HOLLYWOOD – Peter Boyle, who made an indelible mark in comedy by donning a top hat and tails and performing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as the hulking monster in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” and later gained his most enduring fame as the scrappy father on the popular sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” has died. He was 71.
Boyle, who was also a critically acclaimed dramatic actor, died Tuesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital after a battle with multiple myeloma and heart disease.
From 1996 to 2005, Boyle played the hilariously obnoxious Frank Barone opposite Doris Roberts’ Marie Barone, Ray Romano’s bickering and overbearing parents in “Everybody Loves Raymond” – a role for which he received seven Emmy nominations.
In a 1999 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Boyle said he found playing his character on the series “very gratifying.”
“(Fans say) ‘You’re just like my father,’ ” he said. The Barones “are people you know and the way people really are on the other side of the TV set – not behind the TV set, but in front of it.”
Equally at home in comedy and drama, Boyle appeared in dozens of films, including playing Robert Redford’s campaign manager in “The Candidate,” Robert De Niro’s fellow cab driver Wizard in “Taxi Driver” and Billy Bob Thornton’s racist father in “Monster’s Ball.”
“When I was in high school I wanted to be a leading man guy, like Howard Keel,” Boyle told the Associated Press in 2001. “But then God saw fit to take the hair off my head at age 24.”
Boyle had his breakthrough movie role playing the title character in the unexpected hit “Joe,” a 1970 drama in which he delivered a chilling performance as a murderously bigoted hard-hat from Queens.
In the wake of his critical success in “Joe,” Boyle feared being typecast in similarly violent roles and turned down the starring role of Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle in the 1971 film “The French Connection.”
Boyle’s concerns about being typecast were blown away with his performance as the monster in Brooks’ hit 1974 horror-movie spoof “Young Frankenstein,” starring Gene Wilder. As the monster, critic Roger Ebert wrote, Boyle “somehow manages to be hilarious and pathetic at the same time.”
While making “Young Frankenstein,” Boyle met Rolling Stone magazine reporter Loraine Alterman, who was doing a story on Brooks. Through Alterman, a friend of Yoko Ono’s, Boyle met John Lennon, who served as best man when he and Alterman were married in 1977.