It’s been 40 years since Sylvester Stallone first climbed into the ring and onto the silver screen as Rocky Balboa, the down-on-his-luck boxer with a lot of heart.
Since the iconic rag-to-riches story was released on Nov. 21, 1976, it has spawned six sequels (some great, some…well, not so great) and countless posed photos at the top of Rocky Steps, the 72 steps that Stallone famously sprinted up during his training.
On this 40th anniversary, we give you 10 facts about the original “Rocky” that started the phenomenon.
1. Stallone’s film was shot in 28 days on a budget just over $1 million. Producers fought with Stallone over shooting exteriors in Philly; they wanted to keep costs low and shoot entirely in Los Angeles, because they hadpersonally guaranteed to cover any costs over the $1 million budget.
2. Shooting in Philly was on a tight budget. No artificial lighting was used for exterior shots, and actors had no trailers or catering. Only one on-set meal was served for breakfast, lunch and dinner: pizza.
3. Rocky’s real name is actually Robert, but the nickname is used to honor real-life boxer Rocky Marciano.
4. Stallone downed raw eggs before his training montage. According to the actor, that was an easy feat. He’d done it plenty of times when he was living in a New York City apartment with no stove.
5. The famous training montage —nearly 3 minutes of footage —was originally around 90 seconds. The scenes were built around a piece of music, but producers had more footage than music, so composerBill Contihad to keep adding to the score.
6. Stallone’s training included punching frozen slabs of meat. While it was meant to be a metaphor for how fighters see their opponents, Stallone also injured one of his knuckles after eight hours of training, when the cold meat penetrated his bandages. He cracked a knuckle and drove it back into his hand.
7. Susan Sarandon auditioned for the role of AdrianPennino, but she was considered too pretty for the part. Talia Shire, sister of Francis Ford Coppola, was cast instead.
8.Rocky’s Christmas present pup, a tan Bullmastiff named Butkus that Adrien gave him, was Stallone’s family dog.
9. Before writing his script for the original movie, Stallone was living on a shoestring in New York, and sold Butkus for $50. Once he sold the script, Stallone bought backhis pup —and had to pay $1,500 for it.
10. Rocky’s Kensington homeis a real house, with very little resembling any aspects of Hollywood these days. Producers bought the rights to use the exterior and living room of1818 Tusculum Street for just $50. Now, when die-hards visit the block with cameras in hand, kids pop their heads out the windows, chanting, “Rocky! Rocky!”