The struggling young man was a wannabe actor down on his luck. He barely had the money to pay rent on his rundown Hollywood apartment. He says, “I was 26, totally broke, going nowhere VERY fast, owned two pairs of pants that barely fit, shoes that had holes in them and dreams of being successful were as far away as the sun.” He also had three mouths to feed, including his wife and his dog Butkus. He loved the dog, but the young man was in dire straits. He had to say goodbye to Butkus. He tied his dog to a lamppost in front of a liquor store and held a sign offering to sell the dog for $100. A man named Little Jimmy came by and talked him down to $40. He kissed his dog goodbye and walked away, crying.
The young man didn’t wait around for his big break to knock on his door; he made it himself. In just four days, he wrote a script for what would become a very famous movie. It was a story about an underdog who becomes a champion. It was about someone just like him. In fact, he wrote the main character with himself in mind. When he tried to sell it to a Hollywood studio, they loved it. They made him an offer, but there was one catch. They didn’t want him. They wanted a bankable movie star like Burt Reynolds. He refused. He told them, ‘take it or leave it,’ he would play the part of the main character or no deal. They took it. They paid him $35,000 for the script and agreed to let him star in the film.
The young man didn’t forget about his dog Butkus. After selling the script to the studio, he went looking for Little Jimmy to buy his dog back. He offered him $200, but Little Jimmy refused. He offered him $600, then $1,000, but Little Jimmy knew how to drive a hard bargain. He demanded $15,000, but that was not all he wanted. He also wanted the young man to give him a speaking role in his movie in exchange for Butkus. And that is how Little Jimmy got a small part in a movie that won Best Picture at the prestigious Oscar Awards in 1976. The movie was Rocky, written by and starring a young Sylvester Stallone.