the second Rambo film, a whole lot of merchandise started appearing on shelves for the character. Stallone didn’t appreciate this, since the character was at his core a tortured war vet – not the kind of thing that should be an action figure. However, he didn’t have much say, since he didn’t own the character.
Even more, a 1986 animated series called “Rambo: The Force of Freedom” appeared on television, which had a far-softened version of the character, doing good deeds and fighting the bad guy (a nefarious villain named General Warhawk). Once again, Stallone wasn’t pleased, but once again he had no ability to stop it. Thankfully for him, however, the show only lasted a single season.
The Love Life of a Movie Star
Let’s take a break from Stallone’s professional career to talk about his personal life. We mentioned actress Sasha Czack a while ago, and she and Stallone got married on December 28th, 1974, just a little bit of time before Stallone became a household name. The couple had a son, Sage Moonblood Stallone (it seems unique names have always been a thing in Hollywood) who was born in 1976, and a second son named Seargeoh born in 1979.
Sadly, Sage died in 2012 due to heart disease at the age of thirty-six. Seargeoh was diagnosed with autism at an early age. The first Stallone couple got divorced after a little more than ten years of marriage on February 14th, 1985. Divorced on Valentine’s Day, that’s gotta be rough.
A Bachelor Again
After ten years of marriage, Stallone was a bachelor, at the exact same time he was a thrilling movie star and one of the biggest box-office attractions around. That’s called good timing, folks. It wasn’t long before Stallone got hitched to model and actress Brigitte Nielson – less than a year, actually, since the marriage was in December again.
You might know Nielson from the films “Red Sonja” (with Schwarzenegger) and “Rocky IV,” in which she played Ludmilla Vobet Drago, the wife of Ivan Drago – the blonde member of Soviet Russia that so lovingly watches Drago work out during the montage. The two actually became engaged during the filming of the movie, and married at the home of Hollywood producer Ivan Winkler. The marriage lasted all of two years, and both it and the subsequent divorce were regular tabloid fodder.
Not Just on Screen
After proving that he could handle himself in the ring – at least, for a movie – Stallone started Tiger Eye Productions, a boxing promotional company, sometime in the early eighties. His debut as a promotional manager was the Sean O’Grady vs. Pete Ranzany fight, with Stallone backing O’Grady.
He also signed Aaron Pryor to a three-year exclusive promotional agreement, something that would come up in the courts when Pryor retired and then unretired without checking with Tiger Eye Productions, first. It was a whole thing. However, both boxers would go on to be world champions...or they were already world champions. Look, we’ll be honest here, there isn’t a ton of information about Tiger Eye Productions.
A Man of Two Sides
Stallone thrilled as a down-and-out boxer, a returning champ, and an American hero in the Rocky movies, as well as a shell-shocked vet in the Rambo films or a traditional action star, but there is also a long list of Stallone movies that simply flopped. Not even counting the ones already discussed, there’s the remake of the thirties classic “Angels With Dirty Faces,” the mere idea of which was met with such horror the project was canceled.
That came in 1985, and in ‘87 Stallone starred in “Over the Top,” a film about arm wrestling. There’s the early-nineties film “Oscar,” as well as the 1992 film “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,” all of which were critical and commercial failures. How could one actor have such amazing heights as “Rocky” and “First Blood,” but also have so many failures?
Another War to Fight
If there’s one thing we can count on from Sly Stallone, it’s coming out with a killer action movie after a couple of stinkers. This time it was “Rambo III” to the rescue, which has Rambo journeying to the Soviet-Afghan war to rescue his old commanding officer, Colonel Sam Trautman, a main character from the previous two movies. Compared to the previous two movies, the movie wasn’t a critical or box office success.
The unabashedly anti-Soviet tone of the film was poorly timed, as Mikhail Gorbachev had just opened the iron curtain to the West, and the USSR was changing in its ways just as the movie was being developed. Critics said that the film was far from the thoughtful drama it once was – it had become little more than schlocky action.
The Most Expensive Movie Ever
At the time of its production, “Rambo III” was the most expensive movie ever filmed, with receipts sometimes totaling up to sixty-three million dollars. Sure, not an immense amount now, but inflation hits everything, even movie budgets. While not every account comes up with the same number, it was undoubtedly the most expensive movie ever, but it wouldn’t be for long. Just two years after “Rambo III,” “Die Hard 2” ended up with a final bill of something around seventy million dollars, easily beating Stallone’s latest blockbuster.
Bruce Willis only had a year to enjoy the accolade, however – a little film called “Terminator 2” dropped in 1991, costing a crazy ninety-four million big ones, blowing the other two out of the water (no doubt Stallone hated that Schwarzenegger had bested him by so much).
Third Time’s the Charm?
In 1988, fresh off his second divorce, Stallone met model Jennifer Flavin, beginning a relationship that would continue unabated until 1994. At that point, however, Stallone was notified that he was having a child with model Janice Dickinson. Naughty, naughty. Still, Stallone wanted to do the right thing and was engaged to Dickinson until it was revealed that the child wasn’t his. What a twisted web these people weave. It’s like a soap opera.
Stallone’s relationship with Dickinson came to a halt. After a brief engagement with model Angie Everhart, he ended up getting back into a relationship with Flavin. As of September 2022, the couple is still together, though things got a little rocky for some time, with Flavin filing for divorce, though the filing was rescinded after the couple reconciled.
A Series Going on Too Long
The "Rocky" series now contains a total of eight films, as long as we’re counting the spin-off "Creed" movies. Which we are. However, it seems Stallone never wanted the series to go so long – in fact, speaking with famous critic Roger Ebert in 1979 shortly before the release of “Rocky II,” Stallone revealed the original plan was to cap the series after the third installment. He even said, out loud, that “there will never be a “Rocky IV.” We all know how that turned out.
While filming “Rocky IV,” he told interviewers that there would never be a “Rocky V.” There would be. After every movie that has come out, Stallone has said that was that, but even now there are mutterings about another addition to the franchise.
Back into Fighting Form
By 1993, Stallone was in a bona fide slump. His last couple of films had been big flops. Even the latest installment of his most famous series, “Rocky V” got negative reviews. It made money, sure, but it was nothing like the success of any of the previous films. However, 1993 would give him a chance to return to form with a couple of different movies.
The first was the surprisingly good sports/action movie “Cliffhanger,” which pitted Stallone as a rock-climbing hero up against the villainous John Lithgow, who played a thief who was willing to do a great deal to steal a whole lot of money. The second film was the science-fiction action film “Demolition Man,” which has Stallone as a frozen cop, Wesley Snipes as a frozen criminal, and Sandra Bullock as a very warm female lead.
Keep Hanging On
“Cliffhanger” was a surprise to many. It seemed like little more than your standard action film starring Stallone, but the depth of the characters, the action, and the stakes elevated it into a movie worth watching. The movie was mostly filmed at the Dolomites in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and it contains the costliest aerial stunt ever performed – a stuntman was paid a full million dollars to perform an aerial transfer, climbing between two planes at fifteen thousand feet above the ground.
It was the highest-grossing film the week of its release, and the total worldwide gross was over two hundred and fifty million dollars. It also spent eleven weeks at the top of the Japanese box office. Despite mostly positive reviews, the movie still got a couple of Razzie nominations.
A Path of Destruction
In “Demolition Man,” the movie opens with Stallone’s character, a cop, chasing Snipes, leading to the deaths of numerous hostages. Both men are frozen until the year 2032, in which they are awoken to find the world very much changed. Snipes’s character is ready to go on a rampage, and it’s up to Stallone’s character to stop him while navigating the futuristic world he finds himself in.
