I’d be mighty surprised if anyone who reads this text doesn’t know who Sylvester Stallone is.
There are few Hollywood stars still working today that can claim to be as famous as Sly Stallone – he’s quite literally been an action movie icon for decades.
But have you ever heard of Sylvester’s mother, Jackie Stallone?
In fact, Sly’s mother has an incredibly fascinating life story of her own, and a lot about her dramatic time on this earth came to light after her tragic death in 2020.
Jackie Stallone during “It Had To Be You” Los Angeles Premiere.
(Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
A huge personality and a mother of show business, Jackie Stallone was known for many things. We’ll say here and now that most people will probably remember her for her many plastic surgery procedures.
Towards the end of her life, however, Jackie opened up regarding her surgeries, giving people quite the surprise with her honest answers …
Jackie Stallone was born Jacqueline Frances Labofish in Washington D.C. in November 1921. Her father John worked as a prominent attorney lawyer in the capital; her mother was of French descent, a Parisian socialite from Brittany.
Her parents first met when Jackie’s father participated in the First World War. They fell in love while John was stationed in France and serving in the U.S. Navy.
As a young girl, Jackie was very active, and she had been inspired by the bodybuilder Charles Atlas when she was little. For some reason, the famous muscleman lived with Jackie’s family, and helped train them in gymnastics and weight lifting. Jackie was awestruck.
At 15 years old, she escaped from her parents’ home to join the Flying Wallenda’s act for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailly Circus.
She had decided to become an acrobat. Only, her father wasn’t happy with his teenage daughter’s career move.
”My father, who was a wealthy lawyer, wanted me to go to law school. But I wanted to be onstage,” Jackie told The Times of London in 2005.
In her youth, Jackie worked as a trapeze artist. She also pursued a career on Broadway, working as a chorus singer before moving home to Washington.
Back in the capital, she started an exercise program on a local TV station. Today, it may not sound like much to the world – but the fact is that Jackie broke barriers and was ahead of her time.
Back in the 1950s, Jackie became the first woman to have a television show on exercise and weightlifting in Washington D.C.
Passionate about training and a long-time advocate for women’s fitness, she did a lot to challenge the norm. In the ’40s and ’50s, women lifting weights was still a relatively new concept – many men thought vacuuming the home was exercise enough.
In the late ’50s, when a nearby gym refused to let Jackie participate in a weight training program, she became angry – and immediately acted on her frustrations. That led to her opening a women-only gym, named Barbella’s, next door.
“Of course, the city tried to close me down every week because I had this big wooden statue of a woman saying ’Barbella’s’ – a woman with about a 56-inch bust – lifting weights, you know? That was my inducement… because for some reason o another, everyone was flatchested in Washington, D.C., in the ’50s,” Jackie told Sun Herald in 1988.
Jackie Stallone would accomplish much more in her life and long-lived career, but it is unclear how well-known she would be today without her iconic son, Sylvester Stallone.
It all began in 1945 when Jackie met hairdresser and part-time actor Frank Stallone Sr. One year later, she gave birth to Sylvester Stallone in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
Sly’s birth was quite dramatic, something Jackie opened up on in an interview with Female First.
“During the delivery to speed things up, they grabbed these ice-picks [forceps] and yanked the baby out paralyzing his whole head and face and part of his body. His body was so deformed it was pathetic,” Jackie said.
The accident left Sly with a partially paralyzed face. It also affected his lip, tongue, and chin, giving Stallone his signature, mumbling speech.
“The doctors told me ‘He’s so crippled you ought to put him away.’ But I decided he was going to walk, he was going to talk,” Jackie said.
Jackie would have another son with Frankie Stallone before they got divorced in 1957. After the break-up, the matriarch of the Stallone family lived a pretty quiet life, but her two son’s kept her busy.
“It was always my children and I against the world. All through life, I was the saviour in the family. I was the mouthy one, and I had the type of children that were always in trouble,” she told Sun Herald in 1988.