Burt Young, ‘Rocky’ actor who played complicated tough guys, dies at 83

Raised in a working-class neighborhood in the Corona section of Queens, Mr. Young got an early taste of the streets. “My father is trying to make me Gentle child“Corona took me away from my friends and sent me to Bryant High School in Astoria,” he wrote in the foreword to “Corona: The Early Years” (2015) by Jason D. Antos and Constantine E. Theodosio.

“However, I was soon expelled and went to St. Anne’s Academy in Manhattan, initiated after one term,” he continued. “Finally, it’s the Marines at 16, and my pop is beating my age to get me in.”

He began boxing in the Marine Corps and went on to a relatively brief, successful professional career under Gus D’Amato, the boxing trainer and manager who shepherded the careers of Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson. When he left the ring, he had a win-loss record of about 17-1 – his own accounts differed.

In his late 20s, he was rolling carpets and doing other odd jobs when he became infatuated with a woman who kept a bar, and he met Mr. She told him she dreamed of studying acting with Strasberg. “I don’t know who Lee Strasberg is,” he told Bright Lights. “I thought I was a girl.”

The father of acting Mr. Strasberg with Mr. Young arranged a meeting for the two of them and ended up studying with him for two years. “Acting was everything I fished for,” he recalls. “Until then in my life, I used tension to keep myself upright. Lee’s greatest gift to me was relaxation.

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His many film credits include “Last Exit to Brooklyn” (1989), an adaptation of the scandalous 1964 novel by Hubert Selby Jr., about lost souls from the underbelly of midcentury Brooklyn, and the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy “Back to School.” Mr. Young wrote and starred in “Uncle Joe Shannon” (1978), the story of a jazz trumpeter whose career implodes before he can find redemption.

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