There is a heavy allusion to works such as Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” as the new world has been so sterilized and scrubbed that the idea of a dangerous criminal like Snipes’s Simon Phoenix is unheard of. Despite mixed reviews, the film earned more than a hundred and fifty million, and has remained watchable ever since. High praise, we know.
The Hits Keep Coming
After a 1993 that saw Stallone find his place again, he was able to continue the momentum rolling into 1994. He co-starred with Sharon Stone in “The Specialist,” and despite the movie being a critical failure, it turned out to be a commercial success. In 1995 Stallone stepped into the uniform of Judge Dredd in the science fiction film of the same name.
The film had a budget of a whopping one hundred million, but it was just barely successful enough to, for a brief moment, make Stallone one of the highest-earning actors in the world. He signed a deal with Universal Pictures to produce three films for a total of sixty million dollars, making him only the second actor to earn twenty million per film, after Jim Carrey.
Making Fun of Himself
Despite this high rate, Stallone received no money from Universal Studios, but it’s because none of the three films were ever made. 1995 continued unabated, however, with Stallone appearing in the thriller film “Assassins” alongside Julianne Moore and Antonio Banderas. It wasn’t very good.
In the same year, Stallone and a number of other celebrities appeared in a short by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of “South Park” fame to celebrate the Seagram Company acquiring Universal Studios. In the short, Stallone plays an overblown version of Rocky Balboa, whose accent is so thick that he has to have subtitles. He gets heated at one point, and has to be placated with a wine cooler that is bad enough he snarls “stupid cheap studio!”
On the Decline
It seemed like the roles were running out for Stallone, but he still managed to find his way to the box office. In 1996 he starred in the film “Daylight” as a former emergency services chief trying to rescue survivors after an underground tunnel explosion. The film underperformed. A year later, he played against type by appearing as a dim-witted and overweight police officer in the crime drama “Cop Land.”
Following that film, which was a modest success, he provided voice-over work for the computer-animated film “Antz,” which ended up being a big domestic hit. At that point, however, things began to get really quiet. It would be two more years before Stallone appeared on the big screen one way or another, and it wasn’t the most noble of returns, either.
Gaining for His Art
A lot of the films Stallone has acted in have forced him to go through intense physical training, weapons practice, and boxing lessons, but “Cop Land” was a movie of a different sort. Instead of shedding the pounds he was asked to pack them on, and he did so with aplomb. Joining greats like Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta, Stallone wanted to prove his worth as a solid actor, so he did what he had to do.
He gained forty pounds for the role, thanks to a steady diet of pancakes, cheesecake, and pizza. Gaining weight isn’t fun, but at least he got to enjoy himself while doing it. In addition, Stallone wore a silicone ear plug in one ear, since the character he played is partially deaf.
Stallone has been responsible at least in part for a whole lot of great movies, but there are also plenty of stinkers on his filmography that didn’t escape notice. He’s been a regular at the Golden Raspberry Awards, which catalogs the worst films, performances, and technical details of the year in movies. Sort of like a more-fun Oscars. In fact, Stallone is the leader in the Razzies, nominated for twenty and winning ten.
His first came from his 1985 flop “Rhinestone,” and then he got two more from next year’s “First Blood Part II,” Worst Actor and Worst Screenplay. He even got one for his turn in “Rocky IV,” which seems like sacrilege. Even more, he was nominated for and won the Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990. And there are plenty more, too.
More Than Just a Movie Maker
It’s not the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of an artist, but actors and directors are artists in their own right. However, it turns out that Stallone is a much more traditional artist at the same time. He’s actually a fairly well-regarded painter. He started in his teens and was able to sell small paintings in order to keep himself afloat while he was in college.
He even thinks that he’s a better painter than he is an actor, since with painting it’s far more personal and he can do whatever he wants – no studio heads looking over his shoulders. He’s even had his work displayed in an exhibition in the German Osthaus Museum Hagen. Honestly, it’s good stuff.
