Sylvester Stallone has revealed his father once attacked him during a polo match in a shock clip from new documentary Sly.
The acting icon, 77, said he inherited a ‘certain kind of ferocity’ from his father Frank Sr., who died in 2011 – and said the shock assault had left him with trauma and ‘never wanting to see a horse again.’
‘I was raised by a very physical father, you know?’ he said in his documentary. ‘So I was no stranger to serious pain, and I think it just became, I’m not gonna break. No matter what he did, you know? I’m just not gonna break.’
The Rambo star and his brother Frank Jr. offered an unfiltered view of the corporal punishment they were subjected to by both their parents.
Sly – who was nationally ranked in polo at age 13 – recounted one incident when he was playing the sport around that age when his father began ‘screaming from the stands’ that he was riding the horse wrong.
Shocking: Sylvester Stallone has revealed his father once attacked him during a polo match in a shock clip from new documentary Sly (pictured playing polo in 1989)
‘I was no danger to serious pain’: ‘I was raised by a very physical father, you know?’ he said in his new Netflix documentary Sly; Frank Sr. is pictured in 1979
‘And finally I pulled the horse up to get ready for another throw, and he comes out of the stands, grabs me by the throat, throws me on the ground, takes the horse and walks off the field,’ the screen star remembered. ‘And I laid there and I went: “I never wanna see a horse again in my whole life.”‘
Sly was born in 1946 at New York City charity ward to Frank Sr. and Jackie Stallone, a working class couple locked in a bitterly fractious marriage.
Jackie, who later achieved cult fame as an astrologer, was at that time employed as a cigarette girl and was her family’s principal breadwinner.
Meanwhile Frank Sr. was in the grip of professional frustration as a barber attempting to work his way up the rungs to the higher-earning position of cosmetologist.
‘Our father was also very self-conscious ‘cause I don’t think he was educated,’ explained Frank Jr. ‘Any kind of slight or insult would like, he’d go off.’
He added that Jackie, who died in 2020 at the age of 98, ‘was pretty bad too. She was pretty handy with the old hairbrush and the shower brush, and she had these long nails that would never break. She’d go: “Come here, you.”‘
Sly took a gentler tone apropos his mother, describing her as ‘quite eccentric, colorful, very, very, very outspoken and unpredictable.’
The legendary action star then candidly acknowledged: ‘I know I’ve got a certain kind of ferocity from my father, no question.’
‘Our mother and father, it was like clockwork. I’d be up in bed and you’d just hear them screaming and yelling,’ said Frank Jr. ‘And I was petrified, ‘cause I mean, I could just feel the reverberation.’
Looking back: ‘I was raised by a very physical father, you know?’ he said in his documentary. ‘So I was no stranger to serious pain, and I think it just became, I’m not gonna break. No matter what he did, you know? I’m just not gonna break’
Quartet: The Rambo star and his brother Frank Jr. offered an unfiltered view of the corporal punishment they were subjected to by their parents Frank Sr. and Jackie; all four are pictured
Jackie and Frank Sr. were so hopelessly caught up in their grueling work lives and their crumbling marriage that their children fell to lower priority status.
‘The majority of the time, I was living in a boarding house,’ said Sly, describing his early childhood years in New York. ‘Basically 12 months a year, never went home, ‘cause they just didn’t have time. They were both working.’
And people say: “Oh, you feel deprived and you weren’t nurtured.” I thought, yeah, that’s true, and maybe the nurturing comes from the respect and love of strangers. To feel embraced and loved by an audience, it’s insatiable.’
In spite of a staggeringly successful performing career that has lasted decades, Sly said ruefully: ‘I wish I could get over it…but you can’t.’
When Sly was five years old, the family moved to Maryland, where Frank Sr. felt he would have more professional opportunities than in New York.
Family history: Sly was born in 1946 at New York City charity ward to Frank Sr. and Jackie Stallone, a working class couple locked in a bitterly fractious marriage
However the marriage was by then on the verge of collapse, and not long after the move to Maryland, Jackie walked out on her husband.
After a rancorous divorce, it was decided that Frank Jr. would live with his mother in Philadelphia and Sly would remain in the Maryland countryside with his father.
Complete country and crickets, pretty isolated, and there were only horses,’ said Sly. ‘I’ve been…for some reason had an affinity with horses since I was five or six years old. Not good horses, just horses my father would buy – $20, $25.’
Frank Jr., according to Sly, ‘didn’t have much money, but somehow he got involved with a polo team, and everyone in polo had beautiful horses, great trailers, ranches. We had a dump. The horses, most of ‘em had medical problems. Some of ‘em, if you pulled ‘em up too quickly, they’d go blind.’
Sly, undeterred, took up polo ‘but sandlot kind of polo, like low-level. But I learned. Anyway, I started getting better and better and better, and then when I was 13 I was starting to get ranked. I’m gonna get nationally ranked.’
Seeing his son’s success, Frank Jr. ‘wasn’t liking that so much’ – and so in the middle of one polo match came the throat-grabbing incident.