In the thirty years since Rocky Balboa first ascended the steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the stairs have turned into a mecca for all types of pilgrims.
They are iconic enough to inspire “Rocky Steps,” a new glossy tome by Pulitzer Prize-winning Philly Inquirer reporter Michael Vitez timed to the release of Sylvester Stallone’s return in “Rocky Balboa.”
Vitez and photographer Tom Gralish camped out for a year to find tales ranging from the ordinary (the groom and his friends in their tuxes) to the inspiring (the former addicts and wheelchair-bound) and surreal (Flavor Flav proclaiming his, um, love for Stallone ex Brigitte Nielsen).
Most remarkable is that the famous scene in “Rocky” during the boxer’s training came together at all. According to Stallone’s foreword, the crew worried about the union shutting down production, forcing an on-the-fly dawn shoot.
It also employed a portable camera by inventor Garrett Brown in the first use of the Steadicam in a feature.
Most juicily, the extras who ran behind Stallone were constantly told to slow down so they didn’t pass him. “He must have been out of shape,” says one.