Honored as the 1996 "Penguin of the Year", Ed O'Neill enjoyed his return to the city where some of his fondest memories took place.
O'Neill was the star of the popular Fox sitcom MARRIED... WITH CHILDREN, where he became known as shoesalesman Al Bundy, who was fond of reliving his doubtful 15 seconds of fame on the football field. The popular show featuring the Bundy family aired from 1987 through 1997.
However, he was more than a cult hero, in fact, a professional football career after starring on the gridiron at nearby Ursuline High School and Youngstown State almost altered the career path of this celebrity.
O'Neill, who was born in Youngstown, first performed as a budding thespian and on the gridiron while in high school and in college. While he liked the stage, he initially preferred playing football, starring for the Penguins in 1967 and 1968. He was a late cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, and acting was the road that he then followed.
When his football career didn't pan out, he moved to Florida, only to return to Youngstown to take a teaching job. But while he enjoyed his work as a teacher, it was acting that he really yearned to do.
He earned many accolades for his outstanding performances in productions sponsored by the YSU Theater Department and various community theaters, and some of his more memorable local performances include "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", "The Rose Tattoo" and "Six Characters in Search of an Author."
When he was 30 years old, he moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue an acting career, and landed a role as an understudy in the Broadway production of "Knockout". True to theatrical legend, the lead left the show and the rest is history.
Some of his theater credits include David Manet: Lake Boat, Of Mice and Men, A Streetcar Named Desire, Androcles and the Lion, Front Page and The Gerte People.
Among his television credits he lists The Whereabouts of Jenny, Midnight Caller, Popeye Doyle, Big Apple, the 10th Kingdom, and of course, Married . . With Children.
On the big screen, he was the featured member of the movie Dutch, which was released in 1991. He has also had roles in Nobody's Baby (2001), The Bone Collector (1999), Little Giants (1994), Blue Chips (1994), Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 (1992, 1993), Sibling Rivalry (1990), The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990), K-9 (1989), Disorganized Crime (1989), The Dogs of War (1980) and Cruising (1980).