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‘West Wing’ actor Milo O’Shea dies at 86

Credit: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Credit: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Veteran Irish character actor Milo O’Shea, best known to American audiences from his role as Chief Justice Roy Ashland on NBC’s ‘The West Wing’, has passed away in a New York hospital at age 86 following a short illness.

The actor had a long and storied career, including roles as Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film adaptation of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in 1967, 1960s BBC sitcom ‘Me Mammy’, and roles stateside on comedies from ‘The Golden Girls’ to ‘Frasier’, and dramas from ‘Oz’ to ‘The West Wing’.

O’Shea lived in New York, where he moved in 1976, though the actor was born in Dublin.

He is survived by his wife, actress Kitty Sullivan, his son Colm and wife Deirdre, and his son Steven and his partner Melanie Carrick, as well as his three grandchildren. He was previously married to Glenroe actor Maureen Toal before divorcing in 1974. Toal passed away last year.

Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan spoke in tribute of O’Shea, proclaiming him “a giant of stage and screen”.

“During his career in theatre and film, both at home and abroad, he is remembered for the quality of his performances in a range of challenging and often ground-breaking roles,” said Deenihan.

Mr. Deenihan made particular note of O’Shea’s role as Leopold Bloom as a career highlight, in addition to his performance in Zeffirell’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The Minister for Arts also spoke fondly of O’Shea’s work in television.

“Over his life, he reached the widest audiences from across the globe – on stage, on film, and on television – and was internationally recognised for the quality of his work”.

“I would like to express my deep condolences to his family, and to his many friends,” Mr Deenihan concluded.

Though his best-known work was predominantly in film and television, O’Shea also had a varied list of stage work on his resume, including the 1967-68 drama ‘Staircase’, directed by Barry Morse and co-starring Eli Wallach in one of Broadway’s first serious depictions of homosexual men.

“Milo just had it all,” and his versatility singled him out, Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan said today, while actor Eamon Morrissey said he was “so helpful to young actors” in Dublin, noting that his comic timing was “wonderful”, and adding, “He could play comedy seriously.”

Via: The Irish Times

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