Before there was Frank Barone, there was Peter Boyle—advising Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, tap dancing in Young Frankenstein and marrying with best man John Lennon at his side.
Boyle, whose early film career as a counterculture figure receded into obscurity during his nine-season run as the "Holy crap"-spouting Barone patriarch on the prime-time hit Everybody Loves Raymond, died Tuesday night in a New York City hospital. He was 71.
The actor, who suffered a heart attack in 1999 on the Raymond set, was battling heart disease and multiple myeloma, a cancer that strikes plasma cells.
Show mastermind Ray Romano said he was "deeply saddened" by the news, adding, "I will miss him forever."
Boyle recently was seen as Father Time in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, his third appearance in the franchise. According to the Internet Movie Database, he worked this past summer on the upcoming drama Shadows of Atticus and was on board for the planned romantic comedy Chatham.
Raymond, the Boyle credit available for viewing on TV most every night, most everywhere, thanks to syndication, ended its run just last year. Boyle picked up seven Emmy nominations for Frank Barone's deadpan delivery, but unlike his main castmates, he never took home a statuette for the show.
"When I came out to L.A. to do Everybody Loves Raymond, I knew no one. Peter immediately took me under his wing and became my friend and mentor. He gave me great advice, he always made me laugh, and the way he connected with everyone around him amazed me," Romano said in a statement.
"The fact that he could play a convincing curmudgeon on the show, but in reality be such a compassionate and thoughtful person, is a true testament to his talent..."
The sentiment was echoed by Boyle's Raymond wife, Doris Roberts.
"It's like losing a spouse," she said in a statement. "I'm going to miss my dear friend, so unlike the character he played on television. He's a brilliant actor, a gentleman, incredibly intelligent, wonderfully well read and a loving friend."
Overall, Boyle was nominated 10 times for an Emmy. He won once, in 1996, for a guest appearance on The X-Files. In 1998, TV Guide praised the Boyle installment, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," as one of the 100 greatest episodes of all time.
"Peter Boyle...gives an astounding performance in this quirky death of a salesman," the magazine praised.
Boyle was already balding and in his mid-30s when he earned his first major acclaim for the 1970 Oscar-nominated satire Joe, about an Archie Bunker type who predated Archie Bunker and packed a more dangerous punch.
From there, Boyle went on to a key supporting turn as the campaign guru in 1972's The Candidate and roles in a relatively obscure Jane Fonda movie, 1973's Steelyard Blues, as well as a relatively obscure Peter Sellers movie, 1973's Ghost in the Noonday Sun.
In 1974, Boyle was cast as the nuts-and-bolts monster in the Mel Brooks classic Young Frankenstein. A soft-shoe routine to "Puttin' on the Ritz" ensued.
In the Martin Scorsese classic Taxi Driver, Boyle was Wizard, the supposed cabby sage. That same year, 1976, Boyle's counterculture credibility was such that he was considering suitable host material for the then-counterculture sensation Saturday Night Live.
In 1977, Boyle wed the former Loraine Alterman, once a reporter for Rolling Stone. No less than ex-Beatle Lennon served as Boyle's best man.
Born Oct. 18, 1935, in Philadelphia, Boyle made his first major big-screen appearance in the 1968 comedy The Virgin President.