Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Married…with Children’s Ed O’Neill Reveals He Almost Joined the Mob

‘Married…with Children’s Ed O’Neill Reveals He Almost Joined the Mob

Life would have been a lot different for Ed O’Neill if he had taken a path toward joining the mob, but he didn’t do it. O’Neill has had two great TV runs with Married…with Children and Modern Family. But there was a time when he could not rub two nickels together.

O’Neill reflected on this part of his life on Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Dinner on Me podcast. Ed O’Neill had just been cut by the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969. Now, he was back home in Youngstown, Ohio. Jim, a childhood friend, decided to take O’Neill out for a drive.

“We’re driving and he said, ‘How you doing? You know, you, you got cut, you got no money,’” O’Neill said while recalling the discussion. “I said, ‘No, I’m broke. You know, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’”

In a quick minute or two, Jim and O’Neill stop their car at a bar.

Ed O’Neill Receives an Offer That He Had to Refuse

“He started talking to the bartender,” the Modern Family alum explained. “He says, ‘I’m looking for this kid, his name is whatever, Demko, his name is Jimmy Demko, do you know him?’ And the guy says, ‘No, it doesn’t ring a bell.’… So he gives him 20, and he says, ‘Look, he’s an old friend of mine, I haven’t seen him in years, you know, I’m looking to reconnect, but I’d like to surprise him. So if he comes in again, this is my, you can call this number. You can reach me.’”

Ed O’Neill recalled that he received a job offer as this journey continued. “We left and he said, ‘You can do this kind of stuff for me, you know, I’ll protect you,’” he said. “‘I’ll give you easy stuff. Just you collect here. You do that. You run, you drop something off here and there. (And) you know, you may have to lean on a guy. You’re good at that. You can make some good money… I said, ‘Let me think about it, Jim. Cause I’m, I don’t know. I might be leaving town to pursue this acting thing.’”

O’Neill thought about his friend’s proposal for a job. “I went home and I was thinking about it,” he explained. “I thought, you know, ‘What else am I going to do?’”

But the very next day, Ed O’Neill ended up having a chat with his father. Dear old Dad knew about Jim and his rather interesting past.

O’Neill’s Father Helps Son See the Light

“He said, I saw you take a ride with Jimmy… I just want to ask you a question. Can you do time?’” O’Neill remembered responding, “No.” “He said, ‘You couldn’t do time. You’d have a hard time being in jail, right?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think I could do time.’ He said, ‘Okay.’”

With that chat, a life in the mob was ruled out by Ed O’Neill. “I went, and then I called Jimmy, and I thanked him, and I said, ‘I’m going to New York. Yeah. I’m going to try this, this other thing.’”

Good move, Ed. He found his way to working on the stage. O’Neill was part of the groundbreaking Fox sitcom Married…with Children as shoe salesman Al Bundy. Then, a few years later, he played Jay Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family.

O’Neill lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. His career spans not only work in theater and television but movies, too. Ed O’Neill has been known to do some voiceover work as well. He’s done quite well for himself since turning down that job offer all those years ago.