The entertainment industry is in a state of mourning following the loss of one of its most iconic stars, Burt Young, who passed away at the age of 83.
Young, best known for his role as Paulie Pennino in the legendary Rocky film series, left a lasting mark on Hollywood, captivating audiences worldwide with his unmatched talent and gritty performances.
His death was confirmed on Wednesday, October 18 by his daughter, Anne Morea Steingieser, as reported by The New York Times.
Following his passing, Young’s manager Lynda Bensky issued a statement in which she called him, “An actor of tremendous emotional range”.
“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,” she added.
Born on April 30, 1940, Young’s journey into the world of acting was marked by mentorship under the legendary Lee Strasberg at the prestigious Actors Studio. Under Strasberg’s guidance, Young honed his craft and developed a remarkable ability to breathe life into the characters he would later portray on screen.
It was in 1976 that Young’s name became synonymous with a particular brand of rough-edged and relatable characters, most notably his iconic role as Paulie, Rocky Balboa’s loyal friend and future brother-in-law, in the seminal film Rocky. His portrayal was nothing short of brilliance, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
While Rocky was his defining moment, Young’s talent extended far beyond the boxing ring. His impressive filmography includes roles in cinematic classics like Chinatown, Convoy, Back to School, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Once Upon a Time in America, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Downtown: A Street Tale, and Amityville II: The Possession.
Young’s versatility shone on the small screen as well, with appearances in popular television series such as The Rockford Files, Baretta, Law & Order, Walker, Texas Ranger, All In The Family, MASH, and Miami Vice. Notably, his poignant performance on The Sopranos as Bobby Baccalieri’s ailing father left a lasting impact on viewers.
Young’s talents were not just confined to the screen, he was also a prolific painter. His artistic creations adorned galleries around the world, and he collaborated with writer Gabriele Tinti, crafting the cover for the poetry collection All Over and contributing illustrations to the art book A Man. In a memorable scene from Rocky Balboa, some of Young’s actual paintings were featured, adding a personal touch to his character, Paulie.
The news of Young’s passing triggered an outpouring of tributes from celebrities and fans alike. Sylvester Stallone, Young’s longtime friend and co-star, was among the first to offer his condolences.
“To my Dear Friend, BURT YOUNG, you were an incredible man and artist, I and the World will miss you very much…RIP,” he wrote in a post on Instagram.
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RIP, Burt Young! A beautiful and talented soul. He was such an integral part of the Rocky family. “You want the bird? Go get the bird.” Paulie will be with us forever! #BePeace
— Carl Weathers (@TheCarlWeathers) October 19, 2023
Terrible loss. My dear friend Burt Young. One of the greats. We’ll miss you. pic.twitter.com/Mjr3beWKwx
— Tony Danza (@TonyDanza) October 19, 2023
It is with great sadness I share the news of actor, Burt Young passing. He was 83. For those who don’t know he played my father in “AMITYVILLE II:The Possession.” He was a beautiful, funny, talented man, with a deep soul. He will be deeply missed. #ripburtyoung pic.twitter.com/lMhyFIkQap
— Diane Franklin (@DianeFranklin80) October 19, 2023
Rest In Peace Burt Young. What a great actor and a sweetheart of a man. My deepest condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/X4I1Gnk3YE
— Maureen McCormick (@MoMcCormick7) October 19, 2023
Burt Young was a unique and authentic actor. When he played a role, you couldn’t imagine anyone else. We did Once Upon a Time in America and a little independent called Kicked in the Head together. RIP, my friend. pic.twitter.com/pfpwSIXq4K
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) October 19, 2023
Burt Young was a scene stealer throughout the entire Rocky franchise, but his performance in Rocky Balboa was tremendous. Could argue it was his best performance as Paulie.
Rest in Peace pic.twitter.com/ubEBDyenhZ
— Jonathan J. (Redacted) (@_JonathanNotJon) October 19, 2023
Rest in peace Burt Young. He was a good guy. Used to interact with fans on social media. Very funny and likeable man. May the gentle winds now blow under your wings Burt!
— Croxxed Out (@FLCons) October 19, 2023
One of the greatest actors ever.
His role as a hit man in the Sopranos was one of the best tv roles ever.
I tweeted him once and told him that character deserves a spin-off. He agreed.
— RealtyPodcast?️ (@RealtyPodcast) October 19, 2023
Sad news, great character Paulie, as well as his other roles, but Rocky will always be the one. One of those characters, that always seemed older than they actually were.
— Marcus (@auric_k) October 19, 2023
Young is survived by his daughter, brother, and grandson.