Running in Rocky's Famous Footsteps Michael Vitez and Tom Gralish's new book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America's Most Famous Steps captures the stories of people who've run up the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Running in Rocky's Famous Footsteps

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Now the original “Rocky” featured a famous scene: Sylvester Stallone celebrating after racing up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Thirty years later, tourists still run those steps. And for a whole year, Michael Vitez was waiting for them at the top.

Vitez and photographer Tom Gralish wrote a book called “Rocky Stories.” So we sent them with a recording engineer back to the museum steps.

Mr. MICHAEL VITEZ (Author, “Rocky Stories”): There are no runners at this moment, but we just talked to some runners a few minutes ago and I'm sure a few minute from now they'll be more. It's like the ocean; the waves keep crashing on the beach, they never stop.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Who did you see just a few minutes ago?

Mr. VITEZ: We've met just two gentlemen from Finland. Before that was a schoolteacher from the area who was bringing her class here and she ran. You just never know who you're going to meet.

INSKEEP: Well, Mr. Vitez, can I get you to pass the phone over to Tom Gralish?

Mr. VITEZ: My pleasure.

Mr. TOM GRALISH (Author of “Rocky Stories”): Hi, this is Tom Gralish.

INSKEEP: Do you remember the first time you saw “Rocky?”

Mr. GRALISH: I do remember. I was in Minneapolis. I was a young photographer and I was actually really struck by just the cinematography and the way the movie was made.

INSKEEP: What's special about the cinematography, particularly of that scene?

Mr. GRALISH: Well, that scene is definitely special in movies. You're watching it and you're right there with Rocky while he's spinning around. You're just feeling everything that he's feeling inside. Good writing is one thing but there are, you know, scenes in movie that, you know, as a visual person, I just can always appreciate. You know, Mike and I both have been here many times and have seen - I'm looking up now and there's a woman, she's got her arms up and someone's taking her picture and she...

INSKEEP: Oh, can you chase her down? Is she too far away to get?

Mr. GRALISH: She's a couple of steps up. Sure, we can go chase her down.




Mr. GRALISH: I'm Tom Gralish. I'm a photographer.

Ms. BELYAIR: Oh, hi.

Mr. GRALISH: And this is Mike Vitez.

Mr. VITEZ: How are you? We're with the Philadelphia Enquirer and we're the authors of this book...

Ms. BELYAIR: Oh, really!

Mr. VITEZ: ...about people just like you. Doing an interview right now and we'd love to ask you who you are and where you're from and why you ran like Rocky did.

Mr. GRALISH: This is Steve. He's on National Public Radio.

What's your name?

Ms. BELYAIR: My name's Lynn Belyair.

INSKEEP: Hi, Lynn.

Ms. BELYAIR: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: Where you from?

Ms. BELYAIR: Boston.

INSKEEP: What brought you to the steps of the museum today?

Ms. BELYAIR: Well, I wanted to see where Rocky was, so I ran all the way up the stairs and I stood right in his footsteps and then I raised my hands up high.

INSKEEP: I'm sorry, they've got footsteps of Rocky there?

Ms. BELYAIR: They do in bronze, or brass. They're awesome.

INSKEEP: Well, listen, thanks very much for speaking with us. I really appreciate it.

Ms. BELYAIR: Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: If you could hand the phone back to the gentlemen, I'd appreciate it.

Ms. BELYAIR: Okay.

INSKEEP: Hey, Mike, so...

Mr. VITEZ: That was great. And I think that by running the steps, they're really celebrating their own life.

INSKEEP: I'm just flipping through here. Here's two women jumping up and down, two old friends jumping up and down on top of the steps.

Mr. VITEZ: Yeah, the two old best friends from Oklahoma?

INSKEEP: Ann McCoy(ph) and Dora Horn(ph).

Mr. VITEZ: They were old friends that had been friends since their slumber party days and they came here to celebrate their, what they call their jubilee year, and they celebrated at the top of the Rocky steps. You know, one was in pearls and the other was in pumps.

INSKEEP: Listen, thanks very much. I've really enjoyed talking with you. This is a lot of fun.

Mr. VITEZ: Thanks a lot.

Mr. GRALISH: All right.

(Soundbite of song “Rocky Theme”)

INSKEEP: Tom Gralish and Michael Vitez are the authors of “Rocky Stories.” And photos from that book are at And let's listen to the sound as Mr. Vitez himself runs to the top step at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Mr. VITEZ: Here we go, here we go, here we go. All right! Rocky! Yeah! Yo, Adrian!

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

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