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Burt Young in his signature role as Paulie Pennino (with Sylvester Stallone in »Rocky Balboa«)

Photo: ZUMA Press / IMAGO

In his best-known role, he played the brother-in-law and friend of the protagonist of the "Rocky" films, played by Sylvester Stallone. His portrayal of Paulie Pennino even earned actor Burt Young an Oscar nomination. As his manager confirmed on Wednesday, the renowned character actor has died at the age of 83. The New York Times, referring to his daughter Anne Morea Steingieser, first reported that Young died in Los Angeles on October 8.

Born Gerald Tommaso DeLouise in the New York borough of Queens, the beefy young man served in the U.S. Marines in the 14s, where he began boxing. He went on to win all <> of his professional fights, but later enrolled in Lee Strasberg's famous acting school. He made his career primarily as an actor of hard-bodied, Italian-American characters in film and television.

He will be most remembered for his appearance in the first "Rocky" film in 1976, in which he played Paulie Pennino, a butcher with a drinking problem who becomes a loyal friend of Stallone's main character. Paulie trains Rocky by having him hit hanging dead animals in the slaughterhouse. In addition, Paulie is the brother of the extremely shy Adrian (Talia Shire), with whom Rocky Balboa falls in love and whom he marries in »Rocky II«.

The role earned Young a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards (the award went to Jason Robards Jr. for his portrayal of Washington Post editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee in "The Incorruptibles"). In total, the first "Rocky" film was nominated for ten Oscars, of which it won three, including the award for best picture of 1976. Burt Young also played Paulie in all six "Rocky" sequels.

Sylvester Stallone offered his condolences with a scene photo from »Rocky« on Instagram. » "My dear friend Burt Young, you were an incredible person and artist," Stallone wrote, "I and the world will miss you dearly."

Burt Young also had a variety of other roles in important films such as »Chinatown«, »The Godfather of Greenwich Village« or »Once Upon a Time in America«. He has also made frequent guest appearances on television series such as "M*A*S*H," "Detective Rockford," "Law & Order" and "The Sopranos." In his old age, Burt Young started a second career as a painter.