While today’s streaming giants have not always made it a priority to tell Italian-American stories, Netflix released a new documentary titled “Sly” on Friday, detailing the life and legacy of award-winning actor Sylvester Stallone.
The hour-and-a-half-long documentary describes how Sly’s “love of film began as an escape from a rocky childhood. From underdog to Hollywood legend, Sylvester Stallone tells his story.”
Stallone is best known for his role as boxer Rocky Balboa in the Rocky movie franchise. Not only was this character written and brought to life by Sly, but Rocky is perhaps the earliest and most popular example of a positive portrayal of an Italian-American character. Stallone’s Italian roots certainly aided in his depiction of the iconic boxer, as his father immigrated from Gioia del Colle in Puglia, Italy during the early 1900s.
In fact, the former Golden Globe winner recently visited his ancestral hometown in September of this year. Both Sylvester and his brother Frank were granted honorary citizenship of Gioia del Colle because of their ties to the town. Stallone’s trip to Italy did not end there though, as the actor also visited Vatican City where he met Pope Francis for the second time, the first of which he was able to hold the keys to the city.
Outside of the Rocky fame, Stallone is also well-known for his contributions to the Expendables and Rambo franchises. While Sly’s most legendary roles came in the 70s and 80s, he has also taken part in more recent projects like Tulsa King, Samaritan, and the Creed trilogy. He even stars in his own reality show that features him and his loved ones called The Family Stallone on Paramount.
However, Stallone did not always secure the roles he wanted, as even the Italian Stallion “didn’t look Italian enough” to land a job as an extra on The Godfather during the famous wedding scene.
Through the ups and downs, Sylvester Stallone has managed to carve out an illustrious career in the film and television industries. With over 100 credits to his name, Stallone is also only one of just two actors in history to have starred in a No. 1 box-office film for six straight decades.