By C. Young
Updated November 27, 2001 11:00 AM

The secret of a great sitcom is a great ensemble, and one of the most important ingredients in the ensemble of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” a fixture in the Nielsen top ten for CBS, is character actor Peter Boyle. “I play a guy who sits at home watching the Knicks on TV, and then I come back home and watch the Knicks on TV,” Boyle told the Associated Press about his role as Ray Romano ‘s father, a cranky lout who can be counted on for several major laughs every Monday at 9 p.m. “When I was in high school I wanted to be a leading-man guy, like Howard Keel. But then God saw fit to take the hair off my head at age 24.” Boyle, 65, didn’t allow baldness to keep him out of the anti-war movement, becoming friends with John Lennon and touring in a protest show with Jane Fonda. His roles as a hard-hat in “Joe,” the monster in “Young Frankenstein” and the cabby Wizard in “Taxi Driver” established him as one of the best actors around. His latest film, “Monster’s Ball,” will be released next month, but after surviving a stroke and a heart attack, he’s taking nothing for granted. “I survived it, and I gotta tell ya, I am really seriously close to my medication every day. The other side is, I’m living in a golden time now. I’m working. I take trips to London and Paris. I can afford my medication. I have a good life.”