'Married With Children' Star Ed O'Neill Says He Nearly Got Hitched To The Mob

Ed O’Neill almost chose the gangster life over acting, he told “Modern Family” co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson this week. (Check out the interview below.)

During Ferguson’s “Dinner’s on Me” podcast Tuesday, O’Neill recalled how being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late 1960s left him few options after he was back home in Youngstown, Ohio.

One of them was organized crime.

His friend Jimmy, who was a so-called “associate,” took him for a ride one day and gave him a glimpse of what he could do to earn money. O’Neill said they went to a restaurant where Jimmy subtly pressed the bartender for the whereabouts of a man because he was an “old friend.” Jimmy offered a $20 bill as incentive, O’Neill said.

Jim then made his pitch to O’Neill, according to the “Married With Children” alum.

“We left and he said, ‘You can do this kind of stuff for me, you know, I’ll protect you, 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.’”

Ed O'Neill with
Ed O'Neill with

Ed O'Neill with "Modern Family" co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2017. O'Neill told Ferguson recently how he nearly joined the mob.

O’Neill said he told Jim he’d think about it, but he was also considering “this acting thing.”

Upon his return home, O’Neill’s father helped him clarify his career choice after he apparently saw his son emerging from Jim’s car.

“He said, ‘I saw you take a ride with Jimmy … I just want to ask you a question. Can you do time?’” O’Neill said he answered “no.”

His father agreed.

“He said, ‘You couldn’t do time. You’d have a hard time being in jail, right?’” O’Neill recalled. “I said, ‘No, I don’t think I could do time.’ He said, ‘OK.”’

Message received. O’Neill said he called Jimmy to tell him “no thanks” and that he was going to New York. The showbiz hopeful landed stage work within months, Page Six reported.

Fast-forward to 11:00 to hear about the offer O’Neill could refuse.