Ed O'Neill

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Ed O'Neill
Ed O'Neill at 2015 PaleyFest.jpg
O'Neill at the 2015 PaleyFest for Modern Family
Edward Leonard O'Neill

(1946-04-12) April 12, 1946 (age 76)
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1979–present
Catherine Rusoff
(m. 1986)

Football career
Personal information
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Career information
High school:Ursuline High School
(Youngstown, Ohio)
College:Youngstown State
Position:Defensive lineman
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only

Edward Leonard O'Neill[1] (born April 12, 1946) is an American actor and comedian. His roles include Al Bundy on the Fox Network sitcom Married... with Children, for which he was nominated for two Golden Globes, and Jay Pritchett on the award-winning ABC sitcom Modern Family, for which he was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards and won four Screen Actors Guild Awards (all four for being part of the best Ensemble in a Comedy Series).[2][3] He has also appeared in the Wayne's World film series, Little Giants, Prefontaine, The Bone Collector, and Sun Dogs, and has done voice-work for the Wreck It Ralph franchise and Finding Dory.

Early life[edit]

O'Neill was born into an Irish-American Catholic family in Youngstown, Ohio on April 12, 1946.[4][5][6] His mother, Ruth Ann (née Quinlan), was a homemaker and social worker, and his father, Edward Phillip O'Neill, was a steel mill worker and truck driver.[6] O'Neill attended Ursuline High School where he played football. At 14 he worked in construction, then at a steel mill.[7]

He was awarded a football scholarship to Ohio University, where he majored in history, and was a member of the Mu chapter of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.[8] He left the university after his sophomore year. He admits he spent more time playing sports and partying than studying.[8] He also feuded with his coach.[7]

He transferred to Youngstown State University, where he was a defensive lineman. As an undergraduate, he pledged Delta Sigma Phi and was initiated into the Delta Sigma chapter there. Rumors abound that he was an avid partier.[6]

Professional football career[edit]

Pittsburgh Steelers (1969)[edit]

O'Neill was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969 under rookie head coach Chuck Noll but was cut in training camp, having to compete with fellow rookie defensive lineman "Mean Joe" Greene and L. C. Greenwood for a roster spot. Both became key members of the Steel Curtain defense during the Steelers success in the 1970s.[5][6][9] Later, while on Married... with Children, O'Neill played a former high school football star who had failed to make it big and constantly reminisced about his "glory days" at Polk High ("I once scored four touchdowns in a single game"). As part of this theme, former Pittsburgh Steelers great and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw also made two guest appearances on the show. Bradshaw later made an appearance in O'Neill's Modern Family. O'Neill worked as a substitute social studies teacher at his alma mater Ursuline High School before becoming an actor.[6]


O'Neill in 2010

O'Neill re-enrolled at Youngstown State after being cut by the Steelers and was one of the first students at the school's new theater program.[7] In 1979, he played a boxer opposite Danny Aiello in the Broadway play Knockout. It was there that he was seen by director William Friedkin and landed his first movie role, as a police detective in Cruising, starring Al Pacino.

In 1985, O'Neill appeared alongside Jeff Kinsland in a Red Lobster commercial.[10] He made a brief guest appearance in The Equalizer. In 1986, he was cast as NYPD detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle for the planned television series Popeye Doyle. The character had originally appeared in the motion picture The French Connection (played by Gene Hackman). The two-hour made-for-television movie/pilot was filmed and shown on network television. O'Neill received good reviews for his performance, and the pilot received positive ratings, but the series was not picked up for production.

In 1986, while playing the role of Lennie in a stage production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men at the Hartford Theater in Hartford, Connecticut, he was seen by a casting agent from the Fox television network and was asked to audition for the role of Al Bundy[11] in Married... with Children, a proposed sitcom about a dysfunctional family living in Chicago.[6] He won the part because, during the audition, he simply slumped his shoulders and sighed as he was about to walk through the front door of the home.[12] Married... with Children led off the first night of Fox's primetime lineup on April 5, 1987, concluding after 11 seasons on June 9, 1997.

During and following the success of Married... with Children, O'Neill starred in several films, including Dutch and Little Giants. He also had small parts in The Bone Collector, Wayne's World, and Wayne's World 2, and appeared as Relish the Troll King in The 10th Kingdom. O'Neill made a brief appearance on the comedy variety show In Living Color, playing the "Dirty Dozens" champion who defeats the challenger, played by Jamie Foxx. He also made a cameo on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules as the ex-boyfriend of Cate S. Hennessy (played by Katey Sagal, who portrayed O'Neill's wife Peggy Bundy on Married... with Children). He appeared in the movie The Adventures of Ford Fairlane with Andrew Dice Clay. During the mid-1990s, he had a string of appearances in commercials for 1-800-COLLECT.

Law & Order franchise creator Dick Wolf cast O'Neill as Sgt. Joe Friday in his 2003 remake of Jack Webb's classic TV crime series Dragnet. The series was canceled by ABC in its second season. O'Neill went on to appear as Governor Eric Baker, a recurring character on NBC's The West Wing. O'Neill also played Bill on HBO's television series John from Cincinnati.

In 2008, O'Neill appeared in an advertisement for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as "Al the Shoesalesman".[13]

In January 2009, O'Neill reunited with David Faustino (Bud Bundy from Married... with Children) for two episodes of Faustino's show Star-ving.[14] O'Neill also appeared with the entire cast of Married... with Children again when they were honored at the 7th Annual TV Land Award show in 2009.

From 2009 to 2020, O'Neill played the role of Jay Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family, a role that earned him three Primetime Emmy Award nominations—in 2011, 2012, and 2013.[15][16][17] Since 2012, O'Neill has done voice-overs in TV advertisements for the over-the-counter form of Zyrtec,[18] along with Walmart's store-branded mobile phone service Straight Talk.

In 2016, O'Neill starred as Hank the Octopus in the Pixar animated film Finding Dory. According to O'Neill, he didn't realize at first that he had a starring role in the film. As his voice recording sessions continued and most of his interactions turned out to be with Dory, he began to suspect that Hank was a major character in the film.[19]

Personal life[edit]

O'Neill is married to actress Catherine Rusoff. As of 2016, they were living in Los Angeles with their two daughters.[20]

After being introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu by his friend writer/director John Milius, O'Neill has trained for 22 years under the mentoring of Rorion Gracie. In December 2007, O'Neill received his black belt.[21][22] In the 2012 TV documentary I Am Bruce Lee, O'Neill states that he considers getting his black belt "the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children."[23]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 Cruising Detective Schreiber
The Dogs of War Terry
1989 Disorganized Crime George Denver
K-9 Sergeant Brannigan
1990 The Adventures of Ford Fairlane Lieutenant Amos
Sibling Rivalry Wilbur Meany
1991 Dutch Dutch Dooley
1992 Wayne's World Glen
1993 Wayne's World 2 Glen
1994 Blue Chips Ed
Little Giants Kevin O'Shea
1997 Prefontaine Bill Dellinger
The Spanish Prisoner FBI Team Leader
1999 The Bone Collector Detective Paulie Sellitto
2000 Lucky Numbers Dick Simmons
2001 Nobody's Baby Norman Pinkney
2004 Spartan Burch
2005 Steel Valley Congressman Cardone Short film
2008 Redbelt Hollywood Producer
2010 Lost Masterpieces of Pornography Chief Justice Renato Corona Short film
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Mr. Litwak Voice role
2015 Entourage Himself Cameo
2016 Finding Dory Hank Voice role
2017 Sun Dogs[24] Bob Garrity
2018 Ralph Breaks the Internet Mr. Litwak Voice role
2020 The Last Shift Dale


Year Title Role Notes
1980 The Day the Women Got Even Ed TV film
1981 Another World Lenny Episode: "Hostages at the Cabin"
1982 Farrell for the People Detective Jay Brennan TV film
1983 When Your Lover Leaves Mack Sher
1984 Miami Vice Arthur Lawson / Artie Rollins Episode: "Heart of Darkness"
1985 Moonlighting Taxi driver Episode: "Pilot"
Hunter Dan Colson Episode: "The Garbage Man"
Braker Danny Buckner TV film
The Equalizer Doctor Episode: "The Children's Song"
Spenser: For Hire Buddy Almeida Episode: "Widow's Walk"
1986 A Winner Never Quits Whitey Wyshner TV film
Popeye Doyle James "Popeye" Doyle TV pilot film
1987 Right to Die TV film
1987–1997 Married... with Children Al Bundy Lead role; 259 episodes
1988 Police Story: Gladiator School Sergeant Stanley Bivens TV film
Midnight Caller Hank Episode: "Twelve Gauge"
1990 Saturday Night Live Guest host January 13, 1990
A Very Retail Christmas Max Crandall TV film
The Earth Day Special Al Bundy TV special
1991 Top of the Heap Al Bundy Episode: "Top of the Heap"
The Whereabouts of Jenny Jimmy O'Meara TV film
1994 In Living Color Himself Episode: "The Dirty Dozens Tournament of Champions"
1995 W.E.I.R.D. World Dr. Monochian TV film
2000 The 10th Kingdom Relish the Troll King 9 episodes
2001 Big Apple Detective Michael Mooney 8 episodes
2003–2004 L.A. Dragnet Lieutenant Joe Friday 22 episodes
2004 In the Game Buzz TV pilot
2004–2005 The West Wing Governor Eric Baker 4 episodes
2005 8 Simple Rules Matt Walsh Episode: "Old Flame"
2006 Inseparable Alan TV film
Twenty Good Years Brock Manley Episode: "Between Brock and a Hard Place"
The Unit William Partch Episode: "Silver Star"
2007 John from Cincinnati Bill Jacks 10 episodes
2009 WordGirl Panicking Man (voice) Episode: "The Wrong Side the Law"; uncredited
2009–2020 Modern Family Jay Pritchett Lead role; 250 episodes
2011 Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil Grandpa (voice) Episode: "Truth or Daredevil"
Handy Manny Mayor Thompson (voice) Episode: "Great Garage Rescue"
2012 The Penguins of Madagascar Orson (voice) Episode: "Operation: Antarctica"
2013 Real Husbands of Hollywood Himself Episode: "Thicke and Tired"
2015 Family Guy Bud Swanson (voice) Episode: "Papa Has a Rollin' Son"
2019 Weird City Burt Maxsome Episode: "The One"


Short Stories
Year Writing Notes
2015 A Few Cold Nights in '58 Appeared in Car Bombs to Cookie Tables: The Youngstown Anthology

Awards and nominations[edit]

O'Neill received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 30, 2011, ironically located in front of a shoe store.[25][26][5][12]

Year Award Category Title Result
1992 Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical Married... with Children Nominated
1993 Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical Nominated
2009 TV Land Award Innovator Award Won
2009 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Modern Family Nominated
2010 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2010 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2011 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2011 Golden Nymph Award Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2011 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2012 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won
2013 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
2014 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2015 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2017 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ed O'Neill | Television Academy Interviews". Television Academy. October 22, 2017. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Romero, Frances (September 16, 2011). "Ed O'Neill: From Al Bundy to Jay Pritchett". Time. Archived from the original on September 16, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  3. ^ "Ed O'Neill | TV Guide". TV Guide. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Pallante, Sally; Scotty Hanahan; Jim Dunn; Paul Miller; Martin Pallante; Terry Dunn (2004). Irish in Youngstown and the Greater Mahoning Valley. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 0738532185. Retrieved October 7, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c "Ed O'Neill: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Ed O'Neill - Biography". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  7. ^ a b c Rothbart, Davy (January 12, 2021). "How to Go From Working in a Steel Mill to Being the Highest Paid Actor on TV". Wealthsimple. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2011
  9. ^ "It's Evening in America". Vanity Fair. May 2012. Page 156.
  10. ^ "Red Lobster Commercial with Ed O'Neil". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "Interview with Ed O'Neil". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Mullins, Jenna (November 20, 2015). "19 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Married... With Children". E!. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  13. ^ Al the Shoesalesman Gets a Tax Cut on YouTube
  14. ^ Faustino, David (2009). Star-ving: The Complete First Season (NTSC). Sony Pictures. ASIN B002HMDSOY. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  15. ^ "Ed O'Neill". Emmys.com. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  16. ^ Pond, Steve (July 14, 2011). "Snubs, surprises and favorites for Emmy gold". Reuters. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  17. ^ O'Neil, Tom (September 14, 2011). "Finally, Emmy jackpot for Ed O'Neill?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  18. ^ Other works for Ed O'Neill (I). imdb.com
  19. ^ Snetiker, Mark (June 17, 2016). "Finding Dory: Ed O'Neill didn't know he was a lead". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  20. ^ "Ed O'Neill". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. April 18, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  21. ^ Al Bundy Gets Black Belt on YouTube
  22. ^ "Ed O'Neill Practices Jiu-Jitsu With Billy Bush!". Access Hollywood. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  23. ^ Greenfest, Sara (December 10, 2012). "13 celebrities who fight fat with martial arts". Men's Fitness. the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children.
  24. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 1, 2016). "Michael Angarano & Melissa Benoist To Star In Jennifer Morrison's 'Sun Dogs'". Deadline Hollywood.
  25. ^ Nededog, Jethro (August 30, 2011). "'Modern Family's' Ed O'Neill Gets Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  26. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (August 30, 2011). "Ed O'Neill gets Walk of Fame star". USA Today. Retrieved March 16, 2012.

External links[edit]