‘Married With Children’ Star Ed O’Neill Almost Joined Mob As A Broke Aspiring Actor In The ‘60s


Ed O’Neill appeared on Tuesday’s episode of Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s podcast, revealing what life was like as an unemployed young man in the late ’60s. Ed was living in Ohio at the time when his career took a hit, and in the quest for a job, he was presented with mob duty.

The Modern Family star admitted to having “friends in organized crime,” whom he nearly joined to do criminal activities. “Most of them, actually, were not mafia-made guys…it was a lot of gangsters in Youngstown. All associated with these made guys. A lot of these guys were called associates,” he recalled.

Ed O’Neill refused to join the mob

Ed O’Neill decline joining a mobEd O’Neill decline joining a mob
MODERN FAMILY, Ed O’Neill, ‘Rash Decisions’, (Season 6, ep. 613, aired Feb. 4, 2015). photo: Peter ‘Hopper’ Stone / ©ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Ed opened up to one of his friends, Jim, about his condition, after which they drove to a restaurant Ed “would never go” to. “He started talking to the bartender. 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,’” he explained.

Ed watched as both men interacted, and after that moment, he was offered a job. “You can do this kind of stuff for me, you know, I’ll protect you, I’ll give you easy stuff. Just you collect here. You do that,” Jim had said. “You run, you drop something off here and there. You know, you may have to lean on a guy. You’re good at that. You can make some good money.”

MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN, (aka MARRIED WITH CHILDREN), Ed O’Neill, (1992), 1987-1997. ph: TM and ©Fox Network. All rights reserved / courtesy Everett Collection

Ed’s father warned him against it

Ed’s father learned about the offer and warned him against it as it may lead him to jail. The iconic actor also had plans to leave the city to pursue his acting career during that period. “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, ‘OK,”‘ Ed said, narrating the conversation with his dad.

Ed O’Neill decline joining a mobEd O’Neill decline joining a mob
MODERN FAMILY, Ed O’Neill, ‘Farm Strong’, (Season 5, ep. 504, aired Oct. 9, 2013). photo: Peter ‘Hopper’ Stone / ©ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Thanks to some good old wisdom and the desire for a better life, Ed refused, and now we have him as one of Hollywood’s leading entertainers. He declined the job and made for New York to follow his passion. By the ’80s, he landed his breakthrough gig as Al Bundy in the eleven-season sitcom Married With Children.


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