Rocky's Rocky Road to Immortality
His name is Rocky Balboa.
The saga of his real-life creator, Sylvester Stallone, is no less inspiring.
To millions of visitors, the bronze statue of Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, arms uplifted in triumph, atop the steps of the great faux Grecian art museum, was to Philadelphia what the Little Mermaid is to Copenhagen and what Michelangelo's David is to Florence.
Yet the uppity culture vultures of this City of Sibling Love removed it from the Art Museum steps and refuse to return it to its rightful place.
Rocky is not quite the right message going out to Philadelphia, the country and the world.
"His whole life was a million-to-one shot," was the tag line on the poster for "Rocky" in 1976.
The same could be said about Rocky's creator, who was born the same day as George W. Bush.
Sylvester "Sly" Stallone's entry into the world on July 6, 1946, in a New York City charity ward was marred by a forceps accident that caused a facial nerve to be severed, resulting in partial paralysis, a slightly skewed appearance and slurred speech.
By the time he was 30, Stallone had acted in a number of movies and had written 32 screenplays—all of which were rejected. With "Rocky," he hit the jackpot.
He wrote "Rocky" in just three days. He told a writer for The New York Times:
I'm astounded by people who take 18 years to write something. That's how long it took that guy [ Gustave Flaubert ] to write 'Madame Bovary.' And was that ever on the best-seller list? No. It was a lousy book and it made a lousy movie.
When producer Irwin Winkler gave the go-ahead to the "Rocky" project, Stallone reportedly had $106 in his bank account.
Director John G. Avildsen shot the picture in just 28 days and brought it in for an astonishing $1.1 million. "Rocky" grossed more than $225 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable films in history.