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From Sly Boy to Fly Boy: Facts You Didn’t Know About Sylvester Stallone

Photo Credit: andrewz / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / United Artists / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: andrewz / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / United Artists / MovieStillsDB

Sylvester Stallone is a multi-talented star, although, to some, he’s just the guy from Rocky and Rambo. If you aren’t familiar with Sly’s unexpected side, then check out these facts that will open your eyes to the big screen tiger… There’s some tidbits we didn’t even know before researching this article!

Sylvester Stallone and the singing priest

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in 'Creed'
Creed, 2015. (Photo Credit: Wolf / New Line Cinema / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / MovieStillsDB)

Father Lefty was an un-produced pilot focusing on a truly unorthodox Catholic priest. This man of the cloth tackled Frank Sinatra songs by day and criminals by night! Certainly an interesting combination, and one that came from producer Sylvester Stallone.

Floated in 2002, it perhaps reflected Stallone’s own experience with the faith. The Catholic League wasn’t impressed and wrote witheringly about the prospective series at the time. Danny Nucci would have starred as the title character, with one Viola Davis listed among the supporting players.

Kirk Douglas repeatedly punched Sylvester Stallone with all his might

Kirk Douglas as Midge Kelly in 'Champion'
Champion, 1949. (Photo Credit: MoviePics1001 / United Artists / MovieStillsDB)

While Sylvester Stallone has always considered Kirk Douglas a hero in his eyes and one of Hollywood’s greatest who inspired him to pursue acting, the two were more interconnected after he found fame than many are aware. For starters, it was Douglas who was first slotted to play the lead role in First Blood (1982). He abandoned the role after a falling out that couldn’t be resolved, and it was Stallone who eventually took the spot.

The two later starred together in the 1991 comedy film, Oscar, with Stallone, once again, in the lead role and Douglas playing his father. In one scene, Douglas was directed to thrash out at Stallone while in bed. As the latter described, “Kirk was playing my father. The scene was supposed to be him lying in bed and giving me a ‘movie slap’. He’s lying there with his eyes closed, and they’re closed very tight, and he’s swinging, and he’s missing.”

To try and get Douglas riled up, Stallone offered him a challenge he seemingly couldn’t refuse. “I said, ‘Look, Kirk. Ever since I made Rocky, you’ve been dying to take a shot at me. I tell you what? Go for it. I can take it. Let me have your best.’” The thing is, Stallone wasn’t the only one who had boxing training after his filming in Rocky. Douglas had also taken up the sport for the 1949 film, Champion.

At 75 years old, Douglas still packed a wallop. Stallone explained, “I was joking about having his best, but Kirk wasn’t. He gave me back hand, right hand, everything. Then the director said, ‘That’s beautiful, let’s do another one’. I was saying, ‘Are you crazy? I’m suffering brain damage over here.’”

Perhaps Douglas was still harboring some unchecked anger over Stallone taking Rambo, but he clearly got to take it out on the man himself with no consequences.

Sylvester Stallone had a ‘Rocky’ start

Portrait of Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone (Photo Credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection / CORBIS / Getty Images)

Sylvester Stallone has his father to thank for his first name. If his famous mother Jackie had her way, he would have been Tyrone, after movie star Tyrone Power! Francesco, or Frank, switched to Sly – and the rest is non-rhyming screen history.

Stallone’s upbringing was far from idyllic. As a youngster, he went through the foster care system and was subject to bullying that led to his muscle-building activities. Of course, he had the roughest time of all entering the world. The doctor used forceps to birth Sly, severing a nerve and partially paralyzing his lower face. These actions impacted the young man forever. However, he worked hard to make sure his movie star dreams became a reality regardless.

A talented artist

Sylvester Stallone speaking in front of his own painting
Sylvester Stallone, 2022. (Photo Credit: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images)

Did you know Sylvester Stallone uses oil paints, as well as bullets, to get his point across? The Hollywood Reporter previously wrote that a retrospective opened in the city of Hagen, Germany. Retrospective? Believe it or not, Sly has been setting up his easel for half a century! Maybe the gap between a Hollywood action star and an art gallery isn’t so wide. After all, he was “inspired by the experimental work of” action painters like Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning.

The title of this exhibition? The Magic of Being. Hmm, we’d say something, but wouldn’t want Sly to come and beat us up.

Sylvester Stallone’s still friends with the turtles from Rocky (1976)

Sylvester Stallone standing with crew members on the set of 'Rocky II'
Behind-the-scenes of Rocky II, 1979. (Photo Credit: jasonstukay / United Artists / MovieStillsDB)

Sylvester Stallone is still fighting fit decades on from the first Rocky (1976) movie. If you think that’s impressive, wait until you hear about the pet turtles. “Cuff” and “Link” were proudly displayed on social media by Sly during production on Creed II (2018).

A pet-related side fact concerns Stallone’s then-bull mastiff. Financial issues back in the 1970s meant he needed to sell his beloved dog. He managed to buy it back, although the price tag was higher than the original $50. Sly not only coughed up $3,000, he had to put the new – and, it turned out, highly aggressive – owner “Little Jimmy” in the picture to avoid a physical fight.

Rambo nearly went sci-fi

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo in 'Rambo: Last Blood'
Rambo: Last Blood, 2019. (Photo Credit: michaella92 / Millennium Films / MovieStillsDB)

The gory saga of John Rambo appeared to come to a close with 2019’s Last Blood. However, a very different story nearly formed the basis of a fifth instalment 10 years earlier. Rambo V: The Savage Hunt was reportedly based on the novel Hunter by James Byron Huggins. The book focuses on a genetically-enhanced monster. Yes, a monster, that Rambo would need to take down for the good of Mankind.

It isn’t unusual for Hollywood to use unrelated source material and retool it for big franchises. That being said, this seems one step too far. It was developed and ultimately ditched in favor of more realistic adversaries.

Trying to make a movie with Jackie Chan for years

Jackie Chan hugging Sylvester Stallone
Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone. (Photo Credit: Manny Hernandez / Getty Images)

Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan have been pals for decades. Naturally, they want to work together. It’s just a case of finding the right project. Chan wasn’t interested in the role of villain Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man (1993). He felt it detracted from his status as a screen hero. When Stallone wanted him to join The Expendables franchise, Chan turned him down again. This time, he didn’t want to share billing with multiple action stars.

It nearly happened for them with the 2023 action thriller Hidden Strike. As reported in 2017, their much-anticipated team-up saw them potentially kicking the butts of ruthless oil thieves. Unfortunately, it was Stallone’s turn to bail.

Arnold Schwarzenegger set a trap which he walked right into

Sylvester Stallone as Sgt. Joseph Andrew "Joe" Bomowski in 'Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot'
Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, 1992. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Universal Studios / MovieStillsDB)

Speaking of friends (well, former rivals), Sylvester Stallone fell into a trap set by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990s. Sly heard that Arnie was up for a new comedy called Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Determined to pip him to the post, he swooped in and bagged the role for himself. Trouble was, Schwarzenegger had offered up a bad script – one he had no intention of taking in the first place.

Stallone had no option but to star as a cop being pestered by his mother (Golden Girls Estelle Getty). The reviews were scathing. “He’s always been clever,” Stallone said about the “Austrian Oak” in 2014.

Sylvester Stallone could have been the Man of Steel

Sylvester Stallone standing with a statue of his 'Rocky' character
Sylvester Stallone. (Photo Credit: Foc Kan / WireImage / Getty Images)

Like Superman, Rambo arguably fought for truth, justice and the American Way. Think that’s where the similarity ends? Nope. Before Christopher Reeve signed up as Clark Kent, Sylvester Stallone was in the frame. Sly put himself there, due to a long-held admiration for the Man of Steel.

Stallone really went above and beyond to pursue his passion. Although, as a youngster, he learned that flying wasn’t in his repertoire. As written by Factinate, he took a trip out of a window, “deciding to use an umbrella to help slow down his fall.” Sounds more like the Penguin!

Stallone wound up breaking his collarbone, so it could have been a lot worse without the umbrella.

More from us: Why Doesn’t Jackie Chan Play The Villain In His Movies?

Why didn’t he get the role of Superman? Reportedly, Marlon Brando used his own powers to veto the casting. It’s also mentioned that Stallone appeared more like someone from Rome than Krypton!