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Tributes to an acting legend who conquered both stage and screen

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Legendary irish Actor Milo O'Shea at the Gaiety Theatre in 2007. Photo: Collins

Legendary irish Actor Milo O'Shea at the Gaiety Theatre in 2007. Photo: Collins

Actor Milo O'Shea has died at the age of 86

Actor Milo O'Shea has died at the age of 86

PA

Actor Milo O'Shea who died at the age of 86 following a short illness.

Actor Milo O'Shea who died at the age of 86 following a short illness.

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Legendary irish Actor Milo O'Shea at the Gaiety Theatre in 2007. Photo: Collins

MILO O'Shea's many admirers have paid tribute to the legendary actor following his death in New York.

Mr O'Shea, who appeared in hit American TV series, 'Cheers', 'Frasier', 'The Golden Girls' and the 'West Wing', as well as a string of films and stage productions, died on Tuesday night in hospital at the age of 86 after a short illness.

He is survived by his wife, actress Kitty Sullivan, with whom he performed in a 1981 Broadway revival of 'My Fair Lady', his sons Colm and Steven, and three grandchildren.

The Dublin native had a long career on stage and screen. He appeared opposite Paul Newman in 'The Verdict' and played a priest in Neil Jordan's adaptation of 'The Butcher Boy'.

Starred

He played the dastardly Dr Durand Durand (who tries to kill Jane Fonda's character by making her literally die of pleasure) in Roger Vadim's 1968 film 'Barbarella', and the 1980s pop band Duran Duran took their name from the character he played. In 1984, O'Shea reprised his role as Dr Durand Durand (credited as Dr Duran Duran) for the concert film 'Arena'.

In the UK, he starred in the BBC comedy 'Me Mammy' during the late 1960s and early 1970s. His ability to play comic roles – he played a shrink to two psychiatrists in Frasier – was highlighted in 2003, when he starred in 'Puckoon', a movie based on a comic novel by Spike Milligan.

Actor Eamon Morrissey said he was one of the "kings of the stage" in Dublin when he was a budding actor over 50 years ago.

The 'Fair City' actor said he and 'Father Ted' star Frank Kelly had been reminiscing about how kind he was to them during their fledgling careers.

"When I started out in the 1960s, he was one of the towers of the theatre," he said. "Frank remembers many of the same things about him.

"He took comedy so seriously, but he was not just a knockabout comic actor. He could be anyone he wanted if he put his mind to it."

He said he was in reviews with him and the BBC sitcom, 'Me Mammy', which was a huge hit, while Frank appeared with him in musicals.

"I was admiring those wonderful eyes of his when I saw him on the TV today," said Mr Morrissey. "His work rate was incredible. He never stopped working, even when everyone else was going to bed."

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan said he was saddened by news of the death of "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," he said.

He said his portrayal of Leopold Bloom in 'Ulysses' was a highlight of his film career, while his performance in Zeffirell's 'Romeo and Juliet' also stands out.

"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," he said.

"I would like to express my deep condolences to his family, and to his many friends, at this time."

Educated at Synge Street, the actor was discovered in the 1950s by Harry Dillon, who ran the 37 Theatre Club on O'Connell Street in Dublin.

He began his career at the Gate and Gaiety theatres before moving to New York in the 1970s, where he lived since.

The actor moved into film in the 1960s and starred in BBC sitcom 'Me Mammy' with Yootha Joyce, and then as Leopold Bloom in Joseph Strick's 1967 film version of James Joyce's 'Ulysees'.

He guest-starred in the finale of the hugely successful sitcom 'Cheers' in 1992, and also had guest roles in 'The Golden Girls', 'Spin City' and 'St Elsewhere'.

Mr O'Shea was previously married to the late 'Glenroe' actress Maureen Toal. The couple divorced in 1974.

Irish Independent