I remember seeing my first Sylvester Stallone film at the tender age of ... well, none of your business. This is Hollywood, after all, and we don't discuss our ages here. Anyway, the movie I saw was the classic story of an underdog loser who gets his one shot at greatness called Rocky. It was a great movie and Stallone was great in it, along with the rest of the cast that included Burgess Meredith as driven trainer Mick, Burt Young as simple but lovable Paulie and Talia Shire as Adrian -- the girl who makes it all worthwhile. Rocky was the first movie I remember seeing where the hero didn't win the fight but still got the girl. That worked for me, so after seeing Rocky, I was a Stallone fan.

I've remained a fan over the years, even during the dark days where it seemed Stallone had lost his way. When was doing films like Over the Top, Rambo III and Judge Dredd, I always knew he would eventually come around and take his rightful place among the icons of cinema. Fortunately, he was finally able to redeem himself by appearing in James Mangold's excellent character study Copland. This film proved that not only could Stallone pick good material if he wanted to, he could take that material and really make something out of it.

And now I'm not alone in feeling that Stallone deserves iconic status in the lore of cinema. NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners -- not the political group) thinks so too. According to a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter, Stallone was honored Tuesday evening by NATO with its Show East Icon Award, which is given once a year to an individual or institution that has achieved "iconic" status in entertainment. Stallone accepted the award while standing in a boxing ring with MGM Chief Rick Sands, who was there to promote MGM's newest slate of films -- including the upcoming Rocky Balboa, which Stallone wrote, directed and stars. After accepting the award, Stallone reportedly dropped it. Not missing a beat, the actor said: "I'm glad this fell down. It's all about getting up again, isn't it?" Yes it is.