O'Shea in Ulysses in 1967
2 June 1926|
|Died||2 April 2013
New York City, New York
O'Shea was born and brought up in Dublin and educated by the Christian Brothers at Synge Street school, along with his friend Donal Donnelly. His father was a singer and his mother a ballet teacher. Because he was bilingual, O'Shea performed in English-speaking theatres and in Irish in the Abbey Theatre Company. At age 12, he appeared in George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra at the Gate Theatre. He later studied music and drama at the Guildhall School in London and was a skilled pianist.
He was discovered in the 1950s by Harry Dillon, who ran the 37 Theatre Club on the top floor of his shop The Swiss Gem Company, 51 Lower O'Connell Street Dublin.
O'Shea began acting on the stage, then moved into film in the 1960s. He became popular in the United Kingdom, as a result of starring in the BBC sitcom Me Mammy alongside Yootha Joyce. In 1967–68 he appeared in the drama Staircase, co-starring Eli Wallach and directed by Barry Morse, which stands as Broadway’s first depiction of homosexual men in a serious light. For his role in that drama, he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1968.
O'Shea starred as Leopold Bloom in Joseph Strick's 1967 film version of Ulysses. Among his other memorable film roles in the 1960s were the well-intentioned Friar Laurence in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and the villainous Dr. Durand Durand (who tried to kill Jane Fonda's character by making her literally die of pleasure) in Roger Vadim's counterculture classic Barbarella (both films were released in 1968). In 1984, O'Shea reprised his role as Dr. Durand Durand (credited as Dr. Duran Duran) for the Duran Duran concert film Arena, since his character inspired the band's name. He played Inspector Boot in the 1973 Vincent Price horror film Theatre of Blood.
He was active in American films and television, such as his memorable supporting role as the trial judge in the Sidney Lumet-directed movie The Verdict with Paul Newman, an episode of the The Golden Girls in 1987, and portraying Chief Justice of the United States Roy Ashland in the television series The West Wing. In 1992, O'Shea guest starred in the season 10 finale of the sitcom Cheers, and, in 1995, in an episode of the show's spin-off Frasier. In the episode of Frasier, he played Dr. Schachter, a couples therapist who counsels the Crane brothers together. He appeared in the pilot episode of Early Edition as Sherman.
He was married to the Irish actress Kitty Sullivan, with whom he occasionally acted, most notably in a 1981 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. He had two sons from his first marriage, Colm and Steven, but O'Shea and Sullivan had no children together. O'Shea and his wife both adopted United States citizenship and resided in New York City, where they had lived since 1976.
Other notable stage appearances include Mass Appeal (1981) in which he originated the role of "Father Tim Farley" (for which he was nominated for a Tony Award as "Best Actor" in 1982), the musical Dear World in which he played the Sewer Man opposite Angela Lansbury as Countess Aurelia, Corpse! (1986) and a 1994 Broadway revival of Philadelphia, Here I Come.
O'Shea's first wife was Maureen Toal, an Irish actress, with whom he had two sons. He divorced her in 1974 and later married Kitty Sullivan, whom he met in Italy, where he was filming Barbarella and she auditioning for Man of La Mancha.
- Talk of a Million (1951)
- This Other Eden (1959)
- Mrs. Gibbons' Boys (1962)
- Carry On Cabby (1963)
- Never Put It in Writing (1964)
- Bing Crosby in Dublin (1965)
- Ulysses (1967)
- Romeo and Juliet (1968)
- Barbarella (1968)
- The Adding Machine (1969)
- Me Mammy (1968–70) 21 episodes
- Loot (1970)
- The Angel Levine (1970)
- Sacco e Vanzetti (1971)
- Theatre of Blood (1973)
- Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973)
- Professor Popper's Problem (1974)
- Percy's Progress (1974)
- Arabian Adventure (1979)
- The Verdict (1982)
- Arena (1984)
- The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
- The Dream Team (1989)
- Opportunity Knocks (1990)
- Only the Lonely (1991)
- The Playboys (1992)
- Murder in the Heartland (1993)
- The Butcher Boy (1997)
- The Matchmaker (1997)
- Puckoon (2002)
- Mystics (2003)
- The Pilot (1980)
- Blank, Ed (31 January 1982). "Milo O'Shea Has Mass Appeal". The Pittsburgh Press. pp. J1, J3.
- Coveney, Michael (3 April 2013). "Milo O'Shea obituary: Milo O'Shea obituary Irish stage and screen character actor who appeared in Barbarella, The Verdict and the BBC's 1969 sitcom Me Mammy". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- To view nominations, type "Milo O'Shea" in the search box. "Search Past Winners". Tony Awards. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
- "Episode Information for Fraiser". fancast.com.
- "Graduation Day". New Haven Register.
- BBC News; Retrieved 3 April 2013
- "Milo O'Shea has died". RTÉ News.
- Milo O'Shea at the Internet Movie Database
- Milo O'Shea at the Internet Broadway Database
- Milo O'Shea at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Obituary in The Irish Times