Michael O'Shea (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Michael O'Shea
from the film Lady of Burlesque (1943)
Born(1906-03-17)March 17, 1906
DiedDecember 4, 1973(1973-12-04) (aged 67)
Years active1930s-1971
Spouse(s)Grace Watts (m.1927-1947);[1] 2 children
Virginia Mayo (m. 1947–1973; his death); 1 child[2]
ChildrenBarbara Watts O'Shea
Catherine Mary O'Shea (b. 1953)[3]

Michael O'Shea (March 17, 1906 – December 4, 1973) was known as an American character actor who appeared in feature films and later in television and whose career spanned the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. O'Shea was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Unlike his five brothers who became policemen, he dropped out of school at 12 and began his acting career in vaudeville by touring with boxing idol Jack Johnson's show.


Much like his character from Lady of Burlesque (1943), Biff Brannigan, O'Shea was a comedian and emcee at speakeasies. He put together his own dance band, "Michael O'Shea and His Stationary Gypsies", and later broke into radio and the "legitimate" stage, where he was billed for a time as "Eddie O'Shea".

His performance in the 1942 play The Eve of St. Mark led to a string of film roles in the '40s, which included a memorable performance as Barbara Stanwyck's boyfriend comic in Lady of Burlesque. He also received great reviews in 1944 when he reprised his stage role of Private Thomas Mulveray in the film version of The Eve of St. Mark. O'Shea starred in Something for the Boys (1944), which showed off his Irish tenor voice and in It's a Pleasure!, playing a hockey star who marries figure skater Sonja Henie.

After his career in film waned - he was largely out of films by 1952 — he took many roles in television. He acted in TV programs such as Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Damon Runyon Theater, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, The Revlon Mirror Theater, and Daktari. He also starred in the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life from 1954-1956 as Denny Davis, a former GI trying to find a civilian job. Frances Bavier played his landlady.

Personal life[edit]

He was married twice. His first wife was Grace Watts, by whom he had two children. That marriage ended in divorce in 1947.

His second wife was actress Virginia Mayo, whom he married in 1947, and to whom he stayed married until his death from a heart attack in 1973. He met Mayo during the filming of Jack London in 1943. They subsequently appeared on the stock stage together in such productions as George Washington Slept Here, Tunnel of Love and Fiorello!. During their marriage, they had one child, Mary Catherine O'Shea, who was born in 1953.

A Republican, he supported Dwight Eisenhower's campaign in the 1952 presidential election.[4]

O'Shea was of the Roman Catholic faith.[5]

Other employment[edit]

O'Shea kept up his bricklayer's card and was a reserve deputy sheriff in the Ventura County Sheriff's Office[6]

O'Shea in Something for the Boys (1944)

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=WQwEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=michael+o%27shea+actor+Grace+Watts&source=bl&ots=8reCqIDW2Y&sig=NZ4lePhZVAD_WEt2ocI4tAVs03Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjYhO2Rp6fMAhUC8j4KHWiYDXAQ6AEIUjAM#v=onepage&q=michael%20o'shea%20actor%20Grace%20Watts&f=false
  2. ^ "Sunday Herald - Google News Archive Search". google.com. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  3. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2229&dat=19550724&id=3WgmAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HAAGAAAAIBAJ&pg=5930,7375929&hl=en
  4. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, December 1952, page 28, Ideal Publishers
  5. ^ Morning News, January 10, 1948, Who Was Who in America (Vol. 2).
  6. ^ p.7 Michael O'Shea is Claimed By Death Beaver County Times 5 Dec 1973

External links[edit]