Burt Young, starred as Paulie in the ‘Rocky’ films, dies at 83

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

Burt Young, the actor who portrayed Paulie Pennino in the first six “Rocky” films, has died, according to several media reports late Wednesday. He was 83.

According to the New York Times, Young’s daughter Anne Morea Steingieser confirmed the actor died Oct. 8. The cause of death has not been revealed.

Young developed a legion of fans for his portrayal of Paulie, the whiny, tough-talking, boozing New York meatpacker, best friend and ultimately cornerman to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in the hit film franchise. The character was also brother to Rocky’s shy girlfriend and later wife, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. Young received a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for the role following his performance in the first film.

“It was a great ride, and it brought me to the audience in a great way,” Young said in a 2020 interview with Celebrity Parents magazine about Paulie. “I made him a rough guy with a sensitivity. He’s really a marshmallow even though he yells a lot.”

In a statement released to USA Today late Wednesday night, Young’s manager, Lynda Bensky paid fond tribute to the actor.

“Burt was an actor of tremendous emotional range. He could make you cry and he could scare you to death,” she said. “But the real pathos that I experienced was the poignancy of his soul. That’s where it came from.”

Young was born Gerald Tommaso DeLouise on April 30, 1940, in Queens, New York. According to hollywoodreporter.com, Young dropped out of high school at 15, and lied about his age to join the Marines, according to his website. He became an accomplished boxer during a two-year stint in the service in Japan.

Young would later attend Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio, eventually making his television debut in 1969 on “The Doctors,” followed a year later by his big-screen debut in “Carnival of Blood,” according to Variety.

He was also an accomplished painter whose works were shown in numerous galleries around the world as well as in the restaurant bar scene from the 2006 film “Rocky Balboa.”

His film credits include “Chinatown,” “The Pope of Greenwich Village,” “The Killer Elite,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and “Back to School.” He also wrote and starred in the 1978 film “Uncle Joe Shannon.” His TV appearances include roles on “M*A*S*H,” “The Rockford Files,” “Baretta” and most recently on “The Sopranos” where he portrayed retired mobster “Bobby” Baccalieri Sr., who has one last job to do before he succumbs to cancer.

In addition to his daughter, Young is survived by one brother and a grandson. His wife, Gloria, passed away in 1974.

Joe Shannon (Burt Young) defiantly plays his trumpet after he’s bounced from a skid row bar in ‘Uncle Joe Shannon.’’

Joe Shannon (Burt Young) defiantly plays his trumpet after he’s bounced from a skid row bar in “Uncle Joe Shannon.’’

United Artists

Contributing: Associated Press

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