Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peter Boyle - 1935(?)-2006

I’ve tried to get away from writing obituaries for TV performers, but sometimes you just can’t avoid it. This is one of those times.

Peter Boyle died today at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital. Until fairly recently Boyle was probably best known for his screen roles – notably the campaign manager Lucas in The Candidate and the Monster in Young Frankenstein - he also did considerable television work before Everybody Loves Raymond. One of his first acting parts was in the 1970 CBS summer series Comedy Tonight. He played Senator Joseph McCarthy in the TV movie Tailgunner Joe, and the title character in a short-lived show (six episodes) called Joe Bash about a lonely cop. This show is so obscure that only the barest of episode descriptions can be found. In 1994 he played “Stanilslas Kelly” in an ABC pilot Philly Heat, the cast of which included Ving Rhames and Tate Donovan. Most of his other pre-Raymond TV work was as a guest star. In Midnight Caller he played the Gary Cole character’s father J.J. Killian in two episodes. He played Dan Breen, Andy Sipowicz’s AA sponsor who is eventually killed by his abusive, mentally disturbed son. Perhaps most famously he played Clyde Bruckman in one of the most famous episodes of The X-Files “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, the role for which he won his only Emmy Award.

Of course it was for the role of Frank Barone that most TV viewers know him today. Amazingly he was the only member of the adult cast of that show not to win an Emmy award, despite having been nominated seven of the nine years the show was on the air. Boyle was perfectly cast as the sarcastic, angry, Frank, and you could always see a sort of twinkle in his eye when his character put one over on his wife Marie, played by Doris Roberts. Reportedly, when he auditioned for the part of Frank, producer Phil Rosenthal kept him waiting, which made the actor increasingly angry so that when he finally came in to read, “He came in all hot and angry, and I hired him because I was afraid of him.” Because of efforts to cross several of CBS’s Monday night sitcoms over, Boyle appeared in an episode of Bill Cosby’s last series Cosby. That show co-starred Madeline Kahn, who had appeared with Boyle in Young Frankenstein and before that in Comedy Tonight.

Peter Boyle met his wife Loraine Alterman on the set of Young Frankenstein - she was a reporter for Rolling Stone. Through her close friendship with Yoko Ono, Boyle developed a friendship with John Lennon, who served as Best Man at the couple’s 1977 wedding. They had two daughters. In recent photos he appeared increasingly gaunt and ill, possibly as a result of the multiple myeloma (a form of plasma cell cancer) and heart disease that he suffered. Peter Boyle was either 71 (according to most sources including IMDB) or 73 (according to Wikipedia).

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