Fact: The famous Sylvester Stallone face and look is not a result of a Bell’s Palsy disease most people have seemed to indicate.
Sylvester Stallone is an American actor and filmmaker who won his first critically acclaimed role as an actor for his part as Stanley Rosiello, The Lords of Flatbush (1974). This role along with gradual work provided him the resources to write the screenplay for one of the biggest series in history, Rocky (1976- ), which would introduce the world to his brother Frank Stallone Jr., who wrote the intro Rocky song Take You Back. Frank Stallone Jr., the younger brother of Sylvester, is a highly respected and brilliant musician.
In 1982, years after the success of Rocky, Sylvester Stallone won the role of John Rambo, a PTSD-plagued soldier, in First Blood. This spun another series of successful sequels into 2019, including the recent action film the Expendables.
Around 2012, articles surfaced stating that Sylvester Stallone face was a result of Bell’s Palsy, a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis on one side of the face, amongst other side effects like loss of taste, headache, drooping face, dry eye, and dry mouth.
Bell’s Palsy disease, also referred to as acute peripheral facial palsy, doesn’t have a known cause. This condition can occur at any age and research seems to indicate that it results from swelling or the inflammation of the nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face. This condition is simply temporary and lasts at its longest, six months.
Unfortunately, from the accounts of Sylvester Stallone himself, this simply is just not true. Sylvester Stallone does not suffer from Bell’s Palsy disease. He documents this in John Herzfeld’s behind-the-scenes piece, The Making of Rocky vs. Drago: Keep Punching (2021), which came out on Amazon Prime and Youtube mid-2022 (starting at min 29:30).
In this behind-the-scenes piece by John Herzfeld, there is a short clip that speaks to Sylvester Stallone’s personal life story. Stallone and Herzfeld talk about Stallone’s upbringing and his eventual introduction into drama and the stage. This segment exploits Stallone’s unique features. These were physical features speculated on, like Bell’s Palsy disease, but no one truly ever knew, nor was it anyone’s place (Personally, I had always been curious).
In the clip, Stallone reveals that he was born in a charity ward in Manhattan, New York, because his family didn’t have a lot of money. Stallone implies that because of the circumstances of his birth (location and what could be afforded), the surgeons (for potentially numerous reasons) clearly did something wrong and killed the nerve around his mouth. Allegedly, physicians delivering Stallone had to use forceps which in process severed a nerve causing paralysis to parts of his tongue and chin. As a result, he suffered a lot of bullying as a child and was told that his brain was “dormant”. This is one of the reasons that led to Stallone to body build.
When speaking with the Chicago Tribune, Stallone stated that growing up with facial paralysis made him feel like
Mr. Potato Head with all the parts in the wrong place.
He explains that this is the reason behind his very very deep voice. Due to the nature of Sylvester Stallone face and nerve, he slurs because the left portion of his tongue doesn’t form vowels. You can hear it especially in “THs” words. As a theatre major, Stallone worked on his speech impediment trying to strength or improve his pronunciation. In the end, he was just not able to fully get through it.
It turned out to be a blessing.
While it worked out for Stallone in the end, a disruption like that could dramatically change the outcome for actors, pushing them out of many roles. In this case, it made him unique. So, Bell’s Palsy disease is a difficult condition for those that face the temporary issue, but ultimately, it fixes itself with time unlike. With Sylvester Stallone facial paralysis, this is not the case.
Barkhoudarian, G. (2022, June 3). What is Bell’s Palsy? 7 questions answered. Pacific Neuroscience Institute. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org/blog/facial-pain/7-questions-about-bells-palsy/
Chidiebube. (2021, July 26). Sylvester Stallone Height Revealed: How Tall is The American Actor? Heightline.com. https://heightline.com/sylvester-stallones-height-revealed-just-how-tall-is-the-american-actor/
Wikipedia Contributors. (2019, April 3). Sylvester Stallone. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvester_Stallone
Mayo Clinic. (2018). Bell’s palsy – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bells-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370028
The Making of ROCKY VS. DRAGO by Sylvester Stallone. (n.d.). Www.youtube.com. Retrieved January 17, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suhqtn_brBs&t=303s
The Real Reason Behind Sylvester Stallone’s Distinctive Facial Features. DoYouRemember? Published July 27, 2021. Accessed January 17, 2023. https://doyouremember.com/121362/sylvester-stallone-facial-features#:~:text=However%20many%20fans%20are%20unaware%20that%20Stallone%E2%80%99s%20facial