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‘Rocky’ sidekick, USMC vet, real-life boxer: Burt Young dies at 83

For any Gen Xer and younger, Burt Young has played a role in our youth and growing up. Sadly he passed away at the age of 83.
Joel Searls Avatar
Sly Stallone with Burt Young on the 20th anniversary of Rocky and Young with some of his paintings.
Sly Stallone with Burt Young on the 20th anniversary of Rocky, and Young with some of his paintings.

For any Gen Xer and younger, Burt Young played a role in our youth and growing up. We first met him as Paulie in Rocky, where he was in nearly every sequel, always as Rocky’s best friend. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the first film of the series. He played Paulie all the way up to Rocky Balboa, aka Rocky VI, which is a great run for any actor. Before he made it big in Tinseltown, Young served in the Marine Corps from 1957 to 1959 and boxed winning 32 of 34 bouts. Young made his big leap into acting on the TV show Doctors in 1969 and from there, his career was moving. Young passed away earlier this month at age 83.

Burt Young in the TV series Roomies with Corey Haim.

Burt Young in the TV series Roomies with Corey Haim.

Us longtime movie watchers would likely see Young next in Chinatown, the Oscar-winning Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway film of the early 70s. He then worked in The Gambler with James Caan and The Killer Elite again with Caan and also with Robert Duvall. He then did Rocky and moved on with Convoy alongside Kris Kristofferson and Ali Macgraw all the while he had completed numerous episodes of many classic TV shows. These include titles such as The Rockford Files, Baretta, M*A*S*H and then onto more top series in the 1980s such as Miami Vice, The Equalizer and Airwolf. He maintained his film career and completed roles in such films as the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School and the Sergio Leone epic Once Upon a Time in America.

James Gandolfini with Burt Young in The Sopranos.

James Gandolfini with Burt Young in The Sopranos. (HBO)

Young also worked as a painter and a writer, with his work being featured in such collaborations as All Over with Gabrielle Tinti, and in A Man. Some of his paintings even showed up in Rocky Balboa when his character Paulie is fired from his job at the meat packing plant. He wrote many different works including two screenplays, a book titled Endings and two stage plays, SOS and A Letter to Alicia and the New York City Government from a Man With a Bullet in his Head. I want to read that last play. He owned a restaurant in the Bronx and took part in the 1984 NYC Marathon. He lived a full life and left us a wonderful amount of his artistic abilities. Long live Paulie!

Burt Young with some of his paintings.

Young with some of his paintings.