Actor Peter Boyle died yesterday, December 12, 2006. He had been suffering from both heart disease and multiple myeloma. While many today best know Boyle as Raymond's father Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, he had a long and distinguished career that included such films as The Candidate, Young Frankenstein, and Taxi Driver.
Boyle was born in Philadelphia on October 18, 1935. His father, Peter Boyle Sr., was the host of a popular chlidren's programme (Lunch with Uncle Pete) in the Philadelphia area. Following his graduation from LaSalle University, Boyle took some time to find his place in the world. He enlisted in the Navy and after his graduation from Officer Candidate School was commissioned as an ensign. His naval career was ended by a nervous breakdown. Boyle then became a member of the De La Salle Brothers, a Catholic teaching order. He left the order to take up acting. His first screen appearance was in an uncredited part in The Group in 1966.
Boyle played in bits part and was part of the ensemble of the TV series Comedy Tonight before receiving his first starring role in the movie Joe. The film, in which Boyle played a bigoted foundry worker, typecast Boyle in rough, angry roles for much of his early career. Fortunately, his role as the campaign manager of Robert Redford in The Candidate proved he had a greater range than of irate men. His role Young Frankenstein as a new Frankenstein's monster proved once and for all that Boyle was capable of much, much more. Playing a creature who could barely talk, Boyle showed he had a gift for comedy as well as drama.
Boyle would go onto play roles in Taxi Driver, The Brink's Job, Swashbuckler, Turk 182, Malcolm X, and Monster's Ball. He also appeared on television. He hosted Saturday Night Live and starred in his own series Joe Bash, a short lived dramedy from 1986. He appeared in the TV movie Tailgunner Joe as Senator Joe McCarthy and in the mini-series From Here to Eternity. He guest starred on such shows as Midnight Caller and N.Y.P.D. Blue. He made a notable guest appearance in The X-Files episode Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," in which he played the title character, a man cursed with the ability to foresee the future. For this role Boyle won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. Of course, in 1996 he was cast in the role of Frank Barone, Raymond's father on Everybody Loves Raymond. Ironically, although nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series seven years in a row, Boyle was the only member of the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond who did not win an Emmy for his role on the show.
Peter Boyle was also a close friend of John Lennon, whom he had met through his future wife Lorraine Alterman, at the time a reporter for Rolling Stone. Lennon would even be the best man at Boyle's wedding to Lorraine.
I must say that I am truly saddened by Peter Boyle's death. While many people may be mourning him as Raymond's father on Everybody Loves Raymond, I am mourning Boyle as the talented actor who played in such diverse movies as Young Frankenstein, Taxi Driver, Where the Buffalo Roam, and Honeymoon in Vegas. He was an adept actor at home in both drama and comedy. He could convincingly play a murderous bigot in a movie like Joe and then turn around and take a comic turn as Bosun Moon in the movie Yellowbeard. Boyle certainly had great talent, talent that allowed him to play a diverse array of roles in any number of different genres. I have to say that I will really miss him.