The Rocky franchise follows the journey of aspiring boxer Rocky Balboa as he rises to fame and becomes a world-class ringster.
Legendary actor Sylvester Stallone takes on the role of Rocky for six consecutive movies, with many other great film stars appearing in the iconic films along the way.
From Rocky in 1976 right through to the spin-off movie Creed in 2015, it’s one of the most successful film series ever. With Creed II set to come out in 2017, it doesn’t look like there’s any stopping Rocky yet.
For now, let’s take a look back at the cast of the Rocky franchise over the years – where are they now?
1. The ‘Rocky’ Franchise
With countless talented actors making the Rocky movies so great, it’s amazing to see what they’ve gone on to do since starring in the popular film series…
2. Sylvester Stallone – Rocky Balboa
Sylvester Stallone is definitely the perfect fit for the role of Rocky (after all, he did write the movies). He’s done himself and all his fans proud for the six Rocky films, followed by Creed. His transformation from a debt-collector to a world champion boxer completely embodies the American Dream. Besides Rocky, Stallone has written and starred in the Rambo franchise and his acting career is still going strong.
3. Burt Young – Paulie Pennino
Burt Young, who took on the role of Paulie Pennino, actually won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Rocky’s brother-in-law. Since then, he has gone on to play similar characters in the likes of Chinatown, Once Upon A Time in America and The Sopranos. These days, the 76-year old can be seen in the web series, Horace And Pete.
4. Carl Weathers – Apollo Creed
The movies wouldn’t be the same without talented actor Carl Weathers. After starring as Rocky’s opponent in the first three Rocky movies, he went on to appear in successful films like Predator, Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky. These days, he takes the lead role on series Chicago Justice.
5. Joe Spinell – Tony Gazzo
Tony Gazzo, the Mafia man of the movie, employed Rocky way before he made it big. Actor Joe Spinell also played Will Cicci in The Godfather films. After a few years of Rocky II being release, Spinell unfortunately passed away in 1989.
6. Mr. T – Clubber Lang
The A Team star played the role of boxing contender Clubber Lang in the third Rocky instalment. We haven’t seen much of Mr. T over the last few years, with his most recent TV appearance being in his own DIY program titled I Pity The Tool.
7. Dolph Lundgren – Ivan Drego
Back in 1985, Dolph landed his breakthrough role in the fourth Rocky film playing the standout character of Ivan Drago who defeats Apollo. The role boosted his career and he’s since starred in countless action movies including Masters of the Universe and The Punisher, as well as The Expendables series.
8. Milo Ventimiglia – Robert Balboa Jr.
You may know him as Jess Marino in Gilmore Girls, but Milo played Rocky’s son in Rocky VI. These days, the former Rocky Balboa Jr. can be seen on series Chosen and The Whispers. Fans are hoping he’ll join the Gilmore Girls reprisal on Netflix.
9. Sico – Paulie’s Robot
Remember Sico the robot in Rocky IV? Rocky gives it to Paulie as a birthday present. In the ’80s, these sorts of robots were created to help kids who have autism which Stallone’s son Seargeoh suffers from.
10. Burgess Meredith – Mickey Goldmill
Meredith played the impressive role of boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill. He was previously known for The Twilight Zone and his role as the penguin on the ’60s TV version of Batman. Sadly, the much-loved star passed away in 1997 at the age of 89.
11. Tony Burton – Apollo’s Trainer
Burton is best known for his role as Apollo’s trainer Tony ‘Duke’ Evers in the Rocky series. He is one of the few actors who has actually starred in the whole Rocky franchise. Tony had his own boxing career before the films and underwent further training to make the most of his role. Sadly, the legendary actor died this year from pneumonia.
12. Butkus Stallone – Rocky’s Dog
Sylvester cast his own dog Butkus Stallone in the film series, with him appearing in the first two movies. Butkus was named after the powerful football player Dick Butkus after he supposedly ate his blanket when he was a puppy.
13. Talia Shire – Adrian Balboa
Talia first found fame in The Godfather franchise. She played Rocky’s girlfriend and eventual wife in this film series, and was even nominated for Best Actress for her role. Her most recent work was in Dreamland as Victoria.
14. The Famous Rocky Steps & Statue
The famous ‘Rocky steps’, that lead up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, appeared in four of the Rocky films. Before the third film was released, Stallone had a 10-ft tall statue of Rocky built at the top of the steps for filming, and it now lies at the bottom.
15. Jodi Letizia – Marie
Jodi Letizia played a young troublesome girl who Rocky ends up walking home one night in the first Rocky instalment. Since then, the actress has made small appearances in shows such as Miami Vice and Saturday Night Live.
16. Lloyd Kaufman – A Drunk
You may remember Lloyd Kaufman’s small role in the first Rocky film as a drunk. His minor appearance helped him get funds for his independent film company Troma Entertainment which was founded in 1974. These days he’s still directing and producing low-budget films as well as doing some acting.
17. Joe Frazier As Himself
The former Olympic and world champion Joe Frazier played himself in the first Rocky film. The professional boxer had a lengthy career, with him going on to train his children Marvis Frazier and Jackie Frazier-Lyde in the sport too. Joe’s known for being rivals with the legendary Muhammad Ali. He’s still training youngsters today in Philadelphia.
18. Frank Stallone – A Street Corner Singer
Slyester’s younger brother Frank appeared in the first film as a street singer. Aside from acting, Frank has been a singer for several years with his song ‘Far From Over’ for movie Staying Alive getting nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.
