Burt Young, Oscar-nominated Rocky actor, dies aged 83
Best known as Rocky Balboa’s friend Paulie Pennino, Young mainly played Italian-Americans in hundreds of roles spanning film and television
Burt Young, the veteran character actor best known and Oscar-nominated for his role as Rocky Balboa’s best friend, Paulie, in the Rocky films, has died aged 83.
Young passed away on 8 October in Los Angeles, his daughter, Anne Morea Steingieser, told the New York Times on Wednesday. No cause of death was given.
Born Gerald Tommaso DeLouise in New York City’s Queens borough, the burly performer served in the US Marine Corps in the 1950s and later studied at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio. He went on to build a career playing mostly tough-guy and Italian-American characters on television and film.
He was best remembered for his role as Paulie Pennino in the 1976 film Rocky, playing the alcoholic butcher and pal to Sylvester Stallone’s lead character, Rocky Balboa, who made punching carcasses in the meat storage locker, where Paulie worked, part of his boxing training routine.
On Wednesday, Stallone paid tribute to his former co-star, remembering him as a “dear friend.”
“You were an incredible man’s [sic] and artist, I and the world will miss you very much,” he wrote on Instagram.
The role of Paulie, who was also the brother of Rocky’s painfully shy love interest and soon-to-be wife, Adrian (she marries Balboa in Rocky II), earned Young an Academy award nomination for best supporting actor.
The original Rocky, a motion picture sensation, amassed a total of 10 Oscar nominations and won three awards, including the prize for best picture, for its portrait of a small-time Philadelphia club boxer who gets an unlikely crack at the world heavyweight title.
Young reprised his role as Paulie in all six of the original Rocky sequels.
His other film credits included Chinatown, The Pope of Greenwich Village and Once Upon a Time in America. He also made numerous guest appearances on television on such series as M*A*S*H, The Rockford Files, Baretta and Law & Order.
In his later years, Young made a name as a painter, with his works displayed in galleries around the world.
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