Sylvester Stallone: A Journey to Success through Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables

Sylvester Stallone is an iconic figure in the world of Hollywood. His journey from an impoverished and aspiring actor to an action legend is a truly inspirational story. Three of his most famous franchises, Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables, have left an indelible mark on the world of action cinema. 

Let’s explore some of the landmarks on his remarkable journey to success and also check out some iconic Stallone-themed memorabilia available on our Kudos website.

Sylvester Stallone: A Rocky Start Sylvester Stallone's path to success was far from easy. Before breaking into Hollywood, he faced numerous rejections and setbacks. His journey began with small roles in films like "The Lords of Flatbush" and "Capone." However, it was his determination and resilience that eventually led to his breakthrough role as Rocky Balboa in the 1976 classic "Rocky."
Famously, Stallone wrote the initial draft of the ‘Rocky’ screenplay in three and a half days, after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner on March 24th, 1975. United Artists loved Stallone’s script but saw the film as a starring vehicle for well-established stars like Robert Redford, James Caan or Ryan O’Neal. Stallone, however, refused to accept a large pay-out to sell the script and was determined to play the leading man.

Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff eventually signed a contract with Stallone, which allowed him to be the writer and star of ‘Rocky’. As Stallone had zero pulling power at the box-office, United Artists limited the budget to a little over a million dollars. They would ultimately spend a further $4.2 million dollars on marketing, when studio heads saw the potential of the finished film.

Directed by John G. Avildsen and co-starring Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith and Burt Young, Rocky became the highest grossing movie of 1976 and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards. It won three, including ‘Best Picture’, which was an incredible achievement given it’s humble beginnings. The movie’s stratospheric success was also a personal triumph for Stallone, who was lauded for both his writing and acting.

Rocky became the archetypal underdog story both on and off the screen and is rightly considered as a modern classic. It was the launching pad for Stallone’s trajectory to superstardom and spawned a number of popular sequels, before igniting the Creed franchise in 2015.

We were very proud to have a head-guard and boxing shorts from ‘Rocky 3’ - one of our personal favourites from the epic movie franchise - in our portfolio, before selling them on to devoted collectors.

The Rambo Saga: A One-Man Arm
y Keen to find another heavy hitting movie franchise after the success of Rocky, Stallone turned his attention to David Morrell’s 1972 novel, ‘First Blood’. A number of executives and studios had tried and failed to adapt the pulpy story for the silver screen in the 1970s. They could never find the right tone for the now famous tale of John Rambo, a troubled and misunderstood Vietnam veteran, who must use his elite combat and survival skills to evade capture during a massive manhunt in rural Washington state.

Directed by Ted Kotcheff and co-starring Richard Crenna and Brian Dennehy, "Rambo: First Blood" became an instant hit at the box-office in 1982 and was considered required viewing on the fledgling home-video platform. The movie’s underlying anti-establishment themes, Stallone's emotive and largely subtextual performance - the final monologue notwithstanding - and the gritty action sequences all struck a chord with audiences worldwide.

Against all the odds, Stallone transformed John Rambo, a brooding and enigmatic one-man army, into a pop-culture icon. First Blood’s success led to several sequels, and the franchise remains an integral and influential part of action movie history even today.

Memorabilia Highlight: For avid fans, Kudos Memorabilia offers a chance to own an original "Rambo: First Blood" UK Quad Poster. This vintage poster by artist, Drew Struzan, features iconic imagery and bold typography and is considered a collector's dream. For more details, please click here...

The Expendables: A Star-Studded Ensemble In 2010, Sylvester Stallone took the action genre to new heights by assembling a star-studded ensemble cast for "The Expendables." The film featured action icons such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Jason Statham, along with Stallone himself. The Expendables was Stallone’s love letter to fans of the genre, delivering intense action and tongue-in-cheek dialogue.

The Expendables 2 continued the saga with even more firepower, adding Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and others to the hi-octane mix. Stallone's character, Barney Ross, showcased his leadership and action prowess, solidifying his status as a true action hero.

Memorabilia Highlight: Kudos Memorabilia offers Sylvester Stallone's Tactical Vest from "The Expendables 2." This iconic article of clothing worn by Stallone himself during the filming of the movie can be yours to own. It would make a remarkable addition to any action movie enthusiast's collection. For more details, please click here...

Sylvester Stallone's incredible success story is a testament to hard work, determination, and the ability to overcome adversity. His dedication to the world of action cinema has left an indelible mark on Hollywood, and his roles in franchises like Rocky, Rambo and The Expendables have solidified his status as a bona-fide action legend. Be a part of his remarkable story with Kudos Memorabilia.