Though it is common knowledge that he was nominated as Best Actor, Sylvester Stallone also received an Oscar nomination for writing this film.
Rocky’s dog “Butkus” is actually Sylvester Stallone’s family dog of the same name. He also appeared in Rocky II.
It was advertised before filming that all spectators who would fill in for ringside audience members at the Los Angeles Sports Arena would be treated to a free chicken dinner and could watch the shooting of the Creed/Balboa fight. Four thousand people showed up at suppertime.
The lead singer in the neighborhood band is played by Frank Stallone, Sly’s younger brother. He’s also the fellow who steps out of the shadows when Rocky tells him, “Get a job, you bum!”
The set dressing for Rocky’s apartment includes a poster of the Beatles famous “Renaissance” artwork.
Burt Young did his homework for Paulie’s drunk scene – he studied real drunks to capture their movements and foggy thought processing.
The original, tattered gray sweatshirt worn by Stallone during his famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still in existence. The old relic is currently in Sly’s personal collection. He has promised it to the American History/Pop Culture section of the Smithsonian but has yet to submit it to the museum. [Fact Courtesy: Ada Barber]
Stallone insisted that the scene where he admits his fears and doubts to Adrian the night before the fight be filmed, even though production was running far behind and producers wanted to skip it. He had one take for that scene, and was so nervous about flubbing the only scene he thought was important that he got himself drunk to do it.
Adrian’s hesitation to kiss Rocky in his apartment after their date together wasn’t originally scripted that way; Talia Shire was suffering from the flu during filming, and she was afraid of getting Sylvester Stallone sick. What resulted, ironically, was a better acted scene than was originally anticipated. Sly caught Talia’s case of the flu, then went on to shoot Rocky’s training scenes in Mickey’s Gym with a fever.
Along with Sylvester Stallone and Burt Young, Tony Burton, the actor who portrays Apollo and Rocky’s trainer “Duke”, is the only other actor who has appeared in all six films. Duke finally becomes Rocky’s trainer in 2006’s Rocky Balboa.
The gold and maroon colored robe that Rocky wears before entering the ring wasn’t intended to be amusingly oversized. Stallone ordered a normal one from the wardrobe department but was issued with robe that, as he says, “was built for Godzilla.” They turned the problem around and were able to use it as a comedic moment before the drama of the big fight.
Linda Kilian, formerly a designer with Gigette/Saybury in New York City, designed the pink robe that Talia Shire wears in the scene where she is seen unwrapping the gauze from Stallone’s hands. It is believed that this robe was a piece from Shire’s personal wardrobe, as were the majority of Adrian’s ensembles. The pet shop where Adrian works was, and still is, a real pet shop in Philadelphia. Check out our Location Guide to get its address.
The man who rings the bell during the Creed/Balboa fight is Sylvester Stallone’s father, Frank.
The black-and-white photographs stuck under Rocky’s mirror are Stallone’s own personal photos – including the portrait of his parents. Most of these pictures can be seen in his “Rocky Scrapbook”.
A different ending was originally filmed for this movie (check the photo gallery to catch a glimpse of this!). In the original ending, Rocky walked out of the ring and met Adrian in the tunnel to the stadium. They walked down the tunnel, hand in hand, and the last shot was from behind of Rocky and Adrian walking down the tunnel (this image was later used as the poster shot). Test audiences said the end was too depressing and it was re-shot with Adrian’s now classic run to the ring while Rocky screams her name.