Growing up in Philadelphia in the ’70s, Rocky was royalty.
I don’t remember the first time I heard his name, the first time I saw the original “Rocky” or the first time I heard those “Gonna Fly Now” horns.
Rocky Balboa was as Philly as cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and the Liberty Bell.
He always just existed in the City of Brotherly Love that I knew as a little shorty — back when I went by Chucky instead of Chuck.
When word went around my elementary school that they were looking for children to be extras in “Rocky II” — after the first “Rocky” was a box-office smash and beat out such classics as “All the President’s Men,” “Network” and “Taxi Driver” for the Best Picture Oscar in 1977 — I was ready for my close-up.
And as “Creed III,” opening Friday, continues the “Rocky” movie legacy — even sans Sylvester Stallone — it takes me back to that day in late 1978 and reminds me why the boxing-film franchise will always hold a special place in my heart.
Somehow I talked my parents into me being an extra in the iconic “Rocky II” scene where hundreds of kids run after the fabled boxer and up the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My older sister was already taking clarinet lessons — surely this was my time to embrace my inner artiste.
I’ll never forget getting that release form to take home that was more precious than any permission slip I’d ever seen before.
My dad, acting as stage father on a cold Saturday morning, took me to Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the shoot. It was just a quick jog away from the art museum steps — now forever known as the Rocky Steps.
We spent most of the day waiting around in anticipation of our big moment with Stallone, who was not only starring in “Rocky II” but directing the film.
Finally, it was our time to shoot. In take after take, we took off after Rocky.
Even though I was never the most athletic kid, I flew that day — with those horns blaring in my head.
All of us wanted to get close to Stallone — and better our chances of seeing ourselves on the big screen.
At one point, I actually managed to touch his sweaty back.
But, when the movie hit theaters in June 1979, I was disappointed to not be able to see myself in all my cinematic glory.
When I eventually got a VHS tape of “Rocky II” — which I still have somewhere — I rewound that scene countless times to see if I could find myself in the sea of schoolchildren, wearing my coke-bottle glasses. No luck.
Since it was long before the days of cellphones, I don’t even have any photos to prove that I was there.
But as a proud Philly homeboy, it remains on the highlight reel of my life.