Childhood & Early Life
Edward Leonard "Ed" O'Neill was born on 12 April 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio. His father Edward Phillip O'Neill was a mill worker and truck driver, whereas his mother Ruth Ann was a homemaker and social worker.
He completed his schooling at the Ursuline high school. He then won a football scholarship to attend Ohio University, where he enrolled for a major in history.
Ed O’Neill used to spend more time in sports than studying. After his sophomore year, he left Ohio and was transferred to Youngstown State University, where he played as a defensive lineman. He graduated in 1969.
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In 1969, Ed O’Neill was signed as an undrafted free agent by the American football team Pittsburgh Steelers, but was removed during the training camp. Following this he worked in a series of odd jobs including trucking, at hotels and steel mills.
During this time, he returned to his alma mater Ursuline High School, to teach social studies. It was also during this period that he decided that he wanted to pursue acting as a profession.
He initially faced a lot of challenges in getting a role and for a long time auditioned at the Youngstown theater productions for minor roles, a majority of which did not have speaking parts as well.
In 1977, Ed O’Neill shifted to New York and while he was employed as a bus boy, he also took up studies at the New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre School. He used to make frequent visits to the Lincoln Centre Library to listen to the recordings of yesteryear actors Robert Shaw and John Barrymore, and read books on acting.
In 1979, he got the role of a boxer in the Broadway play ‘Knockout’. His performance in the play was well received. During the time, he also played a part in a stage production of John Steinbeck's ‘Of Mice and Men’ at the American Repertory Theater.
Later, in 1985 he made brief appearances on the small screen. He appeared in a Red Lobster television commercial along with Jeff Kinsland and played a minor role in the television series ‘The Equalizer’.
The following year, he got the role of an NYPD police detective for a planned TV series ‘Popeye Doyle’. Though he received positive reviews for the performance, the pilot project did not find producers.
In 1986 he was called for an audition and subsequently landed the lead role of Al Bundy in Fox Network’s sitcom ‘Married…with Children’. The show debuted in 1987 and ran successfully for 11 seasons until 1997
While starring in the show, Ed O’Neill appeared in several feature films including ‘Disorganized Crime’ (1989),’ The Adventures of Ford Fairlane’ (1990), ‘Sibling Rivalry’ (1990) and ‘Little Giants’ (1994).
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After 1997, he began exploring other projects that allowed him to showcase his acting skills. He was a part of detective drama ’Spanish Prisoner’ (1997) and thriller ‘Bone Collector’ (1999).
In 2001, he portrayed the character of Detective Michael Mooney in the television drama series ‘Big Apple’. Between 2003 and 2004, he played the part of Lieutenant Joe Friday in the television series ‘L.A. Dragnet’. However, the series was cancelled during the second season.
Between 2004 and 2005, Ed O’Neill got the part of Governor Eric Baker in the political drama series ‘The West Wing’. In 2004, he was also part of the cast in political thriller film ‘Spartan’.
In 2007, he played the role of Bill Jacks in ‘John from Cincinnati’. The drama series comprised ten episodes and was aired between June and August 2007.
In 2009, he got the lead role of Jay Pritchett in the ABC’s mockumentary sitcom ‘Modern family’. The series has been running successfully since then and has completed eight seasons.
He has also lent his voice to several projects like ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (2012) and ‘Finding Dory’ (2016).
He has made appearances in several television series like ‘Twenty Good Years’ (2006), ‘The Penguins of Madagascar’ (2012), ‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’ (2013) and ‘Family Guy’ (2015).
Awards & Achievements
Ed O’Neill’s performances in television series have earned him several awards and nominations. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Innovator Award at the TV Land Awards for ‘Married... with Children’.
He also received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for ‘Modern Family’ for three consecutive years in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
In 2011, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.