Ed O’Neill was a newly minted 41 year old when Married With Children first came on the air. He’s just three years older than I am right now. Ed kicked major ass back then, and even more 27 years later, now 68 years young. Here are 7 reasons why he kicks major ass, and some lessons to take with you as you go through your Average Married Dad life.
1) He was Al Bundy – He once scored four touchdowns in a single game, but became the typical average family man. Paunch, annoying wife, hates his job and enjoys the quiet moments the nearest toilet provides. Though the show never received much accolades or Nielsen ratings on the upstart Fox station in the mid-80’s, he was more of an everyman’s hero that most men and boys identified with. I was introduced during the run starting from ’87, I enjoyed it through the mid-90’s. A B-list star on a B-list station (at the time). Not necessarily a recipe for success. But Al Bundy (and Ed O’Neill) kicked so much ass.
He was the grumpy kermudgeon everyman identified with (like Clint Eastwood, at least without his racism, in Gran Torino or Archie Bunker) and while he loved and stayed faithful to his wife, he admired many good looking ladies over the years. I could do a whole post on Al Bundy, but being the man who brought him to life, Ed O’Neill will forever be first known for this role.
Takeaway:You can never be Al Bundy, but embrace being yourself, enjoy checking out women and coming home to your wife. Hopefully your attitude of dealing with “relations” with your version of Peg is better than reluctant Al.
2) Dude has coin – Again, despite struggling on a B-Series show earning an unknown amount per episode (by the end Fox was paying an alleged $1.5m per episode, at over 250 episodes if he was making even $5,000 it would be well over $1m total, or $130k per year). If that’s the worst, that’s not great, but if he had the much better $10-30k per episode (Fox has never made the salaries public), they would have made a very nice living even by Hollywood standards and syndication income would continue into perpetuity as long as people still watched (which I recommend). Anyway, being a headliner on Modern Family earns him now something like $200,000 per episode and his net worth is estimated at $40 million. Not an A-list Net Worth but enough for the average man for the rest of his life and to set up his family for a successful life.
Takeaway: If you live a frugal life and invest properly, you may not end up with $40 million, but what about $1 million? Slow and steady will do you very well.
3) He has a hot wife he’s been married to for 28 years– granted, it may be a little on-again, off-again according to some reports, but they’re still married (in Hollywood – different situation) and have been since 1986. And his wife (Catherine Rusoff), 60, still looks pretty damn good. (photo below from 3 years ago and this year). Again, for reference, Ed is 68.
They have a couple of daughters, the latest born when she was 45! Sixty years old is still fairly young today, but she looks much younger and is holding up well after nearly 30 years of marriage.
Takeaway: Take care of yourself and encourage your spouse to take care of themselves so they look good naked.
4) On the Roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers – bet you didn’t know that! In 1969, he was signed by the Steelers, having left Youngstown State University to take a shot, but the 6’1″ defensive lineman was cut in training camp. Though he was only on the roster for a short while, he was at least good enough to hang at that level of football.
Takeaway: Follow your dreams, even if you don’t make it, at least you won’t have any regrets. Life is much worse living with regret a decision not made, than failing at a decision that didn’t work out.
5) He’s a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – As one who studied for a relatively short while (about 1.5 years) under the Alliance Jiu Jitsu banner, I greatly appreciate what a legitimate martial arts BJJ is. This isn’t a McDojo handing out black belts to kids whose parents commit a few thousand dollars over a couple of years to air punch and dance, BJJ is a long, arduous process from white belt to black. It’s hard from the start and get’s harder as you go along. The owner of the facility (I was at) became a black belt last year (overdue) and is only one of maybe 20 in our state. A true accomplishment.
Ed O’Neill is a black belt in BJJ under Rorion Gracie, working at the sport since 1991 (23 years and counting). According to Wiki: In the 2011 TV documentary I Am Bruce Lee, O’Neill states that he considers getting his black belt “the greatest achievement of my life, apart from my children.” The rule of thumb is maybe 10 years of dedicated work to get a black belt. It took O’Neill 15 years to get his. Yeah, under a Gracie from the old school (Rorion is 62, one of the few 9th degree RED BELTS!! in the world and a founder of the UFC, which if you aren’t a MMA historian, BJJ and Gracies dominated early). Don’t fuck with this guy. Great Youtube video of his first lesson (16 years after the fact).
Takeaway: O’Neill didn’t get his black belt until age 61. They typically say it takes 10 years of dedicated work to receive a BJJ black belt, for O’Neill it took him 15, that meant he wouldn’t have started training until about 50 years old. It is NEVER too late to start on your journey to awesomeness. Never forget that your path is never set, there is always time to follow your dream.
6) Modern Family – The patriarch of the family, he’s likely in his last great regular role of his life, though don’t discount him from some great movie role like Eastwood has pulled off. In the show, he’s married to actress Sofia Vergara
For his work on the show, which is really solid dealing with complex family issues (remarriage, stepkids, gay children and so many others that many could expect to see), he’s received nominations for supporting actor Emmy’s the last three years. It may go down as his best work.
Takeway: It is never too late to hone your craft and to become an old gladiator in the business, whether you’re a salesman or a plumber. Work hard, keep your nose grinding and your B-list actor-self can work your way up to headlining a great group of people. The Bogleheads way is slow and steady growth for money, but the same thing applies to your career. Regular, slow, steady improvements yield great results when you look back. As Ed O’Neill and Wooderson both can attest, you’ll keep getting older, but the new players stay the same age.
7) Al Bundy – He’s so awesome he makes it twice on this list. I didn’t have a lot of day-to-day, week-to-week bonding moments with my dad, a regular beta nice guy with his own issues. But we watched this show as a family for several years in my mid- and highschool years. Al was the everyman, wanting more for him and his marriage and his family. Just like you. Just like me. All in our own way. To be left alone to be a man. To be desired by your wife but sometimes needing to get away from her too. Not liking your job some (most?) days, and scheming to find a better way of life.
For all of these reasons, Ed O’Neill will forever be a large influence on my life and how I see the world.
If you really have some time and want to learn more about the dude, check out the Biography on him, Fuckin A’ right man: