Jackie Stallone, the mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester and one of Celebrity Big Brother’s most memorable contestants, has died aged 98.
The larger-than-life character, who was known as an astrologer and wrestling promoter, “died in her sleep as she wished,” said her youngest son, Frank.
“It was hard not to like her, she was a very eccentric and flamboyant person,” he added in an Instagram post.
“Her mind was razor sharp until the day she died.”
Born Jacqueline Frances Labofish on 29 November 1921, Stallone ran away from her home in Washington DC as a 15-year-old to join the circus.
“My father, who was a wealthy lawyer, wanted me to go to law school, but I wanted to be on stage,” she told The Times in 2005.
She worked as a trapeze artist for two years before taking a job as a chorus girl on Broadway.
Stallone married her first husband Frank Stallone Sr, a hairdresser and occasional actor, in 1945. They remained together for 12 years and had two sons: Actor Sylvester and musician Frank.
She also had a daughter, Toni D’Alto, during her second marriage to Anthony Filiti. D’Alto died of lung cancer in 2012, at the age of 48.
A long-time advocate for women’s fitness, she opened a female-only gym in the 1950s, called Barbella’s, and presented an exercise slot on local TV in Washington, DC.
In the 1980s, she appeared on the wrestling programme GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – which helped women’s wrestling become mainstream on television. The origins of the organization have recently been chronicled in the Netflix series Glow, starring Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin.
While her son Sylvester ascended to the Hollywood A-list through films like Rambo and Rocky, Stallone remained relatively low-profile, only becoming a household name in her own right in the 1990s, through her life-long passion for astrology.
In 1989, she wrote the book Star Power: An Astrological Guide to Supersuccess, and started to make regular TV appearances as an astrologer and psychic.
For a time, she ran her own psychic hotline, and also claimed to have invented the term “rumpology”, which is the art of reading people’s futures by reading the lines and crevices of their buttocks.
Big Brother moment
She married her third husband, Stephen Devine in 1998, although they lived 10 miles apart for the majority of their relationship.
“He’d prefer we lived together, but I did that for 20 years with my previous husbands and it didn’t work,” she once said.
In 2005, Stallone had a memorable stint in the UK’s version of Celebrity Big Brother, entering the house as a surprise contestant.
Her arrival was a shock for her former daughter-in-law Brigitte Nielsen, with whom she had a frosty relationship.
Upon seeing Stallone, a stunned Nielsen exclaimed: “Oh my God! Jackie!”
In response, Stallone, wearing a fur coat and sunglasses, deadpanned: “Yeah… Jackie.”
Broadcaster Jamie East, who presented the spin-off show Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, wrote on Twitter: “RIP Jackie Stallone – responsible for one of the greatest ever moments on television.”
Stallone was still active into her 90s, practizing weight-lifting and trapeze work, while attempting to defy age with a series of plastic surgeries, that she later came to regret.
“Actually I’ve got too much,” she told Reveal magazine in 2013. “I look like I’ve got a mouthful of nuts… I feel I look like a chipmunk.”
Her son, Frank, announced her death by posting a vintage headshot of Stallone from her acting days.
“I guess I’m drowning my emotions in tears and to[o] much vino,” he wrote. “But when you’ve known someone for 70 yrs it tough and sad.
“My brother Sylvester took care of her like a Queen for all of her life. I will never be able to call my mom again or have her yell at me why I never got married.
“But we all loved her and her sprit to survive and prevail. I’ll miss you always mommy.”
Stallone is survived by her husband Devine, her sons Sylvester and Frank and six grandchildren.
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