Not Giving Up
In 2000, Stallone appeared in the thriller “Get Carter,” a remake of the British 1971 film of the same name, but it was critically panned. So too were the films “Driven,” “Avenging Angelo,” and “D-Tox.” All were critical and commercial failures, and all of them starred Stallone. He tried out a few villainous roles, such as in “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over,” for which he won a Razzie.
He was able to stop his slide by appearing in a neo-noir crime drama “Shade,” which had a limited release but received plenty of critical praise. He was attached to direct and star in a movie called “Notorious,” about the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., but the movie was eventually released without Stallone’s involvement.
Time moved on. The roles, while they didn’t dry up completely, slowed heavily. In fact, his time in the 2003 “Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over” was his last for almost three years. However, there were plenty of other things to keep Stallone busy. In 2005, alongside Sugar Ray Leonard, he was the co-presenter of the NBC reality television boxing competition series “The Contender.” He made a couple of guest appearances in the show “Las Vegas,” and also inducted professional wrestler Hulk Hogan in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Hogan had appeared in “Rocky III” as the wrestler “Thunderlips,” squaring off against Rocky in a charity fight. In August of 2005, Stallone released the book “Sly Moves,” which was his guide to fitness and nutrition, as well as information about his life and films.
The Pudding Empire
Like so many other celebrities, Stallone isn’t just interested in acting or writing. He also wanted to put his famous name on products, in order to have people buy them, and thus earn more money. But some of the things that Stallone has signed up for are a bit odd – for example, there’s the pudding. In 2005, He created a company for fitness supplements and dietary products called Instone, and one of the things the company created was a low-carb, high-protein pudding snack.
Despite appearing with Larry King to hawk the product, it was embroiled in a lawsuit with a food scientist over the right to the formula. This legal battle rolled on for years and years before the company finally went under and the dream of a pudding empire was dead.
Ending the Hiatus
Stallone’s time away from film ended in 2006 with his return to his most famous character. After the failure of “Rocky V,” “Rocky Balboa” ended up being a critical and commercial hit. Stallone was hoping for a more appropriate climax to Rocky’s story, and so he wrote, directed, and starred in the film. Rocky has gone from a champion to a widower who is running a struggling Italian restaurant, trying to keep himself out of poverty, before getting roped into the ring once again.
Just like the first film, it was an unexpected box office success, raking in three times the opening night estimates. Critical scores were also relatively high, with most critics enjoying the film but understanding it wasn’t perfect. Members of the boxing community apparently attended the film in droves.
Reprising the Other Famous Role
With the success of “Rocky Balboa,” Stallone decided to resurrect his second most-famous role, Rambo. It came in the form of “Rambo” or “John Rambo” in countries where the first film was titled “Rambo.” However, unlike “Rocky Balboa,” this film was less a return to form and more just another in the pile of flops that collected around Stallone, even as he tried to ignore them.
The film made back its budget, yes, and did okay at the box office, but critics weren’t as kind to the film. Praise went to the action sections and Stallone’s acting, but the film’s excessive violence was a common sticking point. Some called it nauseating, which really means something when it comes to a film in the Rambo series.
In Trouble in Australia
Most people think that HGH – human growth hormone, more commonly known as steroids – is illegal in the United States, but that’s not exactly true. Sure, using them for athletics is unsporting at best, but for an older actor trying to get into shape for an action film, like Stallone was for the 2008 film “Rambo,” it’s legal.
Unless he takes the chemicals to Australia, where it is outlawed with no exceptions. Stallone made a statement saying that he had made a terrible mistake bringing the drugs and that he was unaware it was illegal in the country. He pled guilty and was willing to do the time. He didn’t appear in court and was fined only five thousand dollars after all was said and done.
