The 1976 Oscar winning film Rocky launched its unknown leading man and screenwriter, Sylvester Stallone, to super stardom.
The Cinderella story of a struggling young boxer resonated with movie-goers from all walks of life. This big break marked the climax of Stallone’s own rags-to-riches story, one that saw him sink so far into the depths of poverty that he once sold his beloved dog, Butkus, for $40.
Before you judge Mr. Stallone too harshly, you’ll be glad to know that he paid “through the muzzle” to get his best pal back! This week, in a lovely Throw Back Thursday (#TBT) Instagram tribute to his furry costar, the 70-year-old actor wrote, in part:
“…Years later when things got even worse I had to sell him for $40 in front of a 7-Eleven store, because I couldn’t afford food, then like a modern day miracle, the screenplay for Rocky sold, and I could buy him back, but the new owner knew I was desperate, and charged me $15,000 … He was worth every penny!”
The sentimental stroll down memory lane included two old photos of Stallone and Butkus – named for Chicago Bears linebacker, Dick Butkus. The first image shows Stallone embracing the 140-pound Bullmastiff and describes their lean early years together before Sly hit the Hollywood jackpot.
I absolutely love pictures like this. When I was 26, totally broke, going nowhere VERY fast, owned two pair of pants that barely fit, shoes that had holes in them and dreams of being successful were as far away as the sun… But I had my dog, BUTKUS, my best friend, my confidant, Who always laughed at my jokes, and put up with my moods, and was the one living thing that loved me for who I was! #man’s best friend#BullMastiff #Loyalty #NewYorkCity#AmericanDreams
The second photo shows Butkus as a tiny pup on his master’s lap, and tells the story of his sale and eventual buyback 6 months later. Stallone says that at that time, he and Butkus were “living in a flophouse above a subway stop” in an apartment with “hot and cold running roaches.”
1971… Since we’re on the subject of ” man’s best friend” this is myself and Butkus as a puppy , we were both , thin , hungry and living in a flophouse above a subway stop, I used to say this apartment had ” … Hot and cold running roaches” anyway there was not much to do except spend time with each other and that’s where I started to learn the craft of screenwriting. Since I never went out, I relied on his companionship , And actually it was his idea to write Rocky, but don’t tell anyone…. Years later when things got even worse I had to sell him for $40 in front of a 7-Eleven store,because I couldn’t afford food, then like A modern day miracle, the screenplay for Rocky sold, and I could buy and buy him back, but the new owner knew I was desperate, and charged me $15,000 … He was worth every penny! #New York City #HellsKitchen #BullMastiff #It’sADogsWorld. #MoreToCome#inspiration #ThunderingYourHeart #GoingThedistance
Butkus joined the Stallone family in 1969 as a 6-week-old pup and passed away in 1981. After all these years, Stallone says Butkus’ image is still the screensaver on his computer. As many of us can relate to, the dog provided a bright spark in the darkness of Stallone’s life throughout a difficult time. Per his Instagram post,
“[Butkus] was the one living thing that loved me for who I was!”
H/T to ET Online