Emmy Winner Peter Boyle Passes
Beloved Raymond Star Was 71
Emmy winner Peter Boyle, pictured here at the 57th Annual Primetime Emmys Governor’s Ball.
New York, NY - Actor Peter Boyle, who shed an early reputation for playing aggressive, angry characters to become a comedic star in the 1974 film Young Frankenstein and the long-running television series Everybody Loves Raymond, died Tuesday evening at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Boyle, who had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease, was 71 years old.
Boyle turned to acting after spending three years in a Christian Brothers monastery, which he once likened to “living in the Middle Ages.” He eventually yielded to the pull of the mainstream world and moved to New York from his native Philadelphia, where he graduated from La Salle University, to pursue an acting career.
He studied with renowned drama teacher Uta Hagen, and spent five years working a variety of odd jobs before he was cast in a road company version of playwright Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. When the production reached Chicago, Boyle quit to study with that city’s famed improvisational troupe Second City.
He later returned to New York, where he found work in television commercials, off-Broadway plays and, later, feature films.
Boyle first drew notice as the title character in the 1970 movie Joe, about a bigoted factory worker who rails against minorities and the Vietnam-era counterculture. The explosive performance earned critical acclaim, but cut so close to the bone that for a time Boyle found himself typecast as a rage-fueled heavy.
He slowly distanced himself from that image two years later with the role of Robert Redford’s campaign manager in The Candidate, and shook it entirely in Young Frankenstein. In the classic 1974 comedic retelling of the Frankenstein story, directed by Mel Brooks, Boyle starred as the physically intimidating but ultimately sweet-hearted monster created in a laboratory by Gene Wilder’s obsessive scientist.
|Peter Boyle and family arrive at the 2006 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony.|
Young Frankenstein was also notable for a significant personal milestone. While he was working on the film, Boyle met Loraine Alterman, who visited the set as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine. While still in his monster makeup, he asked her for a date. They later married, and remained together until his death.
Through Alterman, who was a friend of Yoko Ono, Boyle became close to music legend John Lennon, who served as best man at his 1977 wedding.
Boyle’s other notable films include Taxi Driver, in which he portrayed Wizard, the philosophical cabbie who tries to counsel Robert DeNiro’s violent Travis Bickle.
He also appeared in Crazy Joe, T.R. Baskin, F.I.S.T., Johnny Dangerously, The Dream Team, Malcolm X, The Santa Clause and its two sequels, While You Were Sleeping, Monster’s Ball and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
Boyle began appearing in television early in his career, and over the years starred in such TV movies as Tail Gunner Joe (for which he was nominated for an Emmy) and Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8.
He also had guest roles in such network series as Cagney and Lacey, Midnight Caller (which also earned him an Emmy nomination) Flying Blind, The King of Queens, NYPD Blue and The X-Files, for which he won an Emmy for his performance as an insurance salesman who can see into the future. As a series regular, Boyle starred as a lonely beat cop in Joe Bash, a critically heralded but short-lived 1986 hybrid of comedy and drama.
He left his mark on the medium as Frank Barone, the cantankerous patriarch in the CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which aired from 1996 to 2005, and for which he earned seven Emmy nominations. Although he was the only main cast member who did not win an Emmy, Boyle minted the series’ lone catch phrase, “Holy crap!”
Boyle had on occasion been beset by health problems. In 1990, he suffered a stroke and could not talk for six months. In 1999, he had a heart attack on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond, but soon regained his health and returned to the series.
He is survived by his wife and two daughters, Lucy and Amy.
Archive of American Television Interview with Peter Boyle
On November 8, 2005, Boyle was interviewed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s Archive of American Television. During the one-and-a-half hour interview, Boyle reminisced about growing up in Philadelphia, where his father performed on local children’s television shows. He also described the brief tenure he spent as a monk, before embarking on his acting studies with Uta Hagen.
He outlined his early career in improv comedy and in films including Joe and Young Frankenstein. In addition, he discussed his work in the TV movie Tail Gunner Joe, as well as his acclaimed work on NYPD Blue and The X-Files. He then went into detail about Everybody Loves Raymond. He described the audition experience, his character Frank Barone, his co-stars and various key episodes of the series.
The complete Peter Boyle interview is available for viewing at the AAT office, located on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences plaza in North Hollywood. Contact the Television Archive at (818) 754-2800 for more information.
To learn more about the life and works of Peter Boyle online, please
visit the Archive of American Television Update blog.