The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Sylvester Stallone
Michael Sylvester Enzio Stallone was born in New York City on 6 July 1946. Birth complications led to his being delivered with forceps, which did permanent damage to the lower left side of his face, damage that later manifested itself in a perpetual snarl and slurred speech. A sickly child, Stallone spent much of the first five years of his life in foster homes. In 1957 his parents divorced, and while living with his father Stallone was in and out of a dozen schools. When he was 15 he moved to Philadelphia to reside with his mother and her new husband, and was placed in a school for emotionally disturbed children. It's said that his classmates voted Stallone "most likely to end up in the electric chair." He took up fencing, football and weight lifting, and appeared in school plays. He studied drama at the University of Miami before returning to the Big Apple to appear in a few off-Broadway productions as well as a couple of soft-porn productions.
In 1971 he made his screen debut as a thug in Woody Allen's Bananas. He also appeared in The Lords of Flatbush (1974), for which he wrote the screenplay, and Death Race 2000 (1975) before penning the script for Rocky and selling it for next to nothing -- on condition that he get the lead role of a small-time boxer who gets one shot at the big-time and takes it. Rocky won a Best Picture Oscar and earned Stallone Academy Award nominations for both his acting and screenwriting. It seemed a star was born. Stallone followed up this success with F.I.S.T., a film about union organizing which he cowrote and starred in, and Paradise Alley, but neither project fared well at the box office. The moviegoing public wanted more Rocky Balboa, and Stallone obliged them in 1979 with Rocky II, which he wrote and directed.
Stallone tried to break the linkage with Rocky in 1981 with a pair of solid action flicks, Nighthawks and Victory, but it was the same old story -- if Sly wasn't starring as Rocky Balboa the audience wasn't too interested. That changed dramatically in 1982 with First Blood, in which Stallone created a new American film icon, Vietnam vet John Rambo. First Blood spawned a pair of sequels in the 1980s that were spurned by critics but made big box office bucks. Stallone made three more Rocky sequels, as well; in Rocky IV he epitomized America's new patriotism by taking on a killer Soviet boxer named Drago. And in 1988's Rambo III he virtually single-handedly defeated the Soviets in Afghanistan. In between Rocky and Rambo sequels, he made largely forgettable films like Rhinestone (1984), Cobra (1986) and Lock Up (1989). In 1983 he wrote and directed Staying Alive, the disappointing sequel to Saturday Night Fever. But Sly Stallone was larger than life, and bigger than the sum of his movies -- a true action superstar for the Eighties.
In the 1990s Stallone tried a lighter touch with such comedies as Oscar (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992), but had the good sense to return to action flicks with the high-octane thriller Cliffhanger (1993), for which he wrote the screenplay. He had some success in the Nineties, most notably with an earnest performance in the 1997 drama Cop Land, and a few flops as well, like The Specialist (1994) and Judge Dredd (1995). More recently he has starred in Get Carter (2000), Driven (2001; he also wrote the screenplay) and Avenging Angelo (2002). He also provided a voice for the hit animated film Antz (1998).
Stallone has been married several times, first to Sasha Czach; their son Seargeo was born autistic, and they were divorced in 1985. That same year Stallone married model-actress Brigitte Nielsen, his co-star in Cobra; their well-publicized divorce occurred eighteen months later. In the late 1980s he met 19-year-old model Jennifer Flavin; they lived together for several years and were married in 1997. Their baby girl Sophia Rose had to undergo open heart surgery in 1996 at just two-and-a-half months of age; the operation was a success. His brother Frank Stallone is also an actor, and his daughter Sage has appeared with him in Rocky V and Daylight. Stallone's hobby is oil painting.

1980s Filmography
Victory (1981)
Nighthawks (1981)
First Blood (1982)
Rocky III (1982)
Staying Alive (1983)
Rhinestone (1984)
Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)
Rocky IV (1985)
Cobra (1986)
Over the Top (1987)
Rambo III (1988)
Lock Up (1989)
Tango & Cash (1989)

Critics' Comments
Nighthawks (1981)
"Sylvester Stallone still looked like a one-punch performer in this feeble dud about two New York cops (Sly and Billy Dee Williams) assigned to track down an international terrorist in Manhattan."
 -- People Weekly

Rhinestone (1984)
"Ordinarily there's barely enough room on a movie screen for Sylvester Stallone and his ego, let alone anyone else. Well, Sly, meet Dolly Parton. Parton is such a powerful screen personality that her shimmery. sweet-natured energy more than matches Stallone's sullen, macho introversion. The contrast between them is fascinating. . . . [T]his is a charming movie, spunky and full of surprising fun. It's as if a mixture of lasagne and grits turned out to be the hit of the picnic."
-- People Weekly

Rocky IV (1985)
"Rocky IV is movie-making by the numbers. Even the climactic fight scene isn't as exciting as it should be, maybe because we know with a certainty born of long experience how it will turn out. Stallone says this will be the last Rocky movie. He should have taken Rocky Marciano as an example, and retired undefeated."  
-- Roger Ebert

Over the Top (1987)
"Stallone will never disappoint his fans intentionally. He cowrote the script (if writing is the right word) with Stirling Silliphant to formula specs, but Over the Top hasn't got the muscle of his Rocky hits. It's Stallone showing his vulnerable side, a sort of Father Knows Best -- But Can't Put It Into Words." -- Rita Kempley, Washington Post

Lock Up (1989)
"The truth is, Lock Up, incredibly faithful to the formula we've come to expect in a Stallone picture, isn't any better or worse than anything else he's done lately."
 --Chris Hicks, Deseret News

Stallone was listed  as one of the twelve "Promising New Actors of 1976" in Vol. 28 of John Willis' Screen World.
In 1997, Stallone made Empire (UK) Magazine's "Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list, coming in at #92.
With Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stallone is part-owner of the Planet Hollywood chain of restaurants.
Stallone was originally slated to play the part of Detective Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.

1986 - People's Choice Awards, Favorite Motion Picture Actor