December 25, 2006 by

Peter Boyle

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Categories: Actors

pboyle.jpgPeter Lawrence Boyle, an Emmy Award-winning actor known for playing racists, monsters and curmudgeonly fathers, died on Dec. 12 from multiple myeloma and heart disease. He was 71.
Born in Northtown, Pa., he was the son of Francis “Pete” Boyle, a local TV personality and host of the 1950’s children’s show “Lunch With Uncle Pete.” Educated in Roman Catholic schools, Boyle planned to dedicate his entire life to serving God. He spent three years in a monastery as Brother Francis, an experience he later described as something akin to “living in the Middle Ages,” but left the Christian Brothers order after feeling “the normal pull of the world and the flesh.”
Boyle moved to New York City in 1957 to become a professional actor. While studying drama with Tony Award-winning actress and acting coach Uta Hagen, he supported himself by working as a waiter, maitre d’, postal worker, bouncer and office temp. After five years of classes and numerous appearances in off-Broadway shows, Boyle landed the role of Murray the cop in a touring company version of “The Odd Couple.” Yet when the play reached Chicago, he dropped out and joined the famed improvisational comedy troupe Second City. This decision brought him to the attention of Paul Sills, the founder of Second City, who later cast Boyle in the Broadway show “Story Theatre.”
Boyle appeared in numerous plays and TV commercials before jumping to the silver screen. There he gained notice in the 1970s, first as an alcoholic, murderous bigot in the sleeper hit “Joe,” then as Robert Redford’s campaign manager in “The Candidate.” Boyle became a star, however, when he played the monster in Mel Brooks’ black-and-white horror spoof, “Young Frankenstein.” The scene where mad scientist Frederick Frankenstein (played by Gene Wilder) performed a song-and-dance routine to “Puttin’ On the Ritz” with his creation helped the movie achieve cult status. The American Film Institute ranked “Young Frankenstein” at number 13 on its list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time.
Boyle met his future wife, Loraine Alterman, on the set of “Young Frankenstein.” Even though he was still wearing his monster makeup, Boyle immediately asked the reporter from Rolling Stone magazine out on a date. Through Alterman, Boyle became close friends with another famous couple: Yoko Ono and ex-Beatle John Lennon. Lennon served as best man at Peter and Loraine’s wedding in 1977.
For the next three decades, Boyle appeared in dozens of films, including “Taxi Driver,” “Red Heat,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Malcolm X,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Monster’s Ball” and all three of the “Santa Clause” pictures. He played Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1977 TV movie “Tail Gunner Joe,” and starred in the short-lived 1986 dramedy “Joe Bash,” as a lonely beat cop.
Boyle’s work found favor with critics and colleagues in 1996 when he took home an Emmy Award for his guest-starring role as a psychic in an episode of “The X-Files.” But it was his portrayal of Frank Barone, the grouchy paterfamilias of the popular CBS comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” that earned him seven Emmy nominations and the affections of millions of fans. Boyle appeared on the series for 10 years, despite suffering a heart attack on the set in 1999.
Described by friends as compassionate and thoughtful, Boyle listed his favorite hobby on the “Everybody Loves Raymond” Website as: “Contemplation.”
“He was a gentle, bright, brilliant actor with great sensibility and caring about the world and was very committed and was a wonderful humanitarian,” said actress Doris Roberts, who played Boyle’s wife Marie on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

One Response to Peter Boyle

  1. janara jenkins

    I REALLY JUST LOVED MR PETER BOYLE ON EVERYBODY LOVES RAMON, THEY REMIND ME OF ME AND MY FAMILY WHO I COULD NEVER PICTURE MYSELF LIVING NEXT DOOR OR ACROO THE SREET FROM. I’M GOING TO TRULY MISS HIM HE SEEMED LIKE A SWEET HEART GOD BE WITH HIM AN HIS FAMILY HE IS GONE TO A BETTER PLACE. GOD BLESS.
    MS. JANARA JENKINS FROM MILWAUKEE WI.

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