Mr. Young grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the Corona section of Queens, and was introduced to the streets early. “My father is trying to make me… Nicest baby“He sent me to Bryant High School in Astoria, far from my Corona classmates,” he wrote in the introduction to Corona: The Early Years (2015), by Jason D. Antos and Constantine E. Theodosio.
He continued, “But I was soon expelled. I enrolled at St. Anne’s Academy in Manhattan and was expelled after one semester.” “Finally, the Marines were 16, and my squad tricked my age into getting me in.”
He began boxing in the Marine Corps and went on to have a successful, if relatively short, career under Cass D’Amato, the boxing coach and manager who nurtured the careers of Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson. He had a win-loss record of about 17 to 1 – his own calculations varied – when he left the ring.
In his late twenties, he was laying carpets and doing other odd jobs when he became infatuated with a woman working the bar, who told him she dreamed of studying acting with Mr. Strasberg. “I didn’t know who Lee Strasberg was,” he told Bright Lights. “I thought it was a girl.”
Mr. Young set them up with Mr. Strasberg, the father of method acting, and they ended up studying with him for two years. “Acting was all I was hunting for,” he recalls. “In my life up until then, I had been using tension to hold myself upright. Lee’s great gift to me was relaxation.
His many other film credits ranged from Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), a harrowing adaptation of the scandalous 1964 novel by Hubert Selby Jr. about the lost souls of the underside of mid-century Brooklyn, to the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield comedy “Back to school”. Mr. Young also wrote and starred in “Uncle Joe Shannon” (1978), the story of a jazz musician whose life falls apart before he finds redemption.
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