Paul "Paulie" Pennino is the tritagonist in the first film and the deuteragonist in all the other Rocky films. He was the brother of Adrian Balboa and a close friend of Rocky Balboa. He was portrayed by actor Burt Young.
Paulie was the close friend/brother-in-law of Rocky Balboa, the older brother of the late Adrian Pennino (who became Balboa's wife), and the uncle of Rocky Balboa, Jr.. Pennino was also a hardcore alcoholic, who had a cynical attitude and usually gave out negative comments, much to the dislike of his brother-in-law. From 1980 to 2012, he lived with Rocky Balboa.
Paulie is known for owning a robot in Rocky IV. Up until 2006, he worked as a Meat packer in Philadelphia. In 1976 he confronted a pregnant Adrian about what her lack of faith in Rocky was doing to her husband's career. In 1980, a drunk asked Rocky for an extra job to help the champ train. Before Rocky went to Russia, he accidentally signed a power of attorney to the family accountant who stole nearly all of the family's money, when the accountant duped Rocky and Adrian when the papers they signed that wasn't a tax extension, but a power of attorney to the accountant. Despite his alcoholism, drunken outbursts, jealously towards Rocky, and his generally-negative attitude, he has always been a dedicated friend to Rocky, staying at his side through success, loss, rough patches in their friendship, and trips throughout the world.
Paulie has been known to be a boorish, drunken, jealous, angry, intolerant person. As Rocky would later call him as a "Jealous, lazy bum." He has been known to be negative about everything in his life and lashing out on everybody he can. He also has a tendency to believe that friends owe him even if they already repaid him. Although despite all this he cares for his sister Adrian, and his friend/brother in law, Rocky. Although his sayings are negative and insulting, he has always known to have some truth in them. For example, when Tommy Gunn challenged Rocky to a fight, it was Paulie that pointed out that if it wasn't for Rocky that Gunn wouldn't be a contender. He was very loyal to Rocky and a good uncle to Robert. It is only after Tommy hits Paulie that Rocky is moved enough to fight him.
Despite all the negative personality traits attributed to Paulie, it must be said that from the beginning of the films (and evident in the backstory) that Paulie is the single longest and most loyal relationship in Rocky's life. They were friends long before Mickey Goldmill came begging Rocky for a chance to manage him - once Rocky already had the championship fight set. It is Mickey who drives a reluctant Adrian to date Rocky, in response to Rocky's plea to Paulie after Adrian continues to reject his advances. It is Paulie who jumps into the ring to protect Rocky when he is being abused by wrestler, Thunderlips. Between rounds with the Russia, Ivan Drago, that he sees three of him, Paulie - drawing on his experience as an alcoholic - advises Rocky to "hit the one in the middle." It is Paulie who knows Rocky well enough that, when he seems to be losing to Clubber Lang, that he is in fact not losing but "getting mad" - which only Paulie knows is the fuel he will need to defeat him. Every time Adrian cannot support Rocky's decisions to fight, it is Paulie who stays by Rocky's side; both in his second match with Apollo Creed - knowing his friend well enough to know that it is Adrian's disapproval that is keeping Rocky from giving his all to his preparation - and he confronts her about it, and in going to Russia with his brother-in-law when his sister refuses to do so).
The friendship between Rocky and Paulie is one of the truest in film history. Despite Paulie's shortcomings, he is loyal to Rocky and Rocky is loyal to him as well. They are brutally honest with one another, and Paulie reveals his true admiration for Rocky on the way to the ring for the fight with Ivan Drago, in a moment that must be seen to be truly felt. While many blame Paulie for causing the problem with Adrian's pregnancy, the injury actually occurs before Paulie arrives when she picks up, moves, and the quickly drops the heavy load of pet feed in the pail. Had Paulie not gone there to set her straight about Rocky's mindset, she would have been alone when the trouble began. Paulie is also blamed, by his sister, for their financial downfall, but the truth is that neither she nor Rocky read the paperwork for themselves, and signed away the power of attorney. Paulie is correct when he tells them that the accountant is the thief, he was simply duped like they were. In the last film in which Paulie appears, Rocky Balboa, again it is only Paulie who is with Rocky at the cemetery to visit Adrian. They are best friends - and brothers (in law) to the end of Paulie's life. He knows Rocky better than anyone, at times even better than his wife. He knows what makes Rocky tick, and while he is often an opportunist and cynic, there is a reason why of all the people whom Rocky knows, he is the last man standing in his life, because he was there before anyone else.
Paulie first appears in Rocky along with the rest of the recurring characters. As evidenced by a photo in the home he shares with Adrian, Paulie is a Navy veteran. When we first meet Paulie, he is employed as a butcher in a meat packing plant. Rocky has a crush on Paulie's sister, Adrian. Paulie brings Rocky home on Thanksgiving and insists that she goes out with him. When she refuses, using the holiday and the meal she has prepared as an excuse, Paulie goes so far as throwing away the Thanksgiving turkey away so that Adrian to force her to go out with Rocky. Paulie hates working in the cold packing plant and repeatedly asks Rocky for a hookup with is loan shark boss, Gazzo, for a job for him as a collector/enforcer, but Rocky politely denies him. After the first fight with Apollo Creed, Paulie is given the job as a collector for Gazzo. During one of Rocky's visits to the meat packing plant Rocky, angered by yet another of Paulie's angry outbursts about how it stinks in the meat plant and how he hates working in the cold, Rocky starts hitting a side of beef - eventually breaking the ribs. Paulie remarked that if Rocky does that to Apollo Creed that he would be hauled in for murder.
He and Rocky have their first falling out on Christmas Eve, when Paulie alerts a news crew to Rocky's unique training regime - punching sides of beef. It was then Rocky and Adrian discuss Paulie behind his back, when Paulie comes in the house and in a drunken rage berates Rocky about how he did everything for him and that Rocky never gave him anything in return. Rocky's calm demeanour enrages Paulie all the more, and he grabs a baseball bat and starts breaking things, even threatening to break Rocky's arms so that he cannot fight. When he remarked that he even gave Rocky his sister, she snapped at him that she owed him anything because she has been taking care of him for years and all he has ever done was make her feel like a loser. Rocky restrains him while Adrian runs to her room crying. Paulie is left sobbing that he can't keep working in the packing plant. Working there is partly responsible for Paulie's drinking, which he does on the job to keep warm.
While Rocky is training, Paulie reconciles with Rocky and asks whether or not it would be okay to make money using Rocky's name. Before the first fight with Apollo Creed, Paulie gives Rocky a robe with an advertisement for "Shamrock Meats" on the back. After the fight, Paulie causes a ruckus with security distracting them so Adrian could get to Rocky in the ring.
After his passing, Paulie was buried beside Adrian. Three years later in 2015, Rocky visits their graves on Nov. 19 to commemorate Paulie's birthday, setting out a bottle of Four Roses bourbon for him and a long-stemmed red rose for his love.
- Rocky (First appearance)