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'Everybody Loves Raymond' Actor Peter Boyle


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'Everybody Loves Raymond' Actor Peter Boyle

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Peter Boyle

LOS ANGELES, California -- Peter Boyle, the tall, prematurely bald actor who was the tap-dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" and the curmudgeonly father in the long-running sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond," died on Tuesday, December 12 at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was 71. His publicist, Jennifer Plante, said Boyle had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease.

A Christian Brothers monk who turned to acting, Boyle gained notice playing an angry workingman in the Vietnam-era hit "Joe." But he overcome typecasting when he took on the role of the hulking, lab-created monster in "Young Frankenstein," Mel Brooks' 1974 send-up of horror films.

The movie's defining moment came when Gene Wilder, as scientist Frederick Frankenstein, introduced his creation to an upscale audience. Boyle, decked out in tails, performed a song-and-dance routine to the Irving Berlin classic, "Puttin' On the Ritz."

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Peter Boyle in 'Young Frankenstein'

It showed another side of the Emmy-winning actor, one that would be exploited in countless other films and perhaps best in "Everybody Loves Raymond," in which he played incorrigible paterfamilias Frank Barone for 10 years.

"He's just obnoxious in a nice way, just for laughs," he said of the character in a 2001 interview. "It's a very sweet experience having this happen at a time when you basically go back over your life and see every mistake you ever made."

When Boyle tried out for the role opposite series star Ray Romano's Ray Barone, however, he was kept waiting for his audition -- and he was not happy. "He came in all hot and angry," recalled the show's creator, Phil Rosenthal, "and I hired him because I was afraid of him." But Rosenthal also noted: "I knew right away that he had a comic presence."

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Peter Boyle as the surly Frank Barone

in 'Everybody Loves Raymond'

Boyle first came to the public's attention more than a quarter century before. "Joe" was a sleeper hit in which he portrayed the title role, an angry, murderous bigot at odds with the era's emerging hippie youth culture.

Although critically acclaimed, he faced being categorized as someone who played tough, angry types. He broke free of that to some degree as Robert Redford's campaign manager in "The Candidate," and shed it entirely in "Young Frankenstein."

The latter film also led to the actor meeting his wife, Loraine Alterman, who visited the set as a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine. Boyle, still in his monster makeup, quickly asked her for a date. He went on to appear in dozens of films and to star in "Joe Bash," an acclaimed but short-lived 1986 "dramedy" in which he played a lonely beat cop.

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Peter Boyle in 'Conspiracy: Trial of the Chicago 8'

Boyle won an Emmy in 1996 for his guest-starring role in an episode of "The X Files," and he was nominated for "Everybody Loves Raymond" and for the 1977 TV film "Tail Gunner Joe," in which he played Senator Joseph McCarthy.

In the 1976 film, "Taxi Driver," he was the cabbie-philosopher Wizard, who counseled Robert DeNiro's violent Travis Bickle. In the 0000 film, "Conspiracy: Trial of the Chicago 8," Boyle portrayed activist David Dellinger.

In a charming turn as Sandra Bullock's future father-in-law, Boyle delighted in the 0000 film, "While You Were Sleeping." Other notable films included "T.R. Baskin," "F.I.S.T.," "Johnny Dangerously," "The Dream Team," "The Santa Claus," "The Santa Claus 2" and "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed."

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Peter Boyle

Educated in Roman Catholic schools in Philadelphia, Boyle would spend three years in a monastery before abandoning his studies there. He later described the experience as similar to "living in the Middle Ages." He explained his decision to leave in 1991: "I felt the call for awhile; then I felt the normal pull of the world and the flesh."

He traveled to New York to study with Uta Hagen, supporting himself for five years with various jobs, including postal worker, waiter, maitre d' and office temp. Finally, he was cast in a road company version of "The Odd Couple." When the play reached Chicago he quit to study with that city's famed improvisational troupe, Second City.

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Lorraine and Peter Boyle

Upon returning to New York, he began to land roles in TV commercials, off-Broadway plays and finally films. Through Alterman, a friend of Yoko Ono, the actor became close friends with John Lennon. "We were both seekers after a truth, looking for a quick way to enlightenment," Boyle once said of Lennon, who was best man at his wedding.

In 1990, Boyle suffered a stroke and couldn't talk for six months. In 1999, he had a heart attack on the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He soon regained his health, however, and returned to the series. Despite his work in 'Raymond' and other Hollywood productions, Boyle made New York City his home.

Boyle is survived by his wife of 29 years, Loraine Alterman and two daughters, Lucy and Amy.

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