Biography

Pressured by his father to become a policemen like all five of his brothers, American actor Michael O'Shea defied his dad by dropping out of school at age 12, then entered vaudeville in an act with his idol, boxer Jack Johnson. Working the Prohibition years as a comic and emcee in speakeasies, O'Shea organized his own dance band, Michael O'Shea and His Stationary Gypsies. Adopting the professional name Eddie O'Shea, the actor spent the '30s in stock companies and in radio, until accruing good reviews for his 1942 Broadway appearance in The Eve of St. Mark. Somewhat reluctantly, O'Shea entered movies on the strength of his stage work; the one Michael O'Shea film that seems to get the most circulation today is Lady Of Burlesque (1943) in which he played a red-nosed burleyque comic who was the erstwhile boyfriend of stripper Barbara Stanwyck. Bouncing back and forth between Broadway and movies, O'Shea never quite became a star, though he did manage to marry one: Virginia Mayo, with whom he'd appeared in the 1943 film Jack London. O'Shea's film work in the '50s was acceptable, but he was shown to better advantage in the 1955 TV sitcom, It's A Great Life, which though no hit had a great second life in reruns. According to an interview given in 1972 Michael O'Shea fulfilled his father's "policeman" wishes after a fashion by working as an operative for the FBI in the mid '60s, helping to break up a gambling ring plaguing O'Shea's home turf of Ventura County, California. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi