Burt Young, ‘Rocky’ actor who played tough, complex guys, dies at 83 | ET REALITY


Growing up in a working-class neighborhood in the Corona section of Queens, Mr. Young had an early taste for the streets. “My dad, trying to make me a kindest childsent me to Bryant High School in Astoria, far from my friends in Corona,” he wrote in the foreword to “Corona: The Early Years” (2015), by Jason D. Antos and Constantine E. Theodosiou.

“Soon, however, I was expelled and went to St. Ann’s Academy in Manhattan, where I was expelled after one semester,” he continued. “Finally, it was the Marines at 16, my father lied about my age to let me join.”

He began boxing in the Marine Corps and had a successful, though relatively brief, professional career under Cus D’Amato, the boxing trainer and manager who guided the careers of Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson. He had a win-loss record of approximately 17-1 (his own accounts of him varied) when he left the ring.

In his mid-twenties, he was laying carpets and doing other odd jobs when he fell in love with a woman tending bar who told him she dreamed of studying acting with Mr. Strasberg. “I didn’t know who Lee Strasberg was,” he told Bright Lights. “I thought he was a girl.”

Mr. Young arranged a meeting for the two of them with Mr. Strasberg, the father of method acting, and ended up studying with him for two years. “The performance had everything I was looking for,” he recalled. “In my life until then, I had used tension to stay upright. The great gift that Lee gave me was relaxation.”

His many other film credits ranged from “Last Exit to Brooklyn” (1989), a harrowing adaptation of Hubert Selby Jr.’s scandalous 1964 novel about the lost souls of mid-century Brooklyn, to the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy “Back to School”. .” Young also wrote and starred in “Uncle Joe Shannon” (1978), the story of a jazz trumpeter whose life implodes before he finds redemption.

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