Happy Birthday, Sly!

For most of us, actor/director/writer Sylvester Stallone is and always will be Rocky and Rambo. He has imbibed the role of Rocky and being a boxer so well that he joined Mike Tyson as an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2006, he was also awarded the Boxing Writers Association of America Award for ‘Lifetime Cinematic Achievement in Boxing’. While shooting for one of the Rocky movies, he asked his co-star Dolph Lundgren to punch him as hard as he could – Stallone ended up in intensive care. Well, as he said, "It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward". This wasn’t the only time he was injured though, his other films have also contributed to a broken neck and finger more often than not.

He is so passionate about boxing that he became a boxing promoter decades ago, with his company ‘Tiger Eye Productions‘ signing world champion boxers Sean O’Grady and Aaron Pryor. A two tonne 10-foot bronze sculpture of Rocky now stands near a Philadelphia museum.

Ever wondered why Sylvester generally has a snarling look and slightly slurred speech? The reason is that he was born looking tough, an absolute fighter; although by accident. While his mother was giving birth to him, the obstetricians had to use two pairs of forceps to bring him out, accidentally severing a few facial nerves, causing paralysis in and around his lips. This ‘accident’ seemed to have worked in his favor, giving him his signature look. He himself said that: “I’m not handsome in the classical sense. The eyes droop, the mouth is crooked, the teeth aren’t straight, the voice sounds like a Mafioso pallbearer, but somehow it all works”.

He got into body-building as a teenager, but since weights were costly, he had to innovatively use automobile parts (from a junkyard) as well as cinder blocks and poles. In 2005, he also launched a health/lifestyle magazine titled Sly, just for four issues though. Enough of his macho persona that we all know of. With more than four and a half decades in the industry, he is much more than that. As he turns 70 today, July 6, let’s have a look at seven of Sly’s best non-action films:

Cop Land (1997)
This crime thriller has an ensemble cast of Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro. A small New Jersey town is infested with corrupt New York City cops, leading honest Sheriff Heflin (Stallone) to go against the grain.

Escape to Victory (1981)
Starring alongside Michael Caine and footballer Pele himself, Sly delivers in a film which is about prisoners of war who play an exhibition match of football against a German team.

Oscar (1991)
A screwball comedy, Sly stars as a mob boss trying to give up his life of crime and ‘go straight’.

F.I.S.T. (1978)
In his first film after Rocky, he plays the role of a warehouse worker who becomes involved in the labor union leadership of the ‘Federation of Inter-State Truckers’.

Paradise Alley (1978)
Written and directed by Sly, he also stars in this sports drama, where three slum-dwelling brothers help each other using their respective expertise.

Over The Top (1987)
Another sport drama, Stallone plays a truck driver who aims to win back his estranged son while becoming a champion arm wrestler.

Reach Me (2014)
This pure drama is about how a self-help book inspires a diverse group of people: a journalist, an editor, a former inmate, a hip-hop mogul, an actor and an undercover cop.

That’s not all, he has also provided his voice to animated films like Antz and Zookeeper. We congratulate him on his many contributions. Respect to you, Mr. Stallone, and happy birthday once again!

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