Woody Allen is famously quoted as saying, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” However, I find it interesting (if that is the right word) that when an film actor or filmmaker passes away, one can remember them by viewing their work. Peter Boyle left a significant body of work behind him for us to enjoy.
Some interesting information about him from CNN.com:
Educated in Roman Catholic schools in Philadelphia, Boyle would spend three years in a monastery before abandoning his studies there. He later described the experience as similar to “living in the Middle Ages.”
He explained his decision to leave in 1991: “I felt the call for awhile; then I felt the normal pull of the world and the flesh.”
He traveled to New York to study with Uta Hagen, supporting himself for five years with various jobs, including postal worker, waiter, maitre d’ and office temp. Finally, he was cast in a road company version of “The Odd Couple.” When the play reached Chicago he quit to study with that city’s famed improvisational troupe Second City.
Upon returning to New York, he began to land roles in TV commercials, off-Broadway plays and finally films.
Through Alterman, a friend of Yoko Ono, the actor became close friends with John Lennon.
“We were both seekers after a truth, looking for a quick way to enlightenment,” Boyle once said of Lennon, who was best man at his wedding.
In 1990, Boyle suffered a stroke and couldn’t talk for six months. In 1999, he had a heart attack on the set of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” He soon regained his health, however, and returned to the series.
His first starring role was as the title character in the movie Joe which was released in 1970, in which Boyle played a hardhat bigot to wide acclaim. The film’s release was surrounded by controversy over its violence and language. Ironically, 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.