Burt Young, the iconic actor best known for his role as Paulie Pennino in the blockbuster film “Rocky,” passed away at the age of 83. His death was confirmed by his manager Lynda Bensky on Wednesday.
“Burt was an actor of tremendous emotional range,” she wrote in a statement. “He could make you cry and he could scare you to death. But the real pathos that I experienced was the poignancy of his soul. That’s where it came from.”
Young began his career as a boxer, serving in the Marines from 1957 to 1959, and went on to have a brief professional boxing career. However, it was his love for acting that ultimately led him to study under the renowned Lee Strasberg for two years.
In 1976, Young landed the role of Paulie Pennino in “Rocky,” playing the boisterous and lovable brother-in-law of Sylvester Stallone’s character. The film, written by Stallone himself, became an instant hit and earned Young an Oscar nomination for best-supporting actor. He reprised his role as Paulie in five additional “Rocky” films, solidifying his place in Hollywood as a beloved character actor.
Young’s performance in “Rocky” was hailed by critics, with the New York Times describing him as “effective as Rocky’s best friend, a beer-guzzling mug.” However, it was not without its controversies, as the character of Paulie reflected the stereotypical tough guy from Queens, a neighborhood he grew up in and where his father sent him to school to keep him out of trouble.
Young continued to act in numerous films and television shows, accumulating over 160 credits in his career. He appeared in iconic films such as “Chinatown” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”
Stallone and other members of the entertainment industry mourned Young’s death, with Stallone paying tribute on Instagram, writing, “To my dear friend, Burt Young, you were an incredible man and artist. I and the world will miss you very much.”
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Young’s passing is a great loss to the entertainment world, but his legacy and impact will live on through his memorable performances and contributions to the industry.