Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Burt Young Reflects on 'Rocky' Series, Career, 'Paulie' Character

image

By Thomas Gerbasi

Several films into a budding acting career, Burt Young probably thought he was done with boxing when he was approached about appearing in a low-budget production about a club fighter from Philadelphia given the opportunity of a lifetime to fight for the world heavyweight championship.

And as soon as he read Sylvester Stallone’s script for Rocky, he knew that despite the way Hollywood felt about boxing at the time, he was in.

“In those days, boxing movies weren’t fashionable,” Young said. “But he (Stallone) wrote so beautifully and eloquently, and so I really wanted to be a part of it.”

Young couldn’t have known that he would ultimately play Paulie Pennino in six “Rocky” films, but the friend of the title character (and later his brother-in-law) became a pivotal part of the beloved franchise, and today, the Port Washington, New York resident isn’t surprised at the series’ longevity.

“The acting was superb, and with the people he (Stallone) had involved, it was a pretty gifted group. So besides the writing, the cast was wonderful. (Robert) Chartoff and (Irwin) Winkler were very gifted producers as well.”

This Saturday, the Silver Screen Sports Film Festival presents a celebration of “Rocky” and the hockey classic “Slap Shot” at Tarrytown Music Hall in Westchester, with Young and the actors who played the Hanson Brothers participating in a Q&A after screenings at 12:15pm and 7:45pm.

It’s a return to an interesting time for Young, now 77, who had already served in the United States Marine Corps and told the LA Times in 1985 that he was “in every business in the world that didn’t have an inventory.” One of those businesses was boxing, and after several amateur bouts while in the Marines, he turned pro with none other as Cus D’Amato as his manager.

burt-young

Fighting under a series of aliases, Young says that he compiled a 17-0 record, with his apprenticeship in the ring aided by sparring sessions with the likes of Jose Torres and “Irish” Bobby Cassidy. But there would be no greater glory for him in the ring.

“I had a future, but my family didn’t want me taking punches,” he said. “So I did what I could do and I put my own heart, my own needs aside. Of course I missed it. But it’s a hard sport to miss because who likes to get punched in the face.”

It’s clear that Young has no regrets, and why would he? He learned acting under the tutelage of the legendary Lee Strasberg, appeared in classics such as “Chinatown,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” and is also an accomplished writer and painter. He even dabbled in boxing management, leading David Sears to a 1985 light heavyweight title shot against Michael Spinks.

“David was okay, but you didn’t know what you had until fight night,” said Young of Sears, who was stopped in three rounds by Spinks. So is it safe to say his days as a manager are done?

“If something came along and some kid needed a hand, I would help him, but I don’t want to lose my day job,” he laughs.
 
He won’t have to worry about that, yet despite all the roles he’s played, it’s likely that all talk will eventually return to Paulie, the cantankerous foil to Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, full of one-liners and a view of the world all his own.

“Paulie was very unhappy,” Young said of his most iconic character. “He was sort of impoverished, he was jealous of his friend, even jealous that he gave Rocky to his sister. He was just sad.”

Yet fans of the Rocky series still loved him. Maybe we see a bit of ourselves in a bit of Paulie.

“I think so,” he said. “I think I could show everybody themselves a little bit. I get sad just remembering now.”

Being able to make someone with so many unlikeable traits lovable is a gift from a talented character actor, but that’s the way Young approached every role.

“I did what I could,” he said. “It could be big budget, small budget, I turned myself inside and out for a movie. It’s the same way I write – I live for the project.”

And what a project “Rocky” was.

“It had to do with the producers and the kind of gang we had,” Young said. “From Talia Shire to Sylvester, the gang we had, they put it together and it was a great ensemble. And in his (Stallone’s) writing, it took it further than just a movie. And of course, being a fighter, I loved the subject matter. I just loved it.”

For more information on the Silver Screen Sports Film Festival, visit http://tarrytownmusichall.org/

Tags: boxing image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by 5burowz on 04-13-2018

what flavor ice cream did he have?

Comment by Santa_ on 04-13-2018

[IMG]https://image.ibb.co/ni2X7S/ezgif_3_c5aa92c06d.gif[/IMG]

Comment by 1hourRun on 04-13-2018

YO PAULIE! Your sistas with me, I'll calls U's back lata, cya!

Comment by La_Vibora on 04-13-2018

[QUOTE=Lemonhead_Jeff;18666951]I was also undefeated under a number of different aliases before. That was the silliest thing I've read today. He went 17-0, and his manager, Cus D'amato, kept allowing him to change his alias? Why? Maybe he changed his name…

Comment by Gigantes on 04-13-2018

I had a patient who was a movie director and directed a couple of movies with Burt in it. He told me Burt was one tough sob. Also always came to work drunk (no wonder he played Paulie so good).…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (22)
Top Headlines Harrison Says Stamina Issues Are Solved as Charlo Fight Nears Wilder: Joshua Skipped Fury Fight To Avoid 'Hard Questions' Jermall Charlo: Canelo is Scared. Where Are You At, Cinnamon? Sulaiman: I'm Certain Joshua Will Eventually Fight For WBC Title Lamont Roach Ready For Title Shot After Beating Mercado Rances Barthelemy Feels Rejuvenated Under Joel Casamayor Joseph Parker: We Wanted To End The Year With a Bang Canelo Could Headline in Mexico in 2019, Says De La Hoya Saunders Credits Tyson Fury With Getting Him Back on Track The Night Canelo and DAZN Took Over New York Joshua: I'm Hungry To Be Undisputed - So I am Begging Wilder Jarrell Miller: Sooner or Later, I'll Punch Joshua in The Face Farmer: Time For Gervonta To Get Active - Then Come See Me Canelo: We Knew Rocky Fielding Was Weak To The Body De La Hoya: Everyone, Even Joshua, Wants To Fight Canelo Rocky Fielding: Speed, Timing, Power - Canelo Has Everything Photos: Manny Pacquiao Gives Away 2,000 Bags of Groceries Artem Dalakian Looks To Bigger Things After KO of Lebron Mares calls Gary Russell best at 126 over Santa Cruz, Frampton David Benavidez: I Know I Have What it Takes To Beat Canelo! Video: Anthony Joshua Speaks To Fielding Following KO Loss Video: Eddie Hearn Reacts To Canelo's KO of Fielding Video: Bernard Hopkins Reacts To Canelo's KO of Fielding Joshua Warns Miller That He Won't Tolerate His Trash Talk Munguia Signs With Golden Boy & DAZN; Will Fight Inoue 1/26 Ryan Garcia: I Wanted To Show That I Can Fight, That I'm For Real Sadam Ali: I Didn't Look Good, Herrera Made Me Look Terrible De La Hoya: Canelo Showed That He Can Fight at 160 or 168 Photos: Canelo Alvarez Demolishes Fielding - MONSTER Gallery Photos: Sadam Ali Back at 147, Defeats Mauricio Herrera Photos: Tevin Farmer Decisions Fonseca To Retain IBF Title Photos: Katie Taylor Proves Too Much For Eva Wahlstrom Zerafa: I Should've Let Hands Go When Kell Brook Was Hurt Hurd-Charlo Unification in 2019 if They Beat Williams, Harrison Dennis Hogan, Bilal Akkawy, Artem Dalakian Get Big Wins Rocky Fielding: Canelo Has The Power To Face Anyone at 168 Jacobs: With Lemieux Out, Stronger Possibility I'll Face Canelo Canelo Open To The Idea of Third Golovkin Fight Canelo Destroys Rocky Fielding in Three For WBA Title Canelo vs. Fielding - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement