Best Known For
Actor Ed O'Neill is best known as the dad in TV sitcoms like Married... with Children and Modern Family.
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Born on April 12, 1946, Ed O'Neill was a fine athlete, but failed to make it in pro football. Instead, he turned to acting, gaining a bit part in 1972's Deliverance. After acting classes and roles on the stage, O'Neill was offered the role of Al Bundy in the FOX sitcom Married...with Children. The show ran for 11 seasons. O'Neill followed up with another sitcom turn on ABC's Modern Family.
Actor Ed O'Neill was born on April 12, 1946, in Youngstown, Ohio, as the eldest of five children to working-class Irish Catholic parents Ruth Ann Quinlan and Edward O'Neill, Sr. To support the family, O'Neill's father hauled goods cross country as a truck driver and also held a job as a steelworker. O'Neill's mother was a local social worker.
Small in stature as a child, O'Neill skyrocketed to 6-feet 1-inch as a teenager and became an accomplished athlete at Ursuline High School. He particularly excelled at football, and landed a college scholarship to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, based on his athletic abilities. At OU, O'Neill studied history, and showed an interest in the school's theater group. He spent more time, however, on sports and partying than he did on his studies. Frustrations with his coach didn't help matters, and by his sophomore year O'Neill had left OU. He headed back to his hometown to attend Youngstown State University his junior year, playing football as a defensive lineman, studying drama and continuing his pursuit of a history degree.
As graduation approached, O'Neill had hopes of becoming a professional linebacker for the National Football League. After receiving his bachelor's degree in 1969, O'Neill managed to land a tryout with Pennsylvania's pro-football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was a 15th round draft-pick for the Steelers that year, but was cut during training camp. Crestfallen, O'Neill worked a series of odd jobs, including trucking, hotel work and time at the steel mill. Eventually, O'Neill turned back to his alma mater, Ursuline High School, to substitute teach social studies classes. It was during this time that he decided he wanted to try his hand at acting.
By 1972, O'Neill's acting ambitions were also looking pretty hopeless; he auditioned over and over for Youngstown theatre productions, but rarely landed a speaking role. But when he finally landed a bit part as a police officer in the John Boorman film Deliverance (his only line was "No, we're still waiting for him to come around"), O'Neill decided that acting was his official calling. He headed to New York in 1977, supporting himself with his $1,700 in his savings account, the money he got from selling his car, and a job as a bus boy. When he wasn't working, he studied at New York's prestigious Circle in the Square Theatre School. O'Neill also frequented the Lincoln Center Library to listen to recordings of John Barrymore and Robert Shaw, and check out books on acting.
The work paid off in 1979, when he landed a role as the lead understudy in the Broadway play, Knockout.
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