Ed O’Neill is an American actor best known for portraying Al Bundy, the main character of Married…with Children. Now, he is on Modern Family, an ABC sitcom, as Jay Pritchett, which won him a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Edward Phillip O’Neill, Jr. was born on April 12, 1946 to Ruth Ann, a social worker, and Edward Philip O’Neil, both a trucker and a steel mill worker, in Youngstown Ohio. They were Irish Catholic. O’Neill went to Ursuline High School and got a football scholarship to Ohio University to major in history. Because he was a terrible student, O’Neill dropped out in his sophomore year. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed him on in 1969, but he failed the training camp. Before becoming an actor, O’Neill was a social studies teacher at his old high school.
After being kicked out of the Steelers, O’Neill went to YSU and enrolled into the new theater program, playing Lenny in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. In 1985, he was in a Red Lobster commercial. Later, he did commercials for AOL and 1-800-COLLECT. In 1986, he was cast as NYPD Jimmy Doyle in the television series Popeye Doyle.
However, O’Neill is mostly known for playing the main role Married…with Children, about a dysfunctional family in Chicago. This show ran from 1987 to 1997.
After his success in Married… with Children, O’Neill acted in movies and TV shows such as The Bone Collection, Little Giants, The 10th Kingdom, Cruising, and Dutch. He had brief cameos in Wayne’s Word and its sequel, as well as the sitcom, 8 Simple Rules. O’Neill played Sergeant Joe Friday in Dick Wolf’s Dragnet, but this series was cancelled after the first season. O’Neill continued on to play Governor Eric Baker in NBC’s The West Wing. Baker became the vice president by the end of the series. O’Neill also starred in John From Cincinnati and Modern Family. In 2009, he partnered up with David Faustino in Faustino’s show Star-ving.
In 2008, O’Neill was in an advertisement for Barack Obama, the presidential candidate, as his character Al Bundy in Married…with Children.
O’Neill was married to Catherine Rusoff from 1986 to 1989, when they broke up. They got back together in 1993, and had two daughters, Sophia and Claire. When John Milius introduced O’Neill to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, O’Neill started training under Rorion Gracie, whose father and uncle invented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. O’Neill has now trained in this for seventeen years, and in 2007, he received a black belt.