He was best known for playing a jaded green Vietnam veteran alongside

Robert De Niro

in 1978's Vietnam epic 'Deer Hunter' but also played a range of characters in police TV drama 'Law and Order', and his family said he passed away on Monday ( 02/19/24) following a four-year battle with a rare brain disease.

His fiancée Marina told The Hollywood Reporter he was the "most wonderful, sweetest guy" who fought "so hard" against his illness.

Paul's co-star in 1977 ice hockey comedy drama 'Slap Shot'

Steve Carlson

also confirmed the news of his death in a post on , actors."

It was the late actor's acting as 'Dr Hook' in 'Slap Shot', which also starred

Paul Newman

that inspired X-Men comic book character Wolverine.

Cartoonist John Byrne said of the star: "He just had the look. He had the crazy eyes. And that's what Wolverine needs to have."

In his later years, Paul worked as a boot fitter in a


ski shop and

He is survived by his sister Andrea and girlfriend Marina Re.

Born in Worcester and later raised in Spencer,


, he started working as a stage-hand when he was about 14, which inspired him to become an actor.

He was both an athlete and actor and appeared in theater productions and on the ice hockey team while attending Emerson College.

Paul also appeared in a string of benefit golf tournaments and sports gatherings, including the Enfield tournament, which he played in for about 10 years and raised funds for scholarships.