‘Married… with Children’ star Ed O Neill admits he ‘messed up’ with co-star feud

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“Married… with Children” alum Ed O’Neill reflected on his favorite memories and lingering regrets from his time on the hit sitcom.

The 77-year-old actor starred as Al Bundy in the raunchy and sometimes controversial show for 11 seasons from 1987 to 1997. The cast also included Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, David Faustino, David Garrison, Amanda Bearse and Ted McGinley.

During an interview with Fox News Digital, O’Neill, who recently appeared in the PBS documentary series “Finding Your Roots,” shared his thoughts on what he missed most about “Married… with Children.”

“I miss the laughs that we got even rehearsing it,” he said.

ed oneill against black background

“Married… with Children” alum Ed O’Neill admitted that he “messed up” in his feud with co-star Amanda Bearse. (Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Acur)

The “Modern Family” star continued, “The two guys that created it, Michael Moye and Ron Leavitt, were really comedic geniuses, and they were very unusual guys. I mean, they weren’t your run-of-the-mill comedy writers.”


“They were very unusual and interesting people,” O’Neill added. “So I missed that. I missed the cast. I’m still in touch with Christina and David and Katey and not so much Amanda or David Garrison because they’re not around.”

“Dave is in New York and Amanda’s in, I think Atlanta, for the most part, or Georgia anyway, so yeah, I missed that and it was a funny show to do.”

married with children cast

O’Neill played Al Bundy on the show from 1987 to 1997. (Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

O”Neill, who became a household name with his star-making turn as Al Bundy, shared that he was grateful since the success of “Married… with Children” led to other career opportunities.

“I’m so thankful for that show,” O’Neill said. “Without that show – I mean, it’s like everything else. “It’s like links.”

“And it’s a lot of luck,” he said. “And you have to kind of put yourself in the way of it, right? And hope for the best.”

“I’ve been extremely lucky,” the Ohio native added.

During his interview with Fox News Digital, O’Neill addressed his infamous on-set feud with his longtime “Married… with Children” co-star Bearse. 

In a recent appearance on his former “Modern Family” co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s podcast “Dinner’s On Me,” O’Neill said the origin of their falling out stemmed from a disagreement over a TV Guide cover.

On the left, a picture of the Bundy family from "Married...With Children." On the right, additional characters Amanda Bearse and Ted McGinley as Jefferson and Marcy DArcy with the Bundy family.

On the left, a picture of the Bundy family from “Married… with Children.” On the right, additional characters Amanda Bearse and Ted McGinley as Jefferson and Marcy D’Arcy with the Bundy family. (Getty Images)

O’Neill, Sagal, Applegate and Faustino appeared on the July-August 1989 cover while Bearse and Garrison, who played supporting characters Marcy D’Arcy and Steve Rhoades, were not featured.

“They were told they could not be on the cover,” O’Neill told Ferguson of Bearse and Garrison. 

“Because they had a rule: there’s only so many [that] can be on the cover,” he said of TV Guide’s restrictions. “Now they violated that for like two shows, I think it was ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘Dallas.’

“That was an exception. They weren’t doing it for us. And we were lucky to get it. It was like the sixth year in or something,” he said of “Married… with Children.” “We were thrilled to get the cover of TV Guide. It was big. And Amanda and David came out in unison from their dressing room. We were on the soundstage, and she said, