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Sylvester Stallone – with a smirk on Hollywood
 
Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone) was born in New York City, to the family of the hairdresser Frank Stallone and Jackie Stallone (nee Labofish), an astrologer and former dancer. His mother comes from a family of wealthy immigrants who escaped to America from Odessa (former Russian Empire, now Ukraine) in 1910, after a wave of pogroms and an arson that destroyed their large silk factory. 
 
Much later, in the 80s and after the start of Perestroika, Jackie, using her contacts with Soviet politicians (an urban legend says she got a helping hand from Gorbachev himself and the KGB), found the last remaining distant relative still living in Odessa – Valery Kravchenko.
 
Stallone's film career started basically because of extreme need: in 1970, having been evicted from his apartment for not paying the rent, he had to spend several days as a drifter, including sleeping at a station, where he saw an ad for a softcore porno film. This film, The Party at Kitty and Stud's (later re-released as The Italian Stallion to cash in on Stallone's fame), brought him $200 and gave him an opportunity to get a 'real' role in No Place to Hide, then in Woody Allen's Bananas,  then in Farewell, My Lovely and Death Race 2000, as well as in guest roles in the TV series Police Story and Kojak.
 
Nicknamed 'Sly' for his famous permanent facial expression and slurred speech, caused by a damaged nerve.
 
In 1975 came the breakthrough... After many unsuccessful trips to various Hollywood studios, Stallone managed to sell the script for his boxing-themed movie for a fraction of the original asking price ($50,000 instead of $350,000) on condition he would play the main role of Rocky Balboa. The first film and its sequels was an astounding success: ten nominations for the Academy Awards, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nominations for Stallone himself,  with three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing!
 
In 1982 came another breakthrough... Rambo: First Blood, created, directed and starred by Stallone himself, was praised by critics and liked by viewers – it was a huge commercial success. Later installments only added to his fame and to his bank account. 
In his later roles, he would unsuccessfully try to change his image, and finally drop the attempts - to much cheering from his fans...
 
Some interesting facts. Rocky was inducted into the National Film Registry, and its film props were placed in the Smithsonian Museum. The front entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art was nicknamed Rocky Steps because of its use for training by Rocky in the film; a statue of Rocky is placed near the museum. Stallone was voted into the Boxing Hall of Fame for his performance in Rocky.
 
Stallone's personal life has been as productive and fruitful as his film career. He has been married three times: first to Sasha Czack, who brought him two sons, then to Brigitte Nielsen, with whom he had a scandalous divorce, and then to supermodel Jennifer Flavin, who brought him three daughters. In 2012 his (finally) happy and steady family life was marred by the tragic and untimely death of his eldest son Sage Moonblood Stallone, who died of a heart attack aged only 36.
 
While not filming, Stallone is painting – he has been a serious artist for the last 35 years, even bringing his collection of abstract paintings, 30 pictures in total, to the Swiss resort of Saint Moritz. In addition, he is trying out the craft of a fashion designer, and plans to present his own clothing line under the "Sly" trademark.
 
Sources: 
"Stallone, Sylvester (Sly)" – Aspen Birnbaum, Pabook libraries (27 November 2011)
"Rambo-ski – Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone's Russian secret" - Daily Mail, Will Stewart (April 11, 2009)
 

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