Dick O’Neill; Veteran TV, Movie Actor


Dick O’Neill, the character actor best remembered as Chris Cagney’s father, Charlie, on the television series “Cagney & Lacey,” has died. He was 70.

O’Neill, whose stage, screen and television credits spanned 50 years, died Nov. 17 at St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica.

The New York-born actor studied at Syracuse University, then began his career on stage. He met his wife, Jackie Shaw O’Neill, during a run of “The Sound of Music” at the Westbury Music Theater on New York’s Long Island, in which he played Uncle Max and she performed on the piano.


O’Neill worked on Broadway for many years, appearing in such hits as “Promises, Promises,” and “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and on other stages in such classics as “Inherit the Wind,” “A Man for All Seasons,” “South Pacific,” “Fanny,” “The Music Man” and “The Pajama Game.”

He appeared in stage versions of “The Front Page” and moved to Los Angeles in 1974 to appear in the motion picture.

Among O’Neill’s screen credits were “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” “The Buddy Holly Story” and “Prizzi’s Honor.”

If not a household name, O’Neill at least became a familiar face in living rooms across America with his myriad roles on television. In recent years, in addition to “Cagney & Lacey,” he was seen repeatedly as Art Leonard on “Home Improvement,” Cmdr. Geiss on “Family Matters,” Roy Thorpe on “Cybill” and Mr. Waring on “Dharma & Greg.”

Over the years, he also acted in such hit series as “MASH,” “Cheers,” “Trapper John, M.D.,” “Falcon Crest,” “Magnum, P.I.,” “Father Dowling” and “Mad About You.”

O’Neill was a popular actor in television movies for several decades, and was most recently seen as Pop in “I Married a Monster” earlier this year.

O’Neill is survived by his wife of 34 years; their three daughters, Meghan O’Neill Ruona, Gillian O’Neill and Caitlin O’Neill Bailing.

The family has asked that memorial donations be sent to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, 22212 Ventura Blvd. Suite 300, Woodland Hills, Calif., 91367.