Burt Young famously was the only actor who didn’t audition for “Rocky,” as his reputation as both a character actor and former boxer preceded him. He had appeared on television shows like “M*A*S*H,” “Law & Order,” “The Rockford Files,” “Baretta,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Miami Vice,” and “All in the Family,” in addition to films like “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Uncle Joe Shannon,” which he also wrote. He was also a decorated stage performer, even starring in the Off-Broadway play “Cuba and His Teddy Bear” with Robert De Niro and Ralph Macchio in 1986. The production eventually moved to Broadway. He returned to the stage in 2017 as an aging mob boss in “The Last Vig,” a play written by Dave Varriale at The Zephyr Theatre in Los Angeles.
In addition to acting, Young at one point owned a restaurant in Brooklyn, and was an avid painter whose art was displayed internationally. He designed the cover for Gabriele Tinti’s poetry collection “All Over,” and some of his paintings are even on display in “Rocky Balboa” during the scene when Paulie is fired from the meatpacking plant. He wrote the historical novel “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.” Truly a Renaissance Man for the ages, but forever in our hearts as the lovable grump who threw a turkey into the street on Thanksgiving.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Young is survived by a brother, Robert, and a grandson. His wife, Gloria, passed away in 1974. May he rest in peace.