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‘Modern Family’ Star Ed O’Neill Almost Joined The Mob

Ed O’Neill almost had a life of crime instead of a life of laughs.

In an interview on Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s Dinner’s On Me podcast, the comedy star revealed that he nearly pursued a career in organized crime.

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O’Neill said he was looking for a job in his hometown, Youngstown, Ohio, in 1969 when his childhood friend Jim took him for a drive. “We’re driving and he said,, ‘How you doing? You know, you, you got cut, you got no money,’” O’Neill recalled. “I said, ‘No, I’m broke. You know, I don’t know what I’m going to do.’”

They stopped at a bar. “He started talking to the bartender,” O’Neill said. “He says, ‘I’m looking for this kid, his name is whatever, Demko, his name is Jimmy Demko, do you know him?’ And the guy says, ‘No, it doesn’t ring a bell.’… So he gives him 20, and he says, ‘Look, he’s an old friend of mine, I haven’t seen him in years, you know, I’m looking to reconnect, but I’d like to surprise him. So if he comes in again, you can call this number. You can reach me.’”

It ended with a job offer. “We left and he said, ‘You can do this kind of stuff for me, you know, I’ll protect you,’” he said. “‘I’ll give you easy stuff. Just you collect here. You do that. You run, you drop something off here and there. You know, you may have to lean on a guy. You’re good at that. You can make some good money… I said, ‘Let me think about it, Jim. Cause I’m, I don’t know. I might be leaving town to pursue this acting thing.’

The decision wasn’t easy, O’Neill said. He consulted his father on the job.

“He said,’ I saw you take a ride with Jimmy… I just want to ask you a question. Can you do time?’” O’Neill responded, “No.” “He said, ‘You couldn’t do time. You’d have a hard time being in jail, right?’ I said, ‘No, I don’t think I could do time. He said, ‘Okay.’”

That ended that, O’Neill said.

“I went, and then I called Jimmy, and I thanked him, and I said, ‘I’m going to New York. Yeah. I’m going to try this, this other thing.’”

The rest is TV history.

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