Peter Lawrence Boyle (October 18, 1935 – December 12, 2006) was an Emmy Award-winning American actor known for his role as Frank Barone on the 1996-2005 CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and as a singing and dancing Frankenstein’s Monster in the writer-director Mel Brooks’ film spoof Young Frankenstein (1974). Boyle, who won an Emmy Award in 1996 for a guest-starring role on the science-fiction drama The X-Files, won praise in both comedic and dramatic parts following his breakthrough performance in the 1970 film Joe.
Death of Peter Boyle
On December 12, 2006, Boyle died in New York City at New York Presbyterian Hospital after suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease; he was 71. At the time of his death, Boyle had completed the film All Roads Lead Home and was scheduled to appear in Chatham. The end credits of The Santa Clause 3 include a dedication to his memory.
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Peter Boyle as A Monster
Early life and career
Boyle was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania of Irish descent, the son of Alice and Peter Boyle, Sr. He moved with his family to nearby Philadelphia. His father was a Philadelphia TV personality from 1951-1963 who, among many other things, played the Western-show host Chuck Wagon Pete, and hosted the afterschool children’s program Uncle Pete Presents the Little Rascals, which showed vintage Little Rascals and Three Stooges comedy shorts and Popeye cartoons.
Boyle attended St. Francis de Sales school and West Philadelphia Catholic High School. After high school Boyle spent three years as a novice of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or De La Salle Brothers, a Catholic teaching order. He lived in a house of studies with other novices and earned a BA from La Salle University in Philadelphia in 1957, but left the order because he did not feel called to religious life. While in Philadelphia, he worked as a cameraman on the cooking show Television Kitchen, hosted by Florence Hanford.
After graduating from Officer Candidate School in 1959, he was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy, but his military career was shortened by a nervous breakdown.
In New York City, Boyle studied with acting coach Uta Hagen while working as a postal clerk and a maitre d’. He went on to play Murray the cop in a touring company of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, leaving the tour in Chicago, Illinois and joining The Second City improv comedy ensemble there. He had a brief scene as the manager of an indoor shooting range in the critically acclaimed 1969 film Medium Cool, filmed in Chicago.
Screen and theater
Boyle gained acclaim for his first starring role, playing the title character, a bigoted New York City factory worker, in the 1970 movie Joe. The film’s release was surrounded by controversy over its violence and language. It was during this time that Boyle became close friends with the actress Jane Fonda, and with her he participated in many protests against the Vietnam War. After seeing people cheer at his role in Joe, Boyle refused the lead role in The French Connection (1971), as well as other movie and TV roles that he believed glamorized violence. His next major role was as the campaign manager for a U.S. Senate candidate (Robert Redford) in The Candidate (1972). He also played an Irish mobster opposite Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973).
Boyle had another hit role as Frankenstein’s monster in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein, in which, in an homage to King Kong, the monster is placed onstage in top hat and tails, grunt-singing and dancing to the song "Puttin’ on the Ritz". Boyle said at the time, "The Frankenstein monster I play is a baby. He’s big and ugly and scary, but he’s just been born, remember, and it’s been traumatic, and to him the whole world is a brand new alien environment. That’s how I’m playing it". Boyle met his wife, Loraien Alterman, on the set of Young Frankenstein while she was there as a reporter for Rolling Stone. He was still in his Frankenstein makeup when he asked her for a date. Through Alterman and her friend Yoko Ono, Boyle became friends with John Lennon, who was the best man at Boyle and Alterman’s 1977 wedding. Boyle and his wife have two daughters, Lucy and Amy.
Boyle received his first Emmy nomination for his acclaimed dramatic performance in the 1977 television film Tail Gunner Joe, in which he played Senator Joseph McCarthy. Yet he was more often cast as a character actor than as a leading man.
His roles include the philosophical cab driver "Wizard" in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), starring Robert De Niro; the attorney of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (played by Bill Murray) in Where the Buffalo Roam (1980); a corrupt space mining-facility boss in the science-fiction film Outland (1981), opposite Sean Connery; Boatswain Moon in the 1983 pirate comedy Yellowbeard, also starring Cheech and Chong, Madeline Kahn, and members of the comedy troupe Monty Python’s Flying Circus; a mental patient who belts out a Ray Charles song in the comedy The Dream Team (1989), starring Michael Keaton; the title character’s cab driver in The Shadow (1994), starring Alec Baldwin; the father of Sandra Bullock’s fiancee in While You Were Sleeping (1995); the hateful father of Billy Bob Thornton’s prison-guard character in Monster’s Ball (2001); and Old Man Wickles in the comedy Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). In cameo roles, he can be seen as a tough police officer in Malcolm X (1992), and as a drawbridge operator in Porky’s Revenge (1985). In 1992, he starred in Alex Cox’s Death and the Compass, an adaptation of Jorge Luis Borges’ La Muerte y la Brujula. However, the film was not released until 1996.
