In New York city during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s (maybe even now?) competition among newspaper columnists was so intense scribes like Walter Winchell, Ed Sullivan, Earl Wilson and even one of my literary heroes, Will Rogers, employed “bird-dogs.” These were people with their thumb on the pulse of the street who earned extra money by feeding these writers leads on story ideas.
Columnists at the Daily Press aren’t exactly under that same level of stress. That said, I do have a “volunteer” bird-dog, albeit of the senior citizen variety. Jerry Rosenblum, 95, who lives at the Silvercrest on 5th Street in Santa Monica has brought me numerous stories, including those about his amateur singing career. The most recent was about the highly successful Senior Talent Shows at the Miles Playhouse, which he helped organize and performed in.
Through Jerry I was put in touch with his close friend, Anthony Bvlgari, 15. The two buddies are 80 years apart in age, which is just charming, as in only in Santa Monica!
An “old soul,” Anthony, is theatrically-gifted. Actually, he reminds me of a vaudeville performer, in that he does everything. Anthony sings pop to opera; dances tango to tap; plays the violin, piano, upright bass, ukulele, and the drums. In his “spare time,” Anthony also makes movies to which he adds the music and graphics. (If only he wasn’t so lazy.)
Whereas Jerry brought me Anthony, the young Mr. Bvlgari brought my attention to his good friend, Jacqueline Stallone. She’s the remarkable 95-year-old, long-time Santa Monica resident mother of Sylvester Stallone, aka John Rambo and Rocky Balboa, among other movie characters he has made iconic. (“Yo, Adrienne!”)
Jackie’s many activities, she takes Pilates and tap dancing lessons. (She was originally taught by Gene Kelly.) In fact, Jackie and Anthony’s friendship began at tap dance lessons.
As for Jackie and her son, it’s obvious that Sylvester’s zest for life and sense of humor comes from his mom. In honor of her son’s recent 71st birthday, Jackie posted some intimate memories on Instagram. (It’s impressive to me she seems to navigate social media with ease.)
If Anthony is an old soul, Jackie may be a young soul. What she shared in her post has been a secret for these past 71 years and is a Daily Press exclusive. (Unless TMZ picks it up first.)
Jackie reminisces about Sylvester’s birth. “Sylvester was born in a Charity Ward in NYC near Hell’s Kitchen ( where all Italian Immigrants lived ) on July 6th 1946 at 7 p.m. The bill was $35 and I never paid it. They kept asking me, ‘Why didn’t I pay it?’ Wait until you hear my answer, ‘He didn’t look like me’”. (Drum roll please!)
“Twenty-seven years later when he made “Rocky,” Sylvester went back to that hospital to pay the bill, But they wouldn’t give it to him because they already framed it on the wall!.”
Jackie then adds some inside info. “Sylvester was not always his real name . I originally named him Tyrone Stallone because I really liked the actor Tyrone Power but when the birth certificate arrived his father had changed it behind my back to Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone.”
She continues, “When he was born, there were about 20 ladies there, all black, and they all chipped in to buy new baby clothes so I could take him home. I was there 10 days. Fortunately, I was visited often by my dear sister, Renee, an airlines hostess and part- time nurse. She was a bit shocked to see me smoking in my hospital bed! (I don’t smoke anymore.”)
“When I took little Sylvester home I had no crib so I just took the drawer out of my dresser, put a pillow on it and that was his bead for the next 6 months. Hell’s Kitchen rent was $15 a month then and I could barely pay it so Sylvester had to sleep in the drawer but he did just fine. And the rest is history!”
“No one else knows this story until now so there you go. For 50 years I have been trying to reach those women at the Charity Ward and thank them all personally,” she said. “Please let me know any information you may have.” (Aunt Renee notes that the hospital was named Lying-In Hospital, located at 68th Street and York Avenue.)
Jackie said, “All I can say is if I’m lucky enough to live to 95, I hope that I have one-half of the joie de vivre that Jackie has. Actually, I don’t have it now and I don’t imagine it’s the kind of thing that grows with age. But, who knows, maybe Jackie will be my inspiration? (I also hope Sylvester likes this column. As I recall Rambo had quite a temper.)”
If you have any information, please “direct message” Jackie at Instagram @Official Jackie Stallone. In addition, Jackie also has written a book “Star Power: An Astrological Guide to Super Success. It’s available on Amazon or click here: http://amzn.to/2rWTVJO. Jack and his lack of joie de vivre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org