Even at the painful end of his life, Peter Boyle still had his famous sense of humor.
“I made him laugh two days before he died,” Boyle’s close friend Robert Klein told PEOPLE, as he joined Everybody Loves Raymond costars Ray Romano, Doris Roberts and other stars at the actor’s private memorial service Monday in New York.
As for what kept Boyle in good spirits, Klein said: “He and his daughter and I sang ‘Putting On The Ritz,’ what he did for Young Frankenstein, and he was able to smile. He kept on fighting. He lived a wonderful life and he really wanted more of it.”
Trumpet maestro Chris Botti performed “Ave Maria” at the service, while Romano, Roberts, Klein and other friends and family members said eulogies to Boyle. Others paying their respects to Boyle included Raymond costars Patricia Heaton and Brad Garrett, Chevy Chase, Alan Alda, Lorraine Bracco and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
The actor, who most recently played the grouchy father on Raymond and in 1974 played the monster in Mel Brooks’s Young Frankenstein, died last Tuesday at the age of 71 at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Boyle had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease.
Billy Baldwin, who also paid his respects, said the touching eulogies illustrated how Boyle was the opposite of the parts he usually played. “His characters were sort of curmudgeonly and ornery and intense and he was just a big bear of a man who was loving and caring and sweet,” says Baldwin. “And of course, he had a marvelous sense of humor.”
Boyle, who lived in Manhattan, is survived by his wife, Loraine, and their daughters Lucy and Amy.