When Sylvester Stallone’s mom, Jackie, gave birth to the actor, a life-changing accident at the time led to his distinctive look.

Sylvester Stallone is known for his deep baritone voice and distinctive facial features, notably his lip droop.

As a child, the actor was bullied for his appearance and slurred speech, but the Rocky actor didn’t allow them to hinder his career as an entertainer. In fact, he proved his haters wrong by becoming one of the highest-paid stars of the 1980s.

But how did he end up with his trademark features? Here’s what we know about it ahead of his new family series on Paramount Plus, The Family Stallone.

"Daylight" Hollywood Premiere
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Jackie Stallone’s labor concluded with a life-changing accident

Sylvester Stallone was born to Jackie Stallone (nee Labofish) on July 6, 1946, in Manhattan, New York. His father was Francesco “Frank” Stallone Jr, an Italian-American hairdresser and writer. He cameoed in Rocky as the timekeeper.

Complications during Sylvester’s birth led to the use of forceps, which are metal tong-like tools to assist baby delivery. Misuse of the instruments led to a severed nerve, causing paralysis of the lower left side of his face, including part of his tongue, chin, and lip.

The accident resulted in a drooping lip and slurred speech. He was nicknamed Sylvia by bullies, who mocked his brain as “dormant”, Mental Floss reports.

Sylvester turned to acting and bodybuilding as an outlet, which became the steps to a glittering career.

Sylvester Stallone In Sweats In 'Rocky'
Photo by Fotos International/Courtesy of Getty Images

Who is Sylvester Stallone’s mom, Jackie?

Born on November 29, 1921, as Jacqueline Frances Labofish, Jackie was best known as an astrologer, dancer, and wrestling promoter. Aside from Sylvester, she had a son called Frank and a daughter called Toni Ann. The latter was an actress who she shared with her second husband, Anthony Filiti. Toni passed away in 2012 after a fight with lung cancer.

As a child, Jackie’s family lived with bodybuilder Charles Atlas, who introduced her to the world of sports. She claimed to have been the first woman to have a daily exercise TV show on exercise and weight lifting in her native Washington, DC. She also opened a female-only gym called Barbella’s – Sylvester definitely inherited his Rocky stamina from his mother.

Her passion for fitness never faded. In 2014, she was photographed swinging on gymnastics rings at her CrossFit gym with a face full of makeup – she was 92 years old. If Jackie can hit the gym, so can you.

MGM Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios present the World Premiere of 'Rocky Balboa'
Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for MGM

During her youth, she worked a variety of jobs, from hairdresser to nightclub chorus girl, before gaining notice as an astrologer. She wrote Starpower: An Astrological Guide To Super Success in 1989 and at the time of her death, obituaries dubbed her as a celebrity astrologer thanks to her TV psychic hotline.

Details on her cause of death and funeral were never publicized, but Sylvester’s younger brother, Frank, commented on her colorful character upon her passing. His September 2020 Facebook post wrote:

“She was a remarkable woman, working out every day, full of spunk and fearless. She died in her sleep as she had wished. It was hard not to like her, she was a very eccentric and flamboyant person.

She lived through prohibition, the Depression, and World War II. I would talk to her for hours about the 20s 30s and 40s. It was a history lesson. Her mind was as sharp as a razor till the day she died.” She was 98 years old.

As a TV star, Mam Stallone appeared in the 1980s wrestling program, G.L.O.W: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, which inspired the 2017 Netflix comedy series, GLOW. Jackie also made a splash as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother UK alongside her former daughter-in-law, Brigitte Nielsen.

Sadly, she was voted out after just four days.

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