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‘I like to surprise people,’ says Stallone’s brother

by Ace Damon
'I like to surprise people,' says Stallone's brother

Philadelphia suburb at night. Tough guy Rocky Balboa, in his leather jacket, boxer cap and relaxed steps, walks down the empty street. Stop at a pet store, shows tenderness while playing with a puppy in the window. He then greets a group of unemployed people around a campfire.

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Then he continues to the rhythm of his life as an unknown fighter, while playing and picking up a ball, with his black left eye after hitting the practice, walking through the neighborhood towards his most immediate destination, his home. Like who one day wants to win but doesn’t know how.

The scene would be far from the same if the background track were not the soft and dancing Take You Back, which gave rhythm to the performance of protagonist Sylvester Stallone in the consecrated Rocky, 1976, and is sung by his younger brother, Frank, who also appears, as one of the unemployed.

Even in a fictional film, the scene portrays a reality for singer and actor Frank Stallone. Each performance has become, over time, a challenge for him to show that his work is independent of the stardom of his most famous brother.

One of the things Frank, close to turning 70, says he likes to do is get on stage and admire people who only know his brother Sylvester, four years his senior.

“That’s why I always want to perform shows. When people go, they don’t know what to expect and they’re surprised to see Frank’s performance. I like to surprise people,” he tells R7.

The life of the younger brother of the star of Rocky and Rambo, among others, was the subject of the documentary Stallone: Frank, That is (Stallone: Frank, That’s It), which just won the 20th edition of the Beverly Hills Film Festival, whose president is producer Frederico Lapenda. The festival, despite having the delivery event cancelled because of the current pandemic, did not fail to announce the winners in this second half of June.

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The award for Best Actor at the festival went to William Baldwin in the film Talk, directed by Romuald Boulanger. The Best Actress went to Olivia Dejonge in the film Josie and Jack.

The Best Foreign Language Film went to Punch It, directed by Perrier Olivier, and the so-called Golden Palm Award was awarded by Opeka directed by Cam Cowan. The Best Documentary short film was for rocky’s 40th anniversary, narrated by Sylvester Stallone and directed by Texan Derek Johnson.

Own career

The documentary about Frank’s life depicts his journey and presents what the artist has always sought to show: Frank Stallone is not just his brother’s shadow. On the contrary, he has 77 films as an actor, besides having composed and played more than 200 songs, with some awards.

“The documentary project took about two and a half years, I participated in in nominating and locating people to be interviewed, but I wanted an opinion without influence. I didn’t participate at the time people were interviewed, I didn’t want to appear in the production so I wouldn’t influence,” he says.

From a young age, Frank went in search of his musical vocation, having, after participating in several bands, became a professional musician at the age of 15 in 1965. Ten years later, he signed with RCA Records and recorded his first album. His first trail was actually in Rocky.

“I had no problems (working with my brother), I tried to separate things. And I did the job with ease, I knew I was doing what I liked and so I didn’t feel difficulties,” he says.

For him, the award at the Beverly Hills festival is a recognition of his work. The documentary’s very name, Stallone: Frank, That is, is a way of saying that he considers to have reason to be proud of his last name.

“It is a great pleasure to win this award at this time. Living about 1 mile (1.6 km) from Beverly Hills, it’s like winning an award in your city. Because of the covid-19, other festivals were totally cancelled and I was very happy and grateful for this award. Not being able to go to any event to receive the award and find friends is frustrating, but that’s the way things are now,” he says.

The culmination of his career, having also participated in some films of the series Rocky and Rambo, as an actor and as a singer, was the interpretation of the hit Far From Over, the film The Saturday Embalos Continue, with John Travolta, in 1983.

The song, also composed by him, was nominated for a Grammy and Golden Globe Awards in 1984 and was among the most heard of the 1980s.

“That song changed my life. I’ve always made music, my whole life is playing. I feel more like a singer than an actor. And the lyrics of this success are autobiographical: ‘I’m bad, but I’m far from finished… I’m turning it around.’ When I touch it or hear it, even today, I see the recognition at that time, the admired feature of people, is very pleasurable. It’s a song that marked a generation, like saturday night fever, Rocky. Like Eye of the Tiger, it’s one of the great songs in the history of cinema,” he notes.

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Having started his career primarily as a jazz singer, attracting the attention of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, he believes his transition to pop was natural.

“I was a fan of Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Nat King Cole. I liked all kinds of music. And I’ve always sung a lot of styles, too. But from the performance on rocky’s tracks and especially with Far From Over, a lot has changed. People in a way prejudged me before they knew my work,” he adds.

The pleasure of surprising people, however, remains a daily quest. Generations change, and to keep attracting attention, you have to fight. As did Rocky, a Stallone at his root. The work, for Frank, is independent of fame. But recognition is always good.

Stallone teaches to believe in himself: “You have no problem being ambitious”

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