Most of us are familiar with actor Peter Boyle, either as grandfatherly Frank Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond or as Gene Wilder’s clunkily dancing monster in Young Frankenstein. Prior to his death in 2006, Peter Boyle was always a welcomed presence in films and TV. He was a valued and respected B-list background guy. He was the kind of guy about whom a Hollywood agent might knowingly remark, “Peter Boyle will always make a beautiful dollar in this business.”
There are however 2 highly dispensable facts to know about him. And I present these superfluous oddities so I may keep my little corner of the world tidy and in doing so relieve my OCD. One bit of choice minutia deals with John Lennon and the other petty detail is a connect-the-dots cerebral feat of utterly inconsequential coincidences. So fasten your seatbelt everybody. Not for this tame piece, but just in general. I mean it’s a good idea to fasten your seat belt and that’s why I like to place a little Public Service Announcement in all my stories.
John Lennon was the Best Man at Peter Boyle’s wedding. Imagine, John Lennon. Could Peter Boyle somehow be the 5th Beatle? – Hardly. And if you ever heard him sing Puttin’ on the Ritz in Young Frankenstein you understand he couldn’t even be the 5th Season for Frankie Valli. But as it was Peter Boyle became friends with John Lennon through his fiancé Loraine Alterman who was a writer for the Rolling Stone. She had befriended Yoko Ono. And when Peter Boyle married Ms. Alterman, he asked John Lennon to be his Best Man. Legend has it that Mr. Boyle also considered Leonid Brezhnev as Best Man, but the Soviet leader decided to remain Back in the USSR. As it was Peter Boyle chose well and the former Beatle won out.
OK so far? Good. Now savor that celebrity morsel while we move on to the entrée where I present a wholly unneeded examination of a string of insignificant theatrical coincidences in the career of Peter Boyle. The fact that John Lennon was the Best Man at his wedding is evidence enough that Peter Boyle was not your average Joe – Joe being the operative word here. It is infinitesimally fascinating to note that in no fewer than four movies/TV shows Peter Boyle starred in, the name “Joe” appeared in the title. See below:
Joe – As a world weary misfit 1970
Crazy Joe – As crazy mobster Joey Gallo 1974
Tail Gunner Joe – As overly zealous commie-fighter Senator Joe McCarthy 1977
Joe Bash – As a jaded NYC cop 1986
For the love of Pete that’s a lot of Joe’s. Even for the love of Pete Boyle that’s a lot of Joes. There may be more Joe’s in his career that I’m unaware of. For example I don’t know what they called Dr. Frankenstein’s monster in Young Frankenstein – coulda been Joe Monster. I heard Peter Boyle refused the roll of Joe in Joe vs the Volcano for fear of being typecast.
In the short-lived (alright, barely-lived) TV series Joe Bash, the promotional tagline was hardly something to rally around or render it as must-see TV. It read: He steals donuts. He dates a hooker. He’s one of New York’s finest. He’s Joe Bash. Really? Yes, really.
Well, what have we learned after reading 135 pages on Peter Boyle and the uncanny recurrence of Joe roles in his career? Fortunately for you, I edited-down the original 135 pages to these 2, must-read pages. Think of it as the Cliff Notes to this story: Peter Boyle, John Lennon and Joe? I think condensing those less to-the-point, 133 pages into just 2 pages makes this piece more essence-y.
Highlighting the happenstance of the many Peter Boyle “Joe” roles is how I role. It’s my cup of tea. No, that’s not quite right. It’s actually my cup of Joe.