19. John G. Avildsen – The Director
Before he teamed up with Stallone for Rocky, John G. Avildsen had only worked on low-budget films. He definitely hit the big time when he directed this film, earning ten Academy Award nominations with Best Director being won by Avildsen in 1976. He’s also known for directing The Karate Kid and has an upcoming documentary about his life being released in 2017.
20. Rocky II
Even though Rocky didn’t beat his opponent Apollo Creed in the first instalment of the films, he definitely wasn’t going to let himself be defeated. Rocky II sees the aspiring boxer take on his rival for the second time for a very intense rematch. He also proposed to Adrian in the second film!
21. Paul McCrane – A Young Patient
When the actor was just 17-years old he had a minor role in Rocky II as a young patient who asks for Rocky’s autograph on his cast. Paul is best known for 1980 film Fame as well as his role as Dr. Robert Romano on ER. His latest on-screen role was in TV series Under the Dome in 2015.
22. Seargeoh Stallone – Rocky Balboa Junior
The youngest son of iconic actor Sylvester Stallone appeared in Rocky II alongside his dad. Seargoah suffers with autism, causing Sylvester to narrate videos on children with disabilities. Seargoah keeps out of the spotlight now he’s grown up.
23. Rocky III
Rocky III begins with Rocky as the new heavyweight champion – that’s until the likes of Mr. T and Hulk Hogan step into the ring.
24. Hulk Hogan – Thunderlips
Hulk Hogan wasn’t well known until he appeared as wrestler Thunderlips in Rocky III. The 6ft 7 guy has kept himself busy since his involvement in the franchise, winning WWF championship in the ’80s and dominating the the wrestling TV program for all of the ’90s. In more recent years he has been involved in WWE.
25. Rocky & Apollo
After being enemies in the first two films, Rocky and Apollo join forces in Rocky III. They team up as boxer and trainer, with Apollo getting Rocky back into shape after losing to Clubber Lang.
26. Ian Fried – Rocky Jr.
Ian Fried took on the role of Rocky Balboa’s son in the third movie. The child star also appeared in TV shows such as Diff’rent Strokes, Father and Sons and The Wonder Years. These days he has moved away from acting and is a successful American journalist.
27. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger Song
Along with the third film in the franchise came this successful hit – ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor. The band made it big with the Rocky theme tune but unfortunately split after their next album failed. These days they are back together and often doing tours.
28. Rocky IV
In 1985 came Rocky IV in which Rocky and Apollo are the best of friends. Boxer Ivan Drago ends Apollo’s life in an intense fight, leaving Rocky determined to take revenge for his death in the boxing ring.
29. Brigitte Nielsen – Ludmilla Vobet Drago
Brigitte played the character of Ludmilla, Ivan’s wife and swimming champion. Since Rocky IV, the Danish star has had small on-screen appearances with her being best known for her reality show appearances such as Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Brigitte was once even married to Sylvester Stallone himself!
30. Michael Pataki – Nicoli Koloff
Michael played the sports administrator for the Russian team in the fourth instalment. Pataki’s career lasted over 40 years, appearing in The Twilight Zone, The Amazing Spiderman and Star Trek to name a few. He died of cancer in April 2010 at the age of 72.
31. James Brown Aka The Godfather Of Soul
James Brown’s song ‘Living in America’ is used near the start of the film when Drago kills Apollo in the ring. This led him to win a grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. He’s remained as one of the most iconic voices in music, with him entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Sadly, he died of heart failure at the age of 73.
32. Rocky V
Rocky fans rejoiced when the fifth instalment was released in 1990. Rocky is back with a vengeance, with Adrian and Paulie still being around too. Rocky hopes to make a comeback after getting knocked back by Ivan Drago.
33. Richard Gant – George Washington Duke
Richard Gant played the enemy in the film, promoting some of the biggest fights ever. His character of George Washington Duke is based upon the well-known boxing promotor Don King who endorsed the likes of Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson. He had a recurring role on TV series Smallville as well as General Hospital.
34. Kevin Connolly – Chickie
Chickie was Kevin Connolly’s first film role, playing the neighbourhood bully in Rocky V. Since then he’s had huge success in the likes of ER, The Notebook and John Q. His biggest success was the lead role in Entourage on HBO. He’s directing the 2017 film The Life and Death of John Gotti.
35. Sage Stallone – Rocky Balboa Jr.
Sage, Sylvester’s son, made his on-screen debut in Rocky V and went on to be an actor, producer, writer and director. He had a successful career as founder of Grindhouse Releasing. Sadly, Sage passed away at the young age of 36 in 2012 from a heart attack.
36. Tommy Morrison – Tommy ‘Machine’ Gunn
Tommy Morrison co-starred alongside Sylvester in Rocky V, playing a young protégé of Rocky Balboa. He was a successful boxer both in the movie and in real life. Morrison had a rocky life after that, contracting HIV, being charged with assaults, weapon use and drug offences. He died when he was 44 at Nebraska hospital.
37. Rocky Balboa – The Sixth Movie
Just when we didn’t think there was going to be another Rocky film, Rocky Balboa was released in 2006. Rocky is back in the ring ready to face his biggest competitor yet Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon.
38. Antonio Tarver – Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon
The professional real-life boxer took on the role of Rocky’s latest competitor. He won the IBO title in 2011.
39. Mike Tyson As Himself
It was about time Mike Tyson made an appearance in the ring. He’s a former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World – although he’s now retired from the sport. He’s stepped into acting over the years in films such as The Hangover franchise.
40. Geraldine Hughes – Marie
The character of Marie is a single mother to a teenage son, with Rocky giving them both a job. After Rocky Balboa, Geraldine Hughes went on to write and perform in a one-woman show called Belfast Blues.