Sorry, Tourists: The Rocky Statue Is Temporarily Off-Limits

Starting today, the Rocky statue at the foot of the Art Museum will be closed until mid-June for “site improvements,” according to the city’s Parks & Recreation Department and VisitPhilly.

That means no more selfies with our city’s most legendary fighter for the time being, to the dismay of out-of-towners and the boxing layman. (At least we finally got that statue of Smokin’ Joe and his thunderous left hook up at XFINITY Live!) Read more »

The Pet Shop in “Rocky” Just Got Demolished

rocky pet shop

In Philly, we tend to destroy the buildings we treasure – such was the case with the historic Boyd Theater in Center City and such will likely be the case with Jewelers Row (assuming Toll goes ahead with the project).

And now, a lesser-known but just as lovable site has seen its last day: the Kensington storefront that doubled as Adrian’s pet shop in “Rocky” has been demolished. It’s a sad day for Rocky fans, who were apparently dumpster diving in their desperation to hold on to a piece of the movie setting forever.

Rocky tour guide Ben Caplan realized the store was being demolished mid-tour yesterday.

“I was getting ready to tell these people, ‘Well, hey, across the street is the –,’ and then I looked over and saw a big bulldozer,” Caplan told Philly.com.

You’ll remember the pet shop as the place where Rocky met his wife, Adrian, and bought his dog, Butkus. It’s been vacant for some time, but for many years, the store was a real Kensington pet shop called J&M Tropical Fish, owned and named after Joe Marks and his father, Morris Marks, who opened the shop in 1963.

Marks still owns the two turtles that Rocky bought in the movie – Cuff and Link – but he closed the shop in 2003, a few years after his father died, and sold the building in 2011.

“I think it’s sad to see it go and sad that it was in the state it was in,” Marks, 71, said. “I think sometimes the best aspirations in life don’t come true sometimes. I had visions and thoughts of a Rocky museum type of idea for this to work, but that’s just things in my mind. I have a lot of memories of it.”

Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo first talked to Marks last year for the magazine’s oral history of the Rocky movies. Marks spoke about how the film crew first reached out to him in 1975, and how he got to “meet Hollywood,” as he said, including Sylvester Stallone, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, Tommy Morrison and more.

“The first time they filmed, I didn’t know Sylvester Stallone from the man on the moon,” Marks said by phone today. “He was young, and kind of stoic, to a point. We didn’t talk much. The next time they came to look at the store [to film the second movie] it wasn’t in a regular car –they came in a limousine.”

Marks, who’s lived in Kensington for the majority of his life, said he wished the site would’ve been preserved.

“I feel that the effect the movie had on Philadelphia … I think that maybe there should’ve been more city interest in actually helping preserve sites,” Marks said. “I’m not talking about street-corner sites, but I know that the movie is an inspiration to a lot of generations that have come into being.

“It showed that anything is possible in America,” he added. “It was a great storyline, a fantastic storyline. It put Philadelphia on the map. Even though we’re not in the greatest part of the city, they could’ve looked at that to a point.”

Kensington is home to several other film locations, like the Lucky 7 Tavern and Mighty Micks Gym (which Marks’s uncle owned at the time of filming). All three locations are detailed in the filming location guide on TotalRocky.com (though the pet shop info has yet to be updated).

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

5 Movies to Watch This Week

Rocky

Gremlins @ Ruba Club | Wednesday, December 7
Ruba Club is showing ’80s favorite Gremlins on a giant screen, along with movie-themed Quizzo, a selection of holiday shorts, popcorn, and drinks at the ballroom bar.

Local Film Night Vol. 1 @ Martha | Wednesday, December 7
Martha is starting up a movie-night series highlighting local filmmakers and they’re promising “some of the best, funniest, and downright odd shorts from Philly.” It’s free to get in and there will be drink specials.

Rock Docs: Monterey Pop @ National Museum of American Jewish History | Thursday, December 8
Tied to the “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit (up through January 16th, 2017), the NMAJH is screening concert documentary Monterey Pop, about the 1967 music festival featuring Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead and other storied artists. Tickets include access to the exhibit. Before the film, World Café Live is throwing a Summer of Love party at the museum with live music. Read more »

We Asked Rocky Composer Bill Conti About Donald Trump Using His Music

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

Images via Wikimedia Commons.

“Gonna Fly Now,” otherwise known as the Rocky theme, is easily one of the most iconic pieces of film music ever written, right up there with the Godfather theme and Richard Strauss’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” made popular by 2001: A Space Odyssey. So when Donald Trump co-opted the Rocky tune for his entrance music during a rally last week, we decided to get Rocky composer Bill Conti on the phone. Read more »

Burt Young (aka Paulie) Recently Climbed the Rocky Steps

Paulie may be dead in the Rocky series, but Burt Young is still alive and kicking.

Or, rather, running? Maybe. Per a post to his Facebook page the other day,  Young was in Philadelphia recently and made it up the 72 steps at the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Read more »

Video: Baby Imitates Rocky II Training Montage

Rocky Balboa seems to be quite the inspiration today: Earlier today, we posted a video of Steve Krause, a man with a rare disability who trained for months to climb the Rocky Steps. And now, there’s this baby, delightfully nicknamed Baby Balboa, who has managed to create the cutest workout inspiration ever with a very impressive imitation of the training montage from Rocky II. Naturally, the video, originally posted on Facebook by the baby’s father, has gone viral. Check it out below.  Read more »

Muhammad Ali Loved the Running Scene in Rocky II

Rocky - Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali died over the weekend. For decades, Ali had battled Parkinson’s Disease in the public eye. It robbed him of his ability to speak.

The Ali one sees in old footage won’t stop talking. And it was this Ali that agreed to do a story with Roger Ebert in 1979, two years before his final fight. The two got together to watch Rocky II.

The story is great. Ebert even rides with Ali to the screening, and sees the former champ surprise fellow drivers by sitting in the front seat and waving at them. “Not one person who saw Ali in the car failed to recognize him, to wave at him, to shout something,” Ebert writes. “Ali says he is the most famous person in the world. He may be right.” Read more »

Joltin’ Joey DeMalavez: The Real Life Rocky

Photograph by Steve Boyle

Photograph by Steve Boyle

The Joltin’ Jabs gym on Sansom Street is just a few blocks away from Rittenhouse Square, but be forewarned, ye who enter — you won’t be pampered, coddled or comforted. You will sweat, and you will suffer.

The man responsible for your pain is sitting across from me on a folding chair, surrounded by heavy bags and speed bags hung from the ceiling — the tools of his trade. Joey DeMalavez — former pro boxer, current Philadelphia trainer du jour, future shoo-in for reality-TV stardom — wears red track pants, a white knit cap on his shaved head, and a Joltin’ Jabs long-sleeve shirt that doesn’t hide his ample biceps or the tattoos that run up his neck and down to his wrists. There’s a skull on his right hand, an open Bible with a heart on the left one, and a bold letter on each finger that together spell out JOLTIN’ JABS.

after the jump »

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