Sylvester Stallone shared a touching tribute to his friend and Rocky Costar Burt Young, who died earlier this month at 83. Stallone took to Instagram, posting a throwback image of himself and Young from the original 1976 Rocky film.
“To my Dear Friend, BURT YOUNG, you were an incredible man’s and artist, I and the World will miss you very much…RIP,” Stallone wrote alongside the image. In the film series, Young portrayed Paul, a tough-talking butcher and the brother of Rocky’s love interest, Adrian. Paulie initiated one of the most iconic scenes in the original Rocky. He granted Rocky access to his meat locker, where Rocky practiced his unconventional yet highly effective training method of hammering hanging slabs of beef. This memorable scene showcased Young’s character’s generosity despite his gruff demeanor and played a significant role in Rocky’s fight preparation.
Sylvester Stallone and Burt Young Starred in Six ‘Rocky’ Films Together
The film was a huge success, dominating the box office and launching Stallone to stardom. Rocky received 10 Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Supporting Actor for Young. It ultimately won three awards, including Best Picture. However, Young and co-star Burgess Meredith, who was also nominated, lost to Jason Robards in All the President’s Men.
Burt Young’s Paulie was a darker character in the original Rocky than he’d prove to be as the series progressed. Sylvester Stallone made the sequels more cartoonish and fun with each entry. By the time Rocky IV rolled around, Paulie was reprograming a butler robot to be his romantic partner. Regardless, Young’s Paulie was the eternal pessimist, always insisting Rocky didn’t have a chance against his seemingly unstoppable opponent. Of course, Rocky would prove Paulie wrong, and Paulie’s perpetual surprise at Rocky’s stamina provided great comedic moments.
Young Played Parts in Other Iconic Films and TV Shows
Hailing from Queens, New York, Burt Young had a colorful life before catching the acting bug. He served in the Marines and spent some time as a professional boxer. However, he eventually found himself as a student of Lee Strasberg at the legendary Actors Studio.
Besides his iconic Rocky turn alongside Sylvester Stallone, Young landed roles in other high-profile films like Chinatown and Once Upon a Time in America. In 1986 he flexed more of his comedy chops when he was paired with Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. In 1989, Young starred opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh in Last Exit to Brooklyn.
In Television, Burt Young appeared in shows like The Equalizer, Miami Vice, and Walker, Texas Ranger. In a memorable role on The Sopranos, Young plays Bobby Baccalieri, Sr., an aging mafia member with lung cancer. In his later years, Young switched his attention to theater and painting.
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