John Carroll O’Connor
Carroll O’Connor was born on August 2, 1924, in New York City. His father, Edward Joseph, was a lawyer, and his mother a teacher. Growing up in Elmhurst and Forest Hills, Queens, New York he spent his early years with family.
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Carroll had two brothers, Hugh and Robert. Hugh sadly died in a motorcycle accident. Robert became a psychiatrist.
Carroll O’Connor – Education
Carroll attended Wake Forest University, North Carolina, but left school when World War II broke out. Once the war came to an end, he continued his education at the University of Montana and met Nancy Fields, who eventually became his wife. Although he did not take any drama courses, he acted in various theater productions as a student. He later left that institution for University College Dublin and completed his undergraduate studies there. On July 28, 1951, O’Connor married Nancy Fields in Dublin, Ireland. Subsequently, in 1956, he went back to the University of Montana for a Master’s Degree in Speech.
Carroll appeared in a few theatrical productions in Dublin and New York in the 1950s but first gained traction when he was cast by actor/director Burgess Meredith. He starred in the Off-Broadway performance of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. Carroll’s and Meredith’s friendship lasted until their last days.
Carroll O’Connor – Progress as an Actor
After making his TV debut in two episodes of Sunday Showcase, Carroll was offered other roles on different TV series. He had a successful acting career in the 1960s and early 1970s and is known for his roles in movies like Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Cleopatra (1963). In most of his films, his roles were often police or military officers and he showcased his talents for playing arrogant characters. During the 1960s, Carroll also appeared in episodes of well-known TV shows like The Americans and Naked City among others.
In 1962, while in Rome filming Cleopatra, he and his wife adopted a baby boy. They named him Hugh after one of Carroll’s brothers who had died in an accident.
All in the Family
Carroll O’Connor made his big breakthrough as an actor when he landed the role of Archie Bunker on the endearing TV show All in the Family in 1971.
Please read our in-depth article on All in the Family by clicking the Archie Bunker photo below:
After his son Hugh committed suicide on March 28, 1995 following a long battle with drug addiction, Carroll sought to bring awareness to this taboo topic by appearing in public service announcements for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. He fought tirelessly against illegal street drugs for the rest of his life. The Drug Dealer Civil Liability Act came into effect in 1997, and it mandates drug dealers to pay for the medical care costs and rehabilitation costs they cause while distributing drugs.
In 1998, Carroll underwent another surgery to lessen his risk of stroke. His lifelong battle with diabetes ended on June 21, 2001, when he passed away at age 76.
John Carroll O’Connor’s funeral mass was held at Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Westwood, and he was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. His tombstone reads “Carroll O’Connor” and on it is Hugh’s cenotaph.
Although Carroll O’Connor is gone, he will always be remembered for his on-screen legacy as well as for his fight to better humanity!
More Facts About Carroll O’Connor
- Carrol O’Conner co-wrote the All in the Family closing theme song “Remembering You”
- He quit his cigarette smoking habit in 1989, shortly after having heart bypass and gallbladder surgery
- O’Connor was considered for the role of The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island
- He was rejected by the US Navy Air Corps because of his bad teeth and poor grades. He eventually became a Merchant Seaman
- Fellow actor Burgess Meredith got him a role in an Off-Broadway play called Ulysses in 1950. They became life-long friends
- Carroll personally produced 61 episodes of the hit cop show “In The Heat of the Night” and directed 4 of those shows
- O’Connor’s father was convicted of fraud and served time in Sing-Sing penitentiary in New York.
- After reading the original script for All in the Family, Carroll was so convinced that the show would fail that he asked producers for a round trip plane ticket back to Italy where he was working on other acting projects
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