Eddie Egan

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Eddie Egan
Egan in the Mannix episode "The Open Web", 1972
Edward R. Egan

(1930-01-03)January 3, 1930
DiedNovember 4, 1995(1995-11-04) (aged 65)
SpouseDolores Popkivich

Edward R. Egan (January 3, 1930 – November 4, 1995) was an American actor and former police detective. He was the subject of the nonfiction book The French Connection and its 1971 film adaptation.


Edward R. Egan was born in Queens, New York City on January 3, 1930, to Irish-American parents.[1] Raised by his grandmother after being orphaned at age 12, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947.[1] After his discharge, he played baseball for the New York Yankees' Triple-A club in 1950, but he was recalled to active duty for the Korean War.[1] After his second discharge, he joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 1955.[1]

His career with the NYPD spanned 15 years, and he was reported to have been responsible for more than 8,000 arrests.[1] Among his exploits, Egan (along with his partner Sonny Grosso and other NYPD detectives) broke up an organized crime ring in 1961, seizing 112 pounds of heroin, a record amount at the time. The investigation was chronicled in a 1969 book, The French Connection, by Robin Moore.[2]

The book was adapted to a motion picture of the same name, released in 1971. The movie was highly fictionalized and very successful. 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).[3] The character was called "Popeye" because that was Egan's nickname in real life. Egan played a role in the movie as Hackman's supervisor, Simonson.[4] Egan and Grosso were also technical advisors.[2] Hackman reprised this role in the sequel film French Connection II in 1975, which depicts a fictionalized story.[5]

Soon after the film was released, Egan asked to retire from the NYPD.[1] On his retirement day in November 1971, he was fired for failing to make court appearances in conjunction with his cases and for failing to turn in contraband weapons and narcotics, losing him his pension benefits.[6] He won an appeal and his pension was reinstated.[1]

In 1973 another film, called Badge 373, with Robert Duvall playing the role of Egan, was released detailing Egan's career.[7] Egan played Lt. Scanlon in the movie, once again (like in The French Connection) as an authority figure more or less sympathetic to the protagonist whose personality is based on himself. Also in 1973, ABC ordered and aired a television pilot entitled Egan, this time with Eugene Roche playing Egan, a tough NYPD cop transferred to Los Angeles, but it failed to go to series. In 1986, Fox developed Popeye Doyle, a proposed series based on the fictionalized character from the two films rather than Egan himself, with Ed O'Neill playing the title character.[8] While the series was never produced, the pilot was broadcast as an NBC-TV Movie, and has been shown in syndication.

After retiring from the NYPD, Egan became a full-time actor, usually playing law enforcement figures. He portrayed the head of the NYPD's Son of Sam task force in the 1985 movie Out of the Darkness,[9] and throughout his career, he played roles in more than 20 movies and television series. He moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1984.[10]


Egan died of colon cancer at the University of Miami Cancer Center, at the age of 65. He was engaged to Cheryl Kyle-Little at the time.[1]



Year Title Role Notes
1971 The French Connection Captain Walt Simonson
1972 Prime Cut Jake
1973 Badge 373 Lieutenant Scanlon
1974 Let's Go for Broke Himself
1987 Cold Steel Lieutenant Hill


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Mannix Lieutenant Paul Haber Episode: "The Open Web"
1972 Night of Terror Lieutenant Costin Television film
1973 McCloud Al Barber Episode: "Showdown at the End of the World"
1975 Cop on the Beat Sergeant Malone Television film
1975–1976 Joe Forrester Sergeant Bernie Vincent 22 episodes
1975–1977 Police Woman Captain / Jack Ballard / Brock 3 episodes
1975–1977 Police Story Ron Butler / Lieutenant Holtzman / Captain R.E. Mead / Sean McLiam / Sergeant Harry Volmer / Malone 6 episodes
1977 Baretta Thompson Episode: "Don't Kill the Sparrows"
1978 To Kill a Cop Chief Ed Palmer Television film
1979 David Cassidy: Man Undercover Detective Riggs Episode: "Nightwork"
1979–1980 Eischied Chief Inspector Ed Parks 12 episodes
1980 Police Story: Confessions of a Lady Cop Captain Harrison Television film
1981 Crazy Times The Bartender Television film
1983 T. J. Hooker Max Silver Episode: "Requiem for a Cop"
1983 Murder Me, Murder You Hennessey Television film
1984 Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Hennessey 7 episodes
1985 Out of the Darkness Tom Duncan Television film
1987 Houston Knights Episode: "Mirrors"
1989 True Blue Detective Episode: "Pilot: Part 1"


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Edward R. Egan, Police Officer Who Inspired Movie, Dies at 65 The New York Times via Internet Archive. Retrieved November 8, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Prial, Frank J. (November 9, 1971). "Eddie Egan, Detective Here, Connects as an Actor". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Gendel, Morgan (October 12, 1985). "DOCUDRAMAS BEND FACT TO TV : WHO'S THE HERO IN SON OF SAM CASE?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  4. ^ "EDDIE EGAN, COP DEPICTED IN 'FRENCH CONNECTION'". Chicago Tribune. November 6, 1995. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  5. ^ Wilkins, Barbara (November 10, 1975). "The Real Popeye Doyle, Eddie Egan, Cops a Comeback in Joe Forrester". People. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  6. ^ The French Connection at the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
  7. ^ Greenspun, Roger (July 26, 1973). "Screen: 'Badge 373,' With Eddie Egan:Ex-Detective Has Role, but Not of Himself The Cast". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Cerone, Daniel (January 13, 1991). "Profile: 'Al Bundy' Gets Serious: Actor Ed O'Neill Sheds 'Married' Character for ABC Dramatic Movie". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (October 11, 1985). "'Out of the Darkness,' on Son of Sam Case". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "Eddie Egan, Cop, Inspired 'French Connection' Film". South Coast Today. Associated Press. November 6, 1995.

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