His New York theater work included playing a comedian who is the object of The Roast, a 1980 Broadway play directed by Carl Reiner. Also in 1980 he co-starred with Tommy Lee Jones in an Off-Broadway production of playwright Sam Shepard’s acclaimed True West. Two years later, Boyle played the head of a dysfunctional family in Joe Pintauro’s less well-received Snow Orchid, at the Circle Repertory.
In 1986, Boyle played the title role of the acclaimed but short-lived TV series Joe Bash, created by Danny Arnold. The comedy-drama followed the life of a lonely, world-weary, and sometimes compromised New York City beat cop whose closest friend was a prostitute, played by actress DeLane Matthews.
Later life and career
In 1990, Boyle suffered a stroke that rendered him speechless for six months. After recovering, he went on to win an Emmy Award in 1996 as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his appearance on The X-Files. In the episode, "Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose", he played an insurance salesman who can see selected things in the near future, particularly others’ deaths. Boyle also guest starred in two episodes as Bill Church in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He appears in Sony Music’s unaired Roger Waters’ music video "Three Wishes" (1992) as a scruffy genie in a dirty coat and red scarf, who tries to tempt Waters at a desert diner.
Boyle was perhaps most widely known for his role as the deadpan, cranky Frank Barone in the popular CBS television sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which aired from 1996 to 2005. The show was shot in Los Angeles, to which Boyle commuted from his New York City home. He was nominated for an Emmy seven times for this role, but never won (beaten out multiple times in the Supporting Actor category by his co-star Brad Garrett), though fellow co-stars Garrett, Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, and Boyle’s TV wife Doris Roberts won at least one Emmy each for their performances.
In 1999, he had a heart attack on the set of Everybody Loves Raymond. He soon regained his health and returned to the series. In 2001, he appeared in the Academy Award winning feature Monster’s Ball as the bigoted father of Billy Bob Thornton’s character.
Introduced by comedian Carlos Mencia as "the most honest man in show business", Boyle made guest appearances on three episodes of the Comedy Central program Mind of Mencia — one of which was shown as a tribute in a segment made before Boyle’s death — in which he read hate mail, explained the "hidden meanings" behind bumper stickers, and occasionally told Mencia how he felt about him.
Starting in late 2005, Boyle and former TV wife Roberts appeared in TV commercials for the 75th anniversary of Alka-Seltzer, reprising the famous line, "I can’t believe I ate that whole thing!" Although this quote has entered into popular culture, it is often misquoted as, "…the whole thing." Boyle had a role in all three of The Santa Clause films. In the original, he plays Scott Calvin’s boss. In the sequels, he plays Father Time.
Legacy, Remembering Peter Boyle
On October 18, 2007, which would have been Boyle’s 72nd birthday, his friend Bruce Springsteen, during a Madison Square Garden concert with the E Street Band in New York, dedicated "Meeting Across the River", segueing into "Jungleland", in memory of Boyle, stating: "An old friend passed away a while back — we met him when we first came to New York City… Today would have been his birthday."
Awards and nominations
Nomination (1977) — Lead Actor in a Drama or Comedy Special: Tail Gunner Joe
Nomination (1989) — Guest Actor in a Drama Series: J.J. Killian in Midnight Caller episode "Fathers and Sins"
Win (1996) — Guest Actor in a Drama Series: Clyde Bruckman in The X-Files episode "Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose"
Nominations (1999-2005) — Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Everybody Loves Raymond
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award
The cast of Everybody Loves Raymond was nominated for Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series each year from 1999-2000 and 2002-2006. Boyle was additionally nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series in 2002.
The Group (1966)
The Virgin President (1968)
Medium Cool (1969)
The Monitors (1969)
Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)
T.R. Baskin (1971)
The Candidate (1972)
Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973)
Steelyard Blues (1973)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Kid Blue (1973)
Crazy Joe (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The Brink’s Job (1978)
Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)
Where the Buffalo Roam (1980)
In God We Tru$t (1980)
Johnny Dangerously (1984)
Turk 182 (1985)
The In Crowd (1988)
Red Heat (1988)
The Dream Team (1989)
Speed Zone! (1989)
The Tragedy of Flight 103: The Inside Story’ (1990)
Solar Crisis (1990)
Men of Respect (1991)
Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)
Nervous Ticks (1992)
Death and the Compass (1992)
Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
Malcolm X (1992)
The Shadow (1994)
The Santa Clause (1994)
Exquisite Tenderness (1995)
Born to Be Wild (1995)
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Final Vendetta (1996)
Milk & Money (1996)
That Darn Cat (1997)
Species II (1998)
Dr. Dolittle (1998)
Monster’s Ball (2001)
The Cat Returns (2002)
The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
Bitter Jester (2003)
Imagine New York (2003)
Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)