Burt Young, the veteran character actor who played Paulie in six of the Rocky films starring Sylvester Stallone, has died aged 83.
Young died on Sunday, October 8, in Los Angeles, his daughter, Anne Morea Steingieser, told the New York Times, which first reported his death on Wednesday.
The Queens-raised actor had a prolific career on screen, with more than 160 film and TV credits to his name, including roles in such films as Chinatown, The Gambler, and Once Upon a Time in America, and television appearances in the likes of The Rockford Files, Miami Vice, and The Sopranos, for single episodes.
Young is perhaps best remembered for his role as Paulie Pennino, Rocky Balboa’s closest friend and the brother of his wife Adrian, in the first six Rocky films opposite Stallone. Young earned an Oscar nomination for supporting actor for his performance in the original 1976 feature, and he went on to reprise the role in every Rocky movie through to the 2006 film Rocky Balboa – the sixth entry in the beloved franchise.
Stallone paid tribute to his former Rocky co-star on Instagram on Wednesday, when Young’s death became public, writing: “To my dear friend, Burt Young, you were an incredible man’s and artist, I and the world will miss you very much… RIP.” He posted the message alongside a black-and-white photo of them both.
James Woods, who starred in Once Upon a Time in America with Young, also shared a few words, writing on X: “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.”
Diane Franklin, who worked with Young on the 1982 supernatural horror film Amityville 2: The Possession, shared a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, writing: “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 2: The Possession. He was a beautiful, funny, talented man, with a deep soul. He will be deeply missed”.
Young is survived by his daughter, Anne Morea, brother, Robert, and a grandson. His wife Gloria died in 1974.
Image credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images
Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. You can follow her on X @AdeleAnkers.