Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2023 Issue

Sylvester Stallone Started His Film Career by Stealing Books

Sylvester Stallone, as Rocky, takes on Apollo Creed.

The rich and famous attribute their success to many different influences. For famed movie actor Sylvester Stallone, one of his sources of success was stealing books. We need to stop right here and clearly state this is not a recommendation. Far more people who start by stealing books develop careers as prisoners than movie stars.

 

Stallone was a featured guest at the recent Toronto International Film Festival. He spoke to the gathering before the premiere showing of the documentary film about his life, Sly. Stallone became most famous for his heroes, Rocky and Rambo in particular. He attributed his fascination with heroic characters who put everything on the line for their worthy cause to seeing the movie Hercules when he was 12 years old. It led to his getting a job as an usher in a theater and working in a bookshop next door.

 

Being an usher in a theater was part of his inspiration, but there was another part that led to his writing his own stories. According to Yahoo News, he explained, “I worked at a bookstore and I worked right next to the theater...and I would steal books, and I mean lots of books. Then the police came looking for me. I said, 'I've got to burn the books.' They're in the bathtub, nothing's burning... So literally they said, 'You know what, keep the books.'”

 

“That's when I started to read and read and read and study, and I basically self-educated. That's when I got very involved in Edgar Allan Poe. So if I hadn't 'borrowed' the books, I never would have written those kinds of screenplays.” He continued that the name of one of his characters, Apollo Creed, came from one of the books. “I'm going through a couple of stolen books...and in there it had different counties and cities where the stars would be aligned. There it was, Apollo...in the county of Creed.”

 

Sylvester Stallone's story is an important one for people who think movies and videos have replaced books. Books feed the imagination in ways that movies, which paint the complete picture for you, cannot do. He could write stories that became movies only because he read books. That said, we need to point out that there are better ways to get your books than the method Stallone employed. There are bookstores where you can buy them and online merchants who will ship them to you. Then, if your budget is a bit tight, there is a place where you can get them absolutely free. It's called a library and there undoubtedly is one in your community. You can get all the books you can read and never have to worry about the police knocking on your door.

 

Stallone also had a comment about his main characters that has nothing in particular to do with books, but will be appreciated by our older readers. We have a few. He referred to the possibility of future films about his boxer, Rocky, and his extreme action hero, Rambo. Said Stallone, “I can do Rocky until I'm 100 years old, because there's so many different stories. He doesn't have to fight in the ring. Rambo, I can leave him. He's done pretty much. Even though they want to do another one, I'm going, 'What am I fighting? Arthritis?'”

Stallone must also have been to some extent a book collector. Fourteen books “from the library of Sylvester Stallone” were sold at Heritage Auctions in 2017. They were mainly from name writers such as Tolstoy, Hawthorne, Irving, Balzac, Whitman, Bronte and such. They were valuable copies, ranging in price from $625 to $5,500. The provenance might have helped some.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.
  • Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [THE NOTABLE TRAILS LIBRARY]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: THE TRIAL OF DR. X; ROE V. WADE; THE GALILEO AFFAIR; THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ… CA$300 – 500
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.

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