Sylvester Stallone Had to Sleep in Bus Stations & Sell His Dog before ‘Rocky’s Release

Acclaimed actor Sylvester Stallone is one of the prominent figures in Hollywood. Early in his career, he slept in bus stations before becoming famous. See how his struggles led to his success.

Sylvester Stallone has captivated the world with his exceptional acting skills. He is iconic for portraying boxer Rocky Balboa in the 1976 film “Rocky” and Vietnam War veteran John Rambo in the 1982 movie “First Blood.”

“Rocky” became a critical and widely hit movie. The classic film successfully scored ten Academy Award nominations, including best actor, director, and picture.

Sylvester Stallone as boxer Rocky Balboa in the 1976 movie “Rocky.” | Photo:

Stallone became one of the biggest action stars in the world after the premiere of “Rocky.” He then wrote, directed, and starred in its sequels premiered in 1979, 1982, 1985, and 1990. 

He also made two other sequels for “First Blood,” titled “Rambo: First Blood Part II” in 1985 and Rambo III in 1988. Although action films have been his trademark, he never shied away from acting to other movie genres.

Stallon starred in comedy films, including the 1984 film “Rhinestone” opposite Dolly Parton and “Oscar” in 1991. He also appeared in the futuristic action movie “Demolition Man” in 1993.

Sylvester Stallone attends the photocall for “Sylvester Stallone & Rambo V: Last Blood” at the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 24, 2019 in Cannes, France. | Photo: Getty Images

Years before “Rocky,” Stallone, then 24, was desperate for work of any kind. Because of that, he agreed to star in a low-budget film “Party at Kitty and Stud’s.” He said of the movie:

“It was either do that movie or rob someone…”

Stallone said he hated the script and initially wanted nothing to do with it. But because he slept in a bus station at the time, he could not turn down the opportunity.

Stallone already lived a difficult life. He grew up in a violent home in York City where his mother and father had been very hostile, resulting in divorce in 1957. 

The divorce of his parents affected Stallone. He first lived with his father in Maryland and then moved to his mother’s home in Philadelphia, where he attended a special high school for troubled youth.

After completing high school, he studied drama at the American College in Switzerland and later moved to the University of Miami, where he focused on dramatic arts.


However, Stallone left college and moved to New York City to pursue acting. He worked odd jobs, including cleaning the lions’ cages at the Central Park Zoo. Because of the financial crisis, he also sold his dog, Butkus, for $100.

For Stallone, to have various jobs while homeless and unable to feed Butkus with food made him desperate. Stallone said he was at the “very end” of his rope. 

Stallone, who happens to be a struggling writer, made a script for “Rocky,” which made many producers interested. As part of the deal, he played Rocky Balboa in exchange for the script.


To sell the script was another way for Stallone to reclaim his beloved dog. When he visited Little Jimmy, the latter insisted that his children loved the dog and threatened to kill him.

Stallone begged to get his dog, but Little Jimmy remained hard at him. For the love of his dog, Stallone decided to pay him $3,000 because authorities would arrest him if he fought back. 

In addition to that, Stallone featured him in the “Rocky” movie. The movie, which had a budget of $1.1 million, amassed more than $225 million at the box office.

The film inspired the late boxer Muhammad Ali, who got knocked out by underdog Chuck Wepner. Stallone used the moment as a metaphor for life and created boxing underdog Rocky Balboa.

It paved the way for Stallone’s Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Screenplay in 1977. The reprisal of his character in 2015 “Creed” earned him another Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actor.

In 2018, Stallone announced that his “Rocky” days were finally over. He shared in an Instagram post that his reprised character in “Creed II” would be his “last rodeo.” He said:

“Well, this is probably my last rodeo because what I thought happened, and has happened, I never expected [sic].”

He thought his character was over in 2006, but his “Creed” co-star Michael B. Jordan will continue what he started. With Jordan, Stallone said a new world would open up for the new generation of audience.

Stallone pulled Jordan into the frame and celebrated the new box-office champion. The respected actor told the 31-year-old star to “carry the mantel” of Rocky Balboa’s legacy.

Since retiring his famous character, Stallone has focused his sweet time on his family.

Stallone thanked the fans for their support and said it was an “ultimate privilege” to play the meaningful character. While leaving his iconic role may be heartbreaking and bittersweet, he said everything must pass and end.


Since retiring his famous character, Stallone has focused his sweet time on his family. The legendary movie star has been happily married to his wife, Jennifer Flavin, for 24 years. 

Flavin is more than being Stallone’s wife. Besides being a former model, she is also an entrepreneur, managing Serious Skin Care, which sells beauty products and treatments.

The longtime pair shares three beautiful daughters –  Sophie Rose, 25, Sistine, 23, and 19-year-old Scarlet Rose. Stallone has grown close to his children.

Stallone is also a father of two sons named Sage and Seargeoh from his former wife, Sasha Czack. Both of his sons followed in his footsteps in acting, but Sage passed away in 2012 from a heart attack. 

While Seargeoh continued acting, his career was cut short due to his autism spectrum disorder. Among Stallone’s four children, only Sistine entered the limelight. Scarlet Rose had just graduated high school.

Sistine previously starred in the 2019 film “47 Meters Down: Uncaged ” and the recently released movie “Midnight in the Switchgrass” starring Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly.

Meanwhile, her older sister, Sophie Rose, hosts the podcast “Unwaxed” and runs the Bookstagram account “@FavoriteBookClub,” where she shares her love for reading.  

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