Date of Birth : Oct 18th 1935
A bold, blunt instrument of hatred and violence at the onset of his film career, Peter Boyle recoiled from that repugnant, politically incorrect “working class” image to eventually play gruff, gentler bears and even comedy monsters in a career that lasted four decades.
Following a solid Irish-Catholic upbringing (he attended a Catholic high school), Peter was a sensitive youth and joined the Christian Brothers religious order at one point while attending La Salle University in Philadelphia. He left the monastery after only a few years when he “lost” his calling.
Bent on an acting career, Boyle initially studied with guru Uta Hagen in New York. The tall (62″), hulking, prematurely bald actor wannabe struggled through a variety of odd jobs (postal worker, waiter, bouncer) while simultaneously building up his credits on stage and waiting for that first big break.
Things started progressing for him after appearing in the national company of “The Odd Couple” in 1965 and landing TV commercials on the sly. In the late 60s he joined Chicago’s Second City improv group and made his Broadway debut as a replacement for Peter Bonerz in Paul Sills “Story Theatre” (1971) (Sills was the founder of Second City). Peter’s breakout film role did not come without controversy as the hateful, hardhat-donning bigot-turned-murderer Joe (1970) in a tense, violence-prone film directed by John G. Avildsen. The role led to major notoriety, however, and some daunting supporting parts in T.R. Baskin (1971), Slither (1973) and as Robert Redfords calculating campaign manager in Candidate, The (1972). During this time his political radicalism found a visible platform after joining Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland on anti-war crusades, which would include the anti-establishment picture Steelyard Blues (1973).
This period also saw the forging of a strong friendship with Beatle John Lennon. Destined to be cast as monstrous undesirables throughout much of his career, he played a monster of another sort in his early film days, and thus avoided a complete stereotype as a film abhorrent. His hilarious, sexually potent Frankenstein’s Monster in the cult Mel Brooks spoof Young Frankenstein (1974) saw him in a sympathetic and certainly more humorous vein.