By Shelley Levitt
Updated April 24, 1995 12:00 PM

SHE HAS STRUTTED CATWALKS IN Milan and Paris, posed four years for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Swimsuit Issue and, at 25, is so worldly a traveler that she has perfected the art of smuggling her beloved Maltese dog, Eddie, aboard transatlantic flights, where she feeds him bits of Chateaubriand. But when supermodel Angie Everhart phoned her mother, Ginnie, 49, back in her hometown of Akron, Ohio, in late February, she sounded like any star-struck ingenue. “Mother!” she gushed. “Guess who just called me!”

The “who” was Sylvester Stallone, 48, who’d been awestruck himself after spotting a photo of Everhart, alongside Mickey Rourke, on the cover of Winter ’95’s In Fashion magazine. Stallone wasted no time before calling her up. This wasn’t a date, though: The veteran action hero was merely offering to introduce the fledgling actress to a movie producer he knew. A few weeks later, after mutual friends finally introduced the pair at L.A.’s House of Blues, they embarked on an improbable whirlwind courtship.

Improbable, because Stallone was then dating Austrian model Andrea Wieser, 22, while Everhart was still getting over her recently broken engagement to a Lebanese businessman. Moreover, Stallone had to fly up to Oregon to shoot his latest thriller, Assassins, just as Everhart was headed for San Francisco to play a call girl in the murder mystery Jade. Jaded observers were shocked when, bare weeks after their Blues session, Everhart arrived at the opening of Planet Hollywood by Stallone’s side and, two days later, was on his arm at the Academy Awards. The couple even squeezed in a trip to Miami, where Stallone is renovating his $8 million, 11-acre bayside estate. Yo, could this be the real thing? Compelling proof arrived last week in a press release announcing the couple’s engagement. “We are very much in love,” they said in a joint statement, “and we couldn’t be happier.”

Though Everhart’s parents and four older siblings have so far spoken to Stallone only on the phone and have seen the engagement ring—two diamonds framing an emerald—only in photographs, they seem delighted with their prospective in-law. “When Angie called Ginnie to tell her the good news,” recalls Bobby Everhart, 64, an engineer, “she said, ‘Mom, I’ve met someone just like Dad.’ ” Adds the flattered dad: “This guy will fool you. He’s intelligent and articulate, not what you’d expect.”

This is hardly the first time a photograph has led to a proposal from Stallone. In 1985, separated from his first wife, Sasha, the mother of his two sons, he was staying in a Manhattan hotel when Danish model Brigitte Nielsen, then 21, sent up a very provocative snapshot of herself. A few months later the two were wed—and, less than two years after that, divorced. Stallone rebounded with a 5½-year relationship with model Jennifer Flavin, which ended in March 1994, when he began a romance with model Janice Dickinson. That in turn ended last July when DNA tests proved Stallone was not the father of Dickinson’s now 13-month-old daughter Savannah.

Everhart, too, has had some intriguing alliances. At 23, she was the date of a Saudi prince at one of President Clinton’s Inaugural balls. And in February she was spotted dining with Kevin Costner at Drai’s, a hip L.A. restaurant, though she denied reports that the two were an item.

For now, rumors continue to fly about her upcoming nuptials with Stallone. One report had it that Sly wanted to tie the knot in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Everhart’s family contends that was merely a joke, though Ginnie says she and her daughter “used to dream about what her wedding would be like.”

Wherever, and whenever, the blessed event takes place, the bride and groom will no doubt look smashing. “Sly is really into being in shape,” confides Angie’s brother Mike, 29. “Sometimes they work out together twice a day.”