Burt Young, the actor who played Paulie, the best friend and brother-in-law of Rocky Balboa, in the Rocky series, died on October 8, 2023, in Los Angeles at the age of 83 . He was also nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the first Rocky film . He appeared in many other films and TV shows, such as Chinatown, Once Upon a Time in America, and The Sopranos . He was also a painter and a former boxer and marine . He will be missed by many fans and friends, including Sylvester Stallone, who paid tribute to him on Instagram.
A Versatile and Talented Actor
Burt Young was born on April 30, 1940, in Queens, New York. His real name was Gerald Tommaso DeLouise. He changed his name to Burt Young when he started his acting career in the late 1960s. He had a rough childhood and dropped out of high school. He joined the Marines and served in the Korean War. He also became a professional boxer and had a record of 17 wins and four losses .
He made his film debut in 1970 in Carnival of Blood. He then appeared in several films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, such as The Godfather Part II (1974), where he played Michael Corleone’s bodyguard, and One from the Heart (1982). He also worked with other acclaimed directors, such as Roman Polanski in Chinatown (1974), where he played Curly, a client of private detective Jake Gittes, and Sergio Leone in Once Upon a Time in America (1984), where he played Joe Pesci’s brother .
However, he is best known for his role as Paulie Pennino in the Rocky series. He played the character in all six films from 1976 to 2006. He was the only actor besides Sylvester Stallone and Tony Burton to appear in all six films. He portrayed Paulie as a gruff but loyal friend of Rocky, who often provided comic relief and emotional support. He also had a turbulent relationship with his sister Adrian, Rocky’s wife. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the first film .
A Passionate Painter and Writer
Burt Young was not only an actor but also a painter and a writer. He started painting as a hobby when he was young and later developed his own style of abstract expressionism. He exhibited his paintings in several galleries and museums around the world, such as the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio, the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma in Italy, and the National Arts Club in New York .
He also wrote two books: an autobiography titled The Kid Stays in the Picture (1997), where he shared his personal and professional experiences, and a novel titled Endings (2010), where he explored themes of love, death, and redemption.
A Beloved Friend and Family Man
Burt Young was married to Gloria DeLouise from 1961 until her death in 1974. They had a daughter named Anne Morea, who is also an actress. He never remarried after his wife’s death. He said that he still loved her and wore her wedding ring until his own death .
He was also a close friend of Sylvester Stallone, who considered him as a brother. Stallone wrote on Instagram: “Burt Young was my friend… my family… my confidant… There is nobody that ever made me laugh more than him… I will miss him more than words can express… His legacy will live forever through his films… but more importantly through our memories… Rest In Peace my brother…”
He was also loved by his fans, who appreciated his authenticity and charisma. Many of them expressed their condolences and gratitude on social media. One fan wrote: “Burt Young was one of my favorite actors of all time. He brought so much joy and humor to the Rocky movies. He was a legend and an inspiration. Rest in peace Paulie.” Another fan wrote: “Burt Young was a true artist and a great human being. His paintings were amazing and his books were insightful. He had a beautiful soul and a generous heart. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Burt Young was a versatile and talented actor, a passionate painter and writer, and a beloved friend and family man. He left behind a rich and diverse legacy that will be cherished by generations to come. He was a true star who shone bright in the sky of cinema. He was Rocky’s Paulie, and he will always be in our hearts.
Burt Young was a man who lived his life with passion and courage. He faced many challenges and hardships, but he never gave up on his dreams. He was a fighter, a friend, and a legend. He taught us that no matter what, we should always keep moving forward.