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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When the star walked off the production later that year, O'Neill was finally given a chance to shine onstage. The show earned him good reviews, and got him started in the industry.
O'Neill lived in Manhattan for the next 10 years, working regional theater and appearing in national commercial campaigns. Then in 1980, the stage actor was chosen for a co-starring role in the Al Pacino vehicle Cruising,
as well as a supporting role in The Dogs of War. These roles gave O'Neill Hollywood exposure, helping him to appear in a succession of guest roles on TV series such as Miami Vice (1984-'89) and Spenser for Hire (1985-'88).
O'Neil also starred in a series of failed pilots during this time, including a show with Valerie Harper called Farrell for the People, and a starring role in a TV spin-off of the popular film The French Connection (1971) called Popeye Doyle (1986). But it was his starring role as Lenny in the Hartford, Connecticut, version of the play Of Mice and Men that would land the actor his biggest role to date.
An executive for the FOX network, who happened to be in attendance during one of the O'Neill's performances as Lenny, asked the actor to audition for a role on a new sitcom at the network. The show, called Married... With Children, would focus on the lives of a blue collar, dysfunctional family living in Chicago. O'Neill auditioned for Al Bundy, the working-class father who spent his off-hours drinking beer, watching TV and reliving his glory days as a high school football hero. O'Neill landed the role and moved out to Los Angeles in 1987. That same year, Married... With Children hit the airwaves. It became an instant hit with viewers, and launched O'Neill into thousands of American households each week.
While O'Neill continued his successful run on Married, landing several Golden Globe nominations for his work on the show, he worked hard to differentiate himself from his do-nothing Al Bundy character through appearances in feature films. His turns in Dutch (1991), Wayne's World (1992) and Little Giants (1994), however, went almost unrecognized by fans. He returned to the theater as well, appearing in a production of David Mamet's Lakeboat in 1994.
Married came to an end in 1997, after 11 successful seasons on FOX. As the show drew to a close, O'Neill began looking for new ways to stretch his acting abilities. He appeared in the big-screen detective drama The Spanish Prisoner (1997), as well as the thriller The Bone Collector (1999). He then returned to TV in the drama Big Apple (2001) and a remake of the successful crime drama Dragnet (2003), playing policemen in both shows. In 2004, O'Neill took a recurring role as Pennsylvania's incumbent governor on the political drama The West Wing to positive reviews.
In fall 2009, O'Neill returned to family comedy with ABC's Modern Family, a show about unconventional families. O'Neill played Jay Pritchett, a man newly remarried to a much younger woman.
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