A Little Bit Embarrassing
As many times as we’ve seen him step into a ring, Stallone is not a real boxer. Despite that fact, however, many people would have a hard time naming a man more synonymous with boxing, even if they aren’t talking about his on-screen persona. His movies have led many to take an actual interest in the sport, and thus, in 2011, he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
At the same time, legendary fighters Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. were also inducted, leaving Stallone feeling a little embarrassed about the whole situation. He knew that he wasn’t really a fighter, and he felt odd getting the honor since he had never stepped into the ring for real. Don’t worry about it, man, just enjoy the recognition.
Bringing Everyone Together
As one of the true action stars in the history of movies, what better way to celebrate the stars of old than with a movie that had all of them? That was the thought Stallone had while coming up with “The Expendables,” which starred him, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren (in his first theatrical release since 1995), Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and Bruce Willis. How could a film possibly cram all that man into its run time of a hundred and three minutes?
By making sure it was action, action, action until the credits rolled and revealed Arnold Schwarzenegger in a cameo appearance. With a budget of eighty to eighty-two million dollars, the film blew all expectations out of the water, claiming the top spot at the box office the week it was released, eventually earning a worldwide gross of two hundred and seventy-four million dollars.
Even More Expendable
After the rousing success of “The Expendables,” a sequel was quickly put into the works. Released just two years later, “The Expendables 2” featured all the surviving members of the first film, as well as adding Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and upgrading Schwarzenegger to a member of the official credits. After that “The Expendables 3” dropped in 2014, and there was no action star who couldn’t make the list.
New additions include Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, and...Kelsey Grammer? Finally, the fourth film, “Expend4bles” dropped in 2023, with the additions of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, and others joining the cast. The first three movies were undeniable hits, yet were still little more than fun, explosive action movies.
Cutting a Certain Fight Scene
It seems Stallone has a habit of getting too close to death while filming some of his scenes. While filming a fight with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Stallone accidentally ended up with, of all things, a broken neck. And not the good kind! He would later tell FHM that the fight was so vicious he ended up getting a hairline fracture in his spine, requiring a very serious operation and putting a stop to shooting for a while.
Stallone is now the proud owner of a metal plate in his neck. Unfortunately, and to no surprise, the fight scene had to be cut out of the movie. Steve Austin was a professional wrestler – someone who fake fights for quite a long time. It’s again no surprise that he would be quite good at it.
A New Generation
In 2015, Stallone again reprised his famous boxer role in the film “Creed,” which focused on the son of Rocky’s friend and rival Apollo Creed. Named Adonis “Donnie” Creed, he’s interested in following in his father’s footsteps and tracks down Rocky to help him realize his dream. Just like so many of the other films in the series, “Creed” was a critical and commercial success.
There are plenty of parallels to the original “Rocky” film. Critics raved about the film, saying it was everything they wanted and more. It revived Stallone’s career once again, paved the way for a new generation, and was a sparkling movie, to boot. Stallone was even nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars that year, but failed to bring home the trophy.
A Future in Film Making
In 2018, Stallone formed a film studio he called Balboa Productions with Braden Aftergood, and with every project, Stallone will act as a co-producer. Most of these films are ones that featured Stallone in some way, but not all of them. There have been three under the banner released so far: “Rambo: Last Blood,” “One Night: Joshua vs. Ruiz,” and “Creed III.”
As of this writing, there are ten films being produced, including an untitled sequel to Stallone’s earlier hit “Cliffhanger.” The company has also helped get several television series on the air, including the current Paramount Plus offering “Tulsa King,” which stars Stallone, his first time on a streaming television show. He plays a mafia boss.
From a kid bullied and living on the streets to one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, the distance Stallone had to go was immense, but he never stopped. He, his wife, and his three daughters starred in a reality TV series “The Family Stallone” in May of 2023, and we imagine even after all that time of dealing with paparazzi, doing interviews, and accepting awards, it’s a little strange for Sylvester to have that kind of thing happen to him.
Through all the ups and downs of his long career, Stallone never stopped trying. He always had another project on the stove, even if it was just another sequel. The guy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – that means he was successful, even if you start counting the flops.