Born: April 12, 1946
Date of Birth: April 12, 1946
Ed O'Neill's first stage performances were in his Youngstown, Ohio high school's plays. He was also an award-winning member of the school debate team. Although he liked the stage, Ed initially preferred playing football for both Ohio University and Youngstown State. He was actually drafted in 1969 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. But after being cut from the Steelers training camp, he went back to Youngstown and tried out for a production of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest at the local playhouse.
He found his calling in the theater, but he needed money and soon found himself working in the steel mills and later teaching social studies to Grade 6 students. While teaching, he decided to enroll in a series of acting classes. "I think subconsciously I always wanted to be an actor. It just took time to work it out emotionally."
Seven years later he moved to New York in hopes of becoming a professional actor. During this time he worked as a waiter and eventually won a role in the off-off-Broadway production of Requiem for a Heavyweight. He then became the understudy for the lead in the Broadway show Knockout.
Ed's biggest break came in television. After stints in a number of TV films such as Farrell for the People and Popeye Doyle, Ed found huge success on the hit television series Married with Children playing the man of the house, Al Bundy. The show granted him continual work for the next ten years as well as two Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical.
With his popularity on the rise, Ed won lead roles on the big screen, including in the films Dutch and Little Giants. He also had supporting roles in hit films such as Wayne's World (1992 and the 1993 sequel), Blue Chips (1994) and The Bone Collector (1999).
Also during the '90s, Ed could be found on the small screen in TV movies such as The Whereabouts of Jenny (1991), W.E.I.R.D. World (1995), and the miniseries The 10th Kingdom (2000). He returned to series television in the short-lived CBS drama Big Apple in 2001, then took on the role of Joe Friday in the ABC crime drama Dragnet in 2003, but didn't find long term success again until 2009, when he was cast in a starring role as Jay Pritchett on the sitcom Modern Family, which has enjoyed eight seasons to date. He has also received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for his role on the series and shared four Screen Actors Guild Awards with the rest of the cast.
Ed has also shared a Behind the Voice Actors Award with the rest of the cast of the animated feature Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and provided the voice of an octopus named Hank for the movie sequel Finding Dory (2016).
Ed separated from his wife, Cathy Rusoff, with whom he has two children in 1989, but they reconciled in 1993. They live in Los Angeles.