Eventually, it was thought he died due to a drug overdose, but he actually died of a heart attack.
Being a celebrity kid is no easy feat; there's so much pressure on you because of who your parent is, and this ultimate need to behave well in the public eye. Also, they're constantly compared to their mom or dad and their pros and cons are up for discussion. While some people revel in the attention they get because of who their parent is, some just can't deal with all the hype that follows them. Sylvester Stallone's son, Sage Moonblood Stallone, was actually the second kind. He was someone who put in a lot of effort to pave his own way, because he did not want to remain in his father's shadow.
Sage was born on May 5, 1976, to Sylvester Stallone and actress Sasha Czack in Los Angeles, the same year that Stallone made Rocky a big hit. Years later, Sage made his first appearance on the big screen in his dad's 1990 blockbuster, Rocky V, per IMDb. Though Sage was Stallone's first child, he rarely got along with his parents. Sage wasn't able to wrap his head around the ageless, muscle-bound action heroes embodied by Stallone, per PEOPLE.
Stallone, too, never missed an opportunity to keep telling Sage about how skinny he was as a kid, and even pointed it out when he became overweight and out of shape in the years before his death. “The love-hate would go back and forth all the time,” recalled longtime friend and fellow actor, Stephen Wozniak. “[Sage] would say, ‘I loved that rare ending in Nighthawks that my dad was really sticking up for.’ And then a few minutes later he would look in a magazine and say, ‘Look at these tribal tattoos that my dad is getting at age 66. What is he doing?’ ”
When Stallone chose a thinner Milo Ventimiglia to play Rocky Jr. in Rocky Balboa, instead of his own son, who would have reprised his Rocky V role, is when one of their many arguments started.
Sage was hurt and disappointed with his father's choice. “Sage wanted to do it,” shared another longtime friend, director David DeFalco, who cast Sage in his horror movie Chaos. But, Stallone kept talking about his son's lack of enthusiasm for fitness, and said, "He avoids the gym like the plague, and is interested in abstract, art-house films. He has put himself in a position in which he’ll never have to be compared to me.” At the same time, Sage shared that some of the dialogues he told his dad was more than just acting, it was almost like he was saying it to his dad in real life, especially when his character yelled at his dad's character in Rocky V.
“When I was screaming: ‘You never spent time with me! You never spent time with my mother!’ that was true. I was looking into my father’s face and really saying that,” Sage, whose parents split in 1985 amid rumors of Sylvester’s affairs, said at the time. “I got a lot of things out. We broke into tears a few times. After the film, everything changed. We’d do anything for each other.”
Unfortunately, on July 13, 2012, Sage passed away due to a heart attack. At first, the cause of the actor’s death was unknown. His lawyer explained that Sage had never shown signs of mental health issues and that he was even planning on getting married soon. Later on, it was revealed that he was on drugs like Vicodin and Xanax for anxiety. However, police eventually determined that Sage died of a heart attack. He suffered from heart disease and also had no traces of drugs in his system. Despite all the issues that the father and son had, it was not easy for him to lose his firstborn, Stallone admitted to TMZ. “When a parent loses a child, there is no greater pain," a heartbroken Stallone said at the time.
Cover Image Source:
Left: Getty Images | Photo by Frazer Harrison
Right: Getty Images | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris