Edward Walter "Eddie" Egan (January 3, 1930 in New York City – November 4, 1995 in Miami, Florida) was a New York City Police Department detective whose exploits were the subject of a book and movie, both entitled The French Connection. He and his partner, Sonny Grosso, with other New York City Police Department detectives, broke up an organized crime ring in 1961, seizing 112 pounds of heroin, which was a record amount at the time. The investigation was the subject of a book by Robin Moore and the subsequent motion picture released in 1971.
The movie was highly fictionalized, and the character based on Egan, Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, was played by Gene Hackman who won an Academy Award for his performance (the film also won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Editing). The character was called "Popeye", because that was Egan's nickname in real life. Egan played a small role in the movie as Hackman's supervisor, Simonson. Egan and Grosso were also technical advisors. Hackman reprised this role in the sequel film French Connection II in 1975.
Egan's seizure is mentioned as a throwaway line in the 2007 Feature American Gangster, but is portrayed as the very drugs taken out of the Evidence Room by corrupt police officers, cut and resold to the mobsters from whom it was stolen.
In 1986, a short-lived television series, Popeye Doyle, was planned based on the fictionalized character from the two films with Ed O'Neill playing the title character. While the series was never produced, the pilot was broadcast as a NBC TV Movie, and has been shown in syndication. In 1973 another film, called Badge 373, with Robert Duvall playing the role of Egan, was released detailing Egan's career.
He died from cancer, aged 65, at the University of Miami Cancer Center, and is survived by his fiancee, Cheryl Kyle-Little, and two half-sisters, Maureen Massett and Joan Massett. He is also survived by his children: Michael Egan, Gary Egan, Patty Egan and Victoria Egan.
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