Let no one tell you that Sylvester Stallone has ever had it easy. As he was being delivered in the hospital on July sixth, 1946 in a charity hospital in Hell’s Kitchen of New York City, improper use of forceps ended up leaving him with a damaged facial nerve, which gave him his noteworthy droopy left eyelid and slurred speech. After that, he had to spend much of his infancy in boarding care in order to recover, but he rejoined his family when he was five, moving with them to Maryland.
Many people seem to think that the droop was caused by Bell’s Palsy, also known as acute peripheral facial palsy, but the damage to the nerve around his mouth is the culprit. The partial paralysis would be a driving force in Stallone’s life.
What About His Parents?
Sylvester Stallone was born to Francesco “Frank” Stallone Sr. and Jacqueline “Jackie” Stallone, who lived in Manhattan. Frank was a hairdresser and beautician, while Jackie was, at times, an astrologer, a dancer, and a promoter of women’s wrestling. His father had been born in Italy – specifically Gioia del Colle, Apulia – and then moved to the States in the thirties. Mrs. Stallone was of French and Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
His father was also at one point an actor – his single role was that of a timekeeper in the movie that would elevate his son to stardom, “Rocky.” He also wrote a single novel, “Stewart Lane,” published in 2010, about a couple that moves to the country to renovate an old house. His mother once lived with the famous bodybuilder Charles Atlas.
A Boxer by Any Other Name
You might be tempted to call this famous actor Rocky or Rambo, but his full name is Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone. The many biographies of the actor tell us that his original birth name was Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone, but it was originally something else entirely. His mother originally wanted to name him Tyrone, since she admired the actor Tyrone Power. Stallone’s father eventually overruled her, changing the name to Sylvester.
Sly went by the nickname “Binky” when he was a child, though his schoolmates quickly changed this to “Stinky,” prompting him to start going by Mike or Michael. He also usually shortened his middle name Gardenzio, an alteration of the Italian name Gaudenzio, to simply Enzio.
The Younger Brother
Born three years after Sly, Francesco Stallone Jr. Junior eventually grew up to become a working musician, and his biggest hit was thanks to his more famous older brother. The song “Far From Over” was part of the soundtrack to Sylvester’s film “Staying Alive.” The song ended up reaching number ten on the US “Billboard” Hot 100 chart, also earning Frank Jr. a Golden Globe nomination. The soundtrack for the film, consisting of Frank Jr. and a number of other artists, also received a Grammy nomination.
Junior has also had some time as an actor, including a recurring role on the short-lived sitcom “Movie Stars.” He appeared alongside other siblings of stars, including Don Swayze and Joey Travolta. Frank is also, for some reason, the non-sequitur punchline to many jokes from comedian Norm Macdonald while he was on “Saturday Night Live.”
A Family That Moves Together…
The Stallone family spent a lot of time moving around when Sylvester was a child. They began in New York, but Frank Stallone Sr. moved the family to Washington D.C. and then to Silver Springs, Maryland in order to open a beauty school in the early 1950s. The elder Stallone had opened several barber shops in New York, and in Maryland he did even more, not content with just a single beauty school.
He ended up starting several of the schools as well as several more hair salons in the area. By all accounts, these businesses were successful, as Frank spent most of his life in the area.