'Rocky' statue may find home

Published: Sunday, May 14 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

PHILADELPHIA — A recurring question since Sylvester Stallone gave the city a statue of himself from the "Rocky III" film has been where to locate such a memento.

In donating the 8-foot, 6-inch, half-ton statue of himself in boxing trunks in 1982, Stallone favored a prominent location, such as the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps made famous in the original "Rocky" movie.

Art Museum officials and the city Art Commission, citing its commercial nature, and some questioning its artistic worth, opposed the idea.

In a compromise, the statue was located on the steps for a few months, then moved to the Spectrum, in the Philadelphia Sports Complex about four miles south of Center City. Later moves found the statue near the Wachovia Center — and, most recently, in storage.

Now the statue may be making a comeback. After what Joan Schlotterbeck, the city's commissioner of public property, described as ongoing interest from Stallone and his representatives in a prominent display, another proposal is being considered.

City officials proposed, and the Fairmount Park Commission on Wednesday approved, a site at the foot of and just east of the museum steps. Schlotterbeck said Stallone agreed. "This is the first time we gave him a compromise that works and he accepted," she said.

The Art Museum also "OK'd" the site, said Norman Keyes, a museum spokesman, but the decision still was not final.

E. Harris Baum, the city's park commissioner, expressed dismay. "If a film about Donald Duck in Philadelphia comes out, do we put a Donald Duck statue in our park system?" he asked. "Rocky is fine. But other films have relevance, too. Where do we stop?"

Stallone, 59, is bringing Rocky out of retirement. He wrote, directed and stars in "Rocky Balboa," the sixth film in the franchise, which is expected to be released in December.

Laura Griffith of the Fairmount Park Art Association, a public organization maintaining other sculpture along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, said that group was not involved in the Rocky relocation and she had no comment on the site.

The location also requires city Art Commission approval.

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