Burt Young Dies at 83; He Played Paulie in Six ‘Rocky’ Films

Burt Young Dies at 83; He Played Paulie in Six ‘Rocky’ Films

Actor Burt Young died in Hollywood on October 8 at the age of 83.

Young was noted for his portrayal of thuggish yet endearing characters throughout his half-century film career. He is perhaps best known for playing the character of Paulie, Rocky’s best friend, in six of the Stallone films, earning an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor in the original movie. Upon the film’s release in 1976, Young was described in an otherwise dismissive New York Times review in these terms: “Burt Young is effective as Rocky’s best friend, a beer-guzzling mug.”

In 1977, Young appeared in The Choirboys, a police dramedy, critic Richard Winters declared: “There are a few bright spots. I really liked the Burt Young character. Many people remember him best from the ‘Rocky’ movies. Here he plays an incredibly grungy, crass police sergeant who exposes a tender side at a completely unexpected moment.”

The versatile character actor also played a truck driver in Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy (1978), a wrestling promoter in All the Marbles (1981), a minor hoodlum in Once Upon a Time in America (1984), and a chauffeur and bodyguard in Back to School (1986). His other tough-guy roles included mobster Bed Bug Eddie in The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984).

Later in his career, Young appeared as a mob boss in the 1999 romantic comedy Mickey Blue Eyes. He played the role of a transsexual’s father in Transamerica (2006) and a sleazy lawyer in Win Win (2011).
Young also appeared in a number of TV series and made-for-television movies, including episodes of M*A*S*H, Little House on the Prairie, The Sopranos and Law & Order.

Born into an Italian family in the New York City borough of Queens, Young dropped out of school at 15 to serve in the U.S. Marines. He later studied acting at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, and made his film debut in 1970 in the horror film Carnival of Love.

In a tribute posted after the actor’s death, Sylvester Stallone called Young a “dear friend” and “incredible man and artist.”

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