Sylvester Stallone shared an emotional tribute to his friend Burt Young, who died earlier this month at age 83.
“To my Dear Friend, BURT YOUNG, you were an incredible man and artist,” Stallone, 77, wrote via Instagram on Thursday, October 19. “I and the World will miss you very much … RIP.”
Stallone’s upload included a throwback photo of the pair in the original Rocky, which hit theaters in 1976. Young played Paulie Pennino, the best friend of Rocky Balboa (Stallone) and older brother of Adrian (Talia Shire). His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor at the 1977 Oscars. Young reprised the role in all five of the franchise’s sequels, most recently in 2006’s Rocky Balboa.
Young’s daughter, Anne Morea Steingieser, confirmed her father’s death on Wednesday, October 18, noting that he died in Los Angeles on October 8. A cause of death was not immediately revealed.
After news of Young’s death was made public, plenty of other celebrities — including Rocky star Carl Weathers — paid tribute to the late star. “RIP, Burt Young! A beautiful and talented soul,” Weathers — who played Rocky’s rival Apollo Creed — tweeted on Wednesday. “He was such an integral part of the Rocky family. ‘You want the bird? Go get the bird.’ Paulie will be with us forever!”
In addition to playing Paulie in the Rocky franchise, Young starred in Chinatown, Once Upon a Time in America, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Mickey Blue Eyes, Win Win and Transamerica. He also appeared on The Sopranos as the father of Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa) and had a recurring role in season 2 of Russian Doll alongside Natasha Lyonne.
In 2016, Young received a lifetime achievement award at the Long Beach International Film Festival. Stallone celebrated his friend’s achievement with a prerecorded message that played at the event.
“I was very lucky to meet Burt Young in 1975 because this man is an anomaly — incredibly strong, brave, worldly, intelligent, artistic and insightful,” Stallone said. “I guess that would certify him as a renaissance man.”
Stallone went on to say that he believes Young should have won an Oscar for Rocky. “It was amazing,” recalled Stallone, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. “He would pull me aside and make suggestions. And he was very intuitive about dialogue and how to make the scene better. And he just brought an originality and a pacing — a verbalization, the way he phrased sentences that caused me to go home and rewrite everything. I just wanted to be the guy lucky enough to capture the essence of Burt Young on film, and I believe we did that for many, many years.”