LOS ANGELES — Burt Young, the Oscar-nominated actor who played Polly, the gruff, grumbling and grumbling best friend, corner man and brother-in-law of Sylvester Stallone in the “Rocky” franchise, has died.
Young died Oct. 8 in Los Angeles, said his daughter, Anne Moriah Stingeeser. The New York Times On Wednesday. No reason was given. He is 83 years old.
Young has had roles in acclaimed films and television shows including “Chinatown,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and “The Sopranos.”
But he will always be best known for his role as Pauly Pennino in the six “Rocky” movies. A short, naughty, bald young, middle-aged actor who always plays.
When Polly first appeared in 1976’s “Rocky,” he was an angry, foul-mouthed meatpacker who abused his sister Adrienne (Talia Shire), with whom he shares a small apartment in Philadelphia. He berates the shy, meek Adrien for initially refusing to go on a Thanksgiving night date with his friend and co-worker Rocky Balboa, and destroys the turkey he had in the oven.
The film became a phenomenon, topping the box office for the year and making star actor and writer Stallone, who paid tribute to Young. Instagram Wednesday night.
Along with a photo of the two of them on the set of the first film, Stallone wrote, “You were an incredible man and artist and I and the world will miss you so much.”
“Rocky” was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Young. It won three, including Best Picture. Young and co-star Burgess Meredith lost to Jason Roberts in “All the President’s Men.”
As the movies went on, Young’s Polly softened, and as the sequels did, he became their comic relief. In 1985’s “Rocky IV,” he reprograms a robot that Rocky gives him as a charismatic-voiced servant.
Paulie was also an eternal pessimist, constantly convinced that Rocky was going to be outmatched by his increasingly fearsome foes. His surprise at Rocky’s resilience drew a big laugh.
In a 2020 interview with Celebrity Parents magazine, Young said, “It’s been a great ride, and it’s brought me to the audience in a great way.” “I made him a rough man. He yells a lot but he’s really just a marshmallow.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Young served in the Marine Corps, fought as a professional boxer and worked as a carpet layer before taking up acting, studying with legendary teacher Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio.
On stage, in movies and on television, he usually played small-time tough guys or down-on-their-luck working-class men.
In a brief but memorable scene in 1974’s “Chinatown,” he plays a fisherman when Jack Nicholson’s private detective Jack Kittz shows him pictures that prove his wife is cheating on him.
Young also appeared in director Sergio Leone’s 1984 gangster epic “Once Upon a Time in America” with Robert De Niro, 1986’s “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield, and 1989’s gritty drama “Last Exit to Brooklyn” with Jennifer Jason Leigh. .
In a notable appearance in season three of “The Sopranos” in 2001, he played Bobby Baccalieri, Sr., an aging mafioso with lung cancer who pulls off one last hit before dying in a car accident with a coughing fit.
Later in life, he focused on roles in the theater and painting, which led to gallery shows and sales.
His wife of 13 years, Gloria, died in 1974.
Along with her daughter, Young has a grandchild and a brother, Robert.