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Sylvester Stallone Left Janice Dickinson After a DNA Test Proved Her Child Wasn't His

The actor had broken up with Jennifer Flavin when he learned Dickinson was pregnant.

Sylvester Stallone has been famous for a long time, but this month, the action star is revealing a new side of himself—family man—to fans in his Paramount+ reality series The Family Stallone. The show explores his life as husband to Jennifer Flavin and father to the couple's three daughters… yet for the fateful results of a paternity test three decades ago, none of it would have been possible.

Stallone and Flavin, who wed in 1997, had been together before and broken up in the early '90s after years of dating. The reason for their ultimately temporary separation? Stallone had an an affair with supermodel Janice Dickinson, and she'd had a child that Stallone initially believed was his. Read on to find out how the paternity drama played out publicly and why Flavin took Stallone back.

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Stallone dumped his long-time model girlfriend for Dickinson… via FedEx.

Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin in 1998
Diane Freed/Getty Images

When he met Dickinson in the early '90s, Stallone was already in a long-term relationship with another model, Flavin, who he'd been dating since the two met in a West Hollywood restaurant in 1988. Despite having told the Toronto Star (as quoted in People) in a 1991 interview that Flavin had helped him "[love] life again," the actor seemingly couldn't keep his eye from wandering.

Stallone began an affair with Dickinson, and Flavin remained in the dark about it for at least the better part of a year. She only learned of it after the Rocky star dumped her via a six-page handwritten note he sent to her via FedEx. The break-up note didn't actually mention the affair; according to People, Flavin became aware of that via her agent, who revealed that not only was Stallone seeing Dickinson, she had already given birth to his child, a daughter they named Savannah Stallone (today, Savannah Rodin).

Stallone was one of three possible fathers to Dickinson's child.

Janice Dickinson in 2005

There was every indication that Stallone had broken up with Flavin in order to be with Dickinson and help raise their daughter. At the time, as noted by People, he was filming 1994's The Specialist in Miami, and Dickinson and the baby flew to the set to be with him. The two stars even got engaged—despite the fact that the model didn't have solid proof that Stallone was the father of her child.

In her 2002 autobiography No Lifeguard on Duty (as recounted The Mirror), Dickinson wrote that, around the time Savannah was conceived, she was dating film producer Michael Birnbaum, but "things hadn't been going well." They were going poorly enough, in fact, that the model was also seeing Stallone and another unnamed "artist" on the side—and any one of them could have been the father of her daughter. Despite that, Dickinson convinced herself Stallone was the one. "In all honesty, deep down, I felt the child was Sly's," she wrote in her book, as reported by Your Tango.

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A paternity test ended the engagement.

Janice Dickinson and daughter Savannah in 2012
Jaguar PS / Shutterstock

Having recently starred in a blockbuster action thriller about a professional mountain climber, Stallone faced a different sort of cliffhanger altogether in his relationship with Dickinson: Was Savannah his child or not? Even though he was confident enough in her claim to break up with Flavin and get engaged, Stallone still wanted a paternity test—and the results weren't what Dickinson expected.

According to No Lifeguard on Duty, as quoted by Women Working, the results came in as the model was walking in a Versace fashion show, just weeks after giving birth. Stallone was in the audience, but on her final trip down the runway, she noticed his seat was empty. When she returned to their shared hotel room, he broke the news to her.

"'She's not mine. I just heard from the DNA lab in Long Beach,'" Dickinson recalled Stallone saying. Birnbaum was actually Savannah's biological father. In Dickinson's retelling, Stallone was more sad than angry, telling the model, "'We had a good run…Say nice things about me and I'll say nice things about you,'" before abruptly leaving.

Stallone got back together with his ex.

Jennifer Flavin, Sistine Stallone, Sylvester Stallone and Sophia Stallone in 2022
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

By 1995, Stallone had reunited with Flavin. The pair married in 1997 and went on to welcome three daughters: Sophia (far right above), Sistine (second from left above), and Scarlet.

Last August, after 25 years of marriage, Flavin filed for divorce from the actor, stating that their union was "irretrievably broken," according to a report by Page Six. But within weeks, the two had reconciled, with Stallone telling The Sunday Times that the period of separation helped him to realize his family had to come first.

"Let's just say that it was a very tumultuous time," the actor told the outlet. "There was a reawakening of what was more valuable than anything, which is my love for my family. It takes precedence over my work and that was a hard lesson to learn."

As for Savannah, she is now 29 and a working Hollywood actor.

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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