Burt Young, the actor who played Paulie, Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law in the Rocky films, has died at the age of 83.
His manager, Lynda Bensky, described Young as an actor with tremendous emotional range and noted that his soul was the source of his true talent. According to Young's daughter, Anne Morea Steingieser, he passed away on October 8 in Los Angeles.
Young, who adopted the name Burt Young when he began his acting career, appeared in over 160 movies and television shows, often playing tough characters. His portrayal of Paulie in the first Rocky film earned him an Oscar nomination, and he continued to play the role throughout the Rocky series.
In a 2009 interview, Young revealed that he was the only actor in Rocky who did not have to audition – Sylvester Stallone saw him on the MGM lot and personally cast him. Young praised Stallone's script for its "clean street prose" and described the actor as a workaholic genius who could predict future trends. Prior to his acting career, Young briefly pursued professional boxing and studied acting under Lee Strasberg.
One of his earlier roles was alongside James Caan in Cinderella Liberty, The Gambler, and The Killer Elite. Apart from Rocky, Young also appeared in Once Upon a Time in America and had guest roles in popular TV shows such as M*A*S*H, Beretta, Miami Vice, Columbo, The Sopranos, and Russian Doll. Outside of acting, Young was passionate about painting, which he started at the age of 11.
He considered painting a liberating art form since there were no limitations or censorship compared to films. Young is survived by his daughter, his brother, and his grandson.