Everything about Burt Young – A Professional Boxer, Actor and Painter

By | April 20, 2024

Burt Young was a professional American actor. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for the portrayal of Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law, Paulie Pennino, in the first installment of the Rocky film series.

He appeared in many films, such as Chinatown (1974), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Back to School (1986), Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990), Win Win (2011), and Bottom of the 9th (2019).

Burt Young, a popular American actor

Burt Young, a popular American actor

Early Life

Burt Young's birth name was Gerald Tommaso DeLouise. He was born on April 30, 1940, in Queens, New York. His parents were Michael and Josephine DeLouise.

Burt spent most of his growing years on the streets of Corona, Queens, which influenced most of his roles later. His father sent him to Bryant High School in Astoria to keep him away from his street pals. However, Burt would only stay in school briefly, dropping out after his first term.

Acting Career

Burt served a tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1957 to 1959. After leaving the Marine Corps, he joined the Actors Studio, where Lee Strasberg, a renowned acting teacher, trained him in dramatic acts. His favorite roles were those that portrayed a struggling working-class man or a tough guy in the mob.

Burt forayed as "Gimpy" in his first film, "Carnival of Blood," in 1970. However, his role in the 1976 movie series "Rocky" is what made him famous. Burt was 36 years old when he acted in "Rocky." He earned an Oscar Nomination for his role as "Paulie Pennino," Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law and best friend.

Burt Young and Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V

Burt Young and Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V

Paulie Pennino, Burt Young's character, was a meat packer. He featured in all six movies of the "Rocky" series and was the only actor to achieve this. The series "Rocky" was nominated for ten Oscars but won three only.

Despite his thug roles in most movies, Burt had a humble, down-to-earth character. Before becoming an actor, he was a carpet layer and professional boxer.

Best Movies

Burt did 160+ movies and television shows in total. He featured in many other movies apart from the "Rocky" franchise. A list of his famous films includes:

Burt Young acted in Carnival of Blood, Chinatown, and many movies

Burt Young acted in Carnival of Blood, Chinatown, and many movies

  • Carnival of Blood (1970)
  • Across 110th Street (1972)
  • Chinatown (1974) - Nominated for Best Picture Award
  • The Killer Elite (1975)
  • Convoy (1978)
  • Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
  • Over the Brooklyn Bridge (1984)
  • Back to School (1986)
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990)
  • The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
  • Win Win (2011)

Besides acting in movies, Burt won a role in season three of "The Sopranos" in 2001. His character was that of an elderly mafioso with lung cancer. The character manages to pull off the last job in the program before dying in an accident caused by a coughing fit. Burt plays Bobby Baccalieri, Sr.

The actor was also a guest star in television shows "The Equalizer," "Miami Vice," and "Law & Order."

Boxing Career

Burt started boxing from 1957-1959 in the United States Marine Corps. He joined the Marines at 15 after dropping out of school. According to Burt, he had won 26 knockouts in 32 matches while in the Marines.

Boxing was more than a hobby for Burt Young, as he won 14 professional boxing matches. He also played a friendly boxing match for charity against the legendary Mohammed Ali.

Burt Young was also a professional boxer

Burt Young was also a professional boxer

Burt once trained under Cus D'Amato (Floyd Patterson's and Mike Tyson's trainer). However, when Burt started acting, he gave up his boxing gloves. He decided to pursue acting because he did not earn much as a professional pugile (the Italian name for a boxer).

Painting Career

Burt started painting during childhood. But only when his acting life slowed down in his later years could he fully pursue painting. Most of his paintings are on display in galleries worldwide.

Some of his paintings appeared in "Rocky," in the scene where Paulie gets fired from his meatpacking job.

Burt had an art studio (Port Washington) with several paintings, including some boxers sparring in the boxing ring. He designed the cover for Gabriele Tinti's poetry collection and the illustrations for the art book "A Man."

Personal Life

Burt married Gloria DeLouise on May 20, 1961. Gloria's maiden name was Domina, and she was born in 1941 in New York. She is said to have attended a strict catholic school and grew up among several siblings and cousins in an American-Italian family.

After her marriage to Burt in 1961, they settled in a small apartment in Queens. She had a great passion for acting and entertainment. She featured in the movie Across 110th Street (1972) and Uncle Joe Shannon (1978).

As a wife, Gloria supported her husband, Burt, who often struggled with depression and alcoholism. Unfortunately, Gloria died in 1974. Burt frequently credited his late wife's support in most of his interviews.

The actual cause of Gloria's death remains unconfirmed. Burt was heartbroken, and he decided to raise his daughter alone. In his memoir (Catcher in a Dress), Burt describes Gloria as the "most beautiful woman I ever saw."

Burt Young's daughter is Anne Morea Steingieser. She was born in 1969 in New York City. She was brought up in Burt's Port Washington, New York house. After his wife's death, Burt did not remarry, bringing up Anne as an only child.

Burt Young with daughter Anne Morea

Burt Young with daughter Anne Morea

Anne is in the entertainment industry, just like her parents. She has starred as an actress in movies such as "The Deli" (1979) and "Blue Moon" (2000). She was also the co-producer in some of her father's films.

Anne, being an only child, was close to her father and became a painter and writer. However, she is very private with her life. She gave birth to her son (Michael) in the early 1990s, Burt's only grandchild.

Death

Burt succumbed to death on October 8, 2023, at Northbridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 83. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.

Sylvester Stallone paid a tribute to Burt Young several days after his death. He is survived by his daughter, Anne, grandson, and brother, Robert.

At the time of his death in 2023, Burt had a net worth of $2 million. A massive chunk of his income came from acting, as most of the films and television shows he featured in made millions. He was the most highly-paid actor in the first series of "Rocky."

Burt also made money as a writer, painter, and director. He was an author and published a 400-page novel called "Endings." He also wrote and directed two screenplays.

Burt's endorsements of various products and services earned him a tidy sum. His fame as a reputable actor and filmmaker made various brands seek Burt for endorsements. These deals further boosted his net worth.

Burt was a co-partner in a Bronx, New York restaurant. The name of the restaurant was Burt Young's II Boschetto Italian Ristorante. While it did well serving Italian cuisine, interviews suggest Burt gained little from the restaurant.

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