Jacqueline “Jackie” Stallone, 98, the colorful, garrulous mother of actor Sylvester Stallone and his singer brother, Frank Stallone, died Monday.
In a Facebook post Monday night, Frank Stallone wrote that his mother had died in her sleep, “as she had wished.”
Ms. Stallone, who was born Nov. 29, 1921, in Washington, D.C., and lived in Philadelphia for some years following her divorce from her first husband, Frank Stallone Sr., was also the mother of a daughter Toni D’Alto, from her second marriage. Ms. D’Alto died in 2012.
Described by the Hollywood Reporter as a “larger-than-life character,” she became famous for more than being the mother of the star of Rocky. Besides writing several books on astrology and founding a psychic hotline, she’d appeared in the 1980s show GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, whose fictionalized history became the basis for the Netflix series GLOW. At the time of her death, her Instagram account had nearly 27,000 followers with whom she shared pictures of her sons, her dogs, and her day-to-day life.
“She was a remarkable woman working out everyday full of spunk and fearless," Frank Stallone wrote of her.
Indeed, as recently as April, she had posted a workout picture on Instagram, sporting a Rambo-like headband. She reported of life in quarantine that she was “staying fit” and “studying the accordion daily,” adding, “I think I know as much as my teacher does.”
Reports vary on when exactly Ms. Stallone moved to Philadelphia with her two sons, but it appears to have been sometime in the mid-1950s. The family first lived in Center City, in Rittenhouse Square and later on the Parkway, and Sylvester Stallone attended the now-closed Academy of Notre Dame de Namur Catholic school.
They moved to Northeast Philadelphia, where the future Rocky star for a time attended Abraham Lincoln High School. Ms. Stallone and her second husband, Anthony Filiti, sold their house there in 1971.
In a 1990 interview with Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, she recalled that Sylvester, who in those days went by “Mike” to avoid teasing, was “never well-behaved.”
The future star “was born with multiple birth defects, and because his face was so distorted … he realized at a very young age, when other kids looked at him, that he was different.”
To win acceptance with classmates, he became “sort of a buffoon,” she said, “out of loneliness and despair.” After reportedly being expelled from a number of schools, he would eventually graduate from the residential Devereux Manor High School in Berwyn.
His mother remained his advocate all her life. In 1990, after apparently misunderstanding a report she’d seen about moving the Rocky statue from the exterior of the Art Museum, she called a news conference, telling reporters she’d flown from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to protest what she thought was its banishment from the city altogether.
Arriving in a black limousine, she demanded that the statue remain where the makers of Rocky V had placed it, The Inquirer’s Daniel Rubin reported at the time. She said that when she saw the coffin-like box hauling away the statue on the news, “I thought my kid had died.”
When it was eventually explained to her that the statue was to be moved to the Spectrum, she switched her attention to her other son, Rubin wrote:
"Out came the record album of No. 2 son, Frank. It turns out he was appearing at Trump Castle Casino Resort in Atlantic City last night so she was in the area anyway, traveling with a casino publicist and two executives from Jacqueline Stallone Enterprises in a casino-hired limo. She also had a copy of her new book on astrology on hand. Her entourage started passing out pictures and promotional material as the news teams started dissolving. She was undaunted, leading the remaining reporters on a short history of her family’s local affairs.
" ‘I left this city on a Trailways with my kids and I arrive back by limo,’ she said. She talked about the 17 times that Sylvester was asked to leave schools, the many occasions that landlords wanted the rambunctious Stallone youngsters to move somewhere else and what made her return this afternoon to fight for her son. ‘I came to be like a mother — to start screaming like I did all my life.’ "
Besides her sons, she is survived by her third husband, Stephen Levine, and several grandchildren.