Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Milo O'Shea Passes On

Irish character actor Milo O'Shea died 2 April 2013 at the age of 86.

Milo O'Shea was born in Dublin, Republic of Ireland on 2 June 1926. His father was a professional singer and his mother was both a harpist and a ballerina. His acting career began when he was very young, and he appeared in a radio adaptation of Oliver Twist when he was only 10 years old. He was twelve years old when he appeared in a production of George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra at the Gate Theatre in Dublin. By the time he was 17 years old he was already touring with an Irish acting troupe.

Mr. O'Shea made his film debut in an uncredited role in Contraband in 1940. In the Fifties he appeared in the films Talk of a Million (1951) and This Other Eden (1959), and he was the off screen narrator of the film Never Love a Stranger (1958). He appeared in the television programmes The Passing Show, Armchair Theatre, ITV Television Playhouse, On Trial.

In 1961 he received widespread recognition for his role in Glory Be! at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. He made Broadway debut in Staircase in 1968. In 1969 he appeared again on Broadway in Dear World. In the Sixties he regularly appeared on television. He was the star of the BBC sitcom Me Mammy, which ran from 1968 to 1971. Milo O'Shea also appeared in such shows as Play of the Week, Out of This World, Z Cars, Maupassant, First Night, ITV Play of the Week, Uncle Charles, and On the House. He also appeared in several films over the decade, including such films as Mrs. Gibbons' Boys (1962), Carry on Cabby (1963), Never Put It in Writing (1964), Ulysses (1967), Journey Into Darkness (1968), Romeo and Juliet (1968), Barbarella (1968), The Adding Machine (1969), Paddy (1970), Loot (1970), and The Angel Levine (1970).

In the Seventies Milo O'Shea appeared on Broadway in Mrs. Warren's Profession, Comedians, and A Touch of the Poet. On television he was a storyteller on Jackanory. He appeared on such shows as Tales from the Lazy Ace, The Protectors, QB VII, Microbes and Men, and My Son Reuben. He appeared in the films Sacco & Vanzetti (1971), The Love Ban (1973), Theatre of Blood (1973), Steptoe and Son Ride Again (1973), Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World (1973), Professor Popper's Problem (1974) Percy's Progress (1974), Arabian Adventure (1979), and The Pilot (1980).

In the Eighties Mr. O'Shea appeared on Broadway in a revival of My Fair Lady, Mass Appeal, Corpse, and a revival of Meet Me in St. Louis. He appeared in the films The Verdict (1982), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), The Dream Team (1989), and Opportunity Knocks (1990).   He appeared in the television shows Jennifer Slept Here, St. Elsewhere, Once a Hero, Who's The Boss,  The Golden Girls, and Beauty & The Beast.

From the Nineties into the Naughts, Milo O'Shea appeared in such films as Only the Lonely (1991), The Playboys (1992), The Butcher Boy (1997), The MatchMaker (1997), Rough for Theatre I (2000), Moonglow (2000), Puckoon (2002), and Mystics (2003).  He appeared on television in such shows as The Commish, CheersFraiser, Early Edition, Spin City, Oz, Madigan Men, and The West Wing.

Milo O'Shea played a wide variety of roles throughout his career, and he did all of them well. He was an actor who was blessed not only with talent, but also versatility as well. Indeed, not only could he play a number of different roles well, but he was equally adept at both comedy and drama. Mr. O'Shea was easily one of the best things about Barbarella (1968), endowing the role of Durand-Durand with just the right amount of over the top madness high camp requires. At the same time, however, he was equally good in the much more restrained role of Dermot, the thoughtful matchmaker in The MatchMaker (1997). Over the years Milo O'Shea played Bloom in Ulysses, Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet, Inspector Boot in Theatre of Blood, and Judge Hoyle in The Verdict. Over the years Milo O'Shea played everything from doctors to priests to judges to mad scientists, and he did all of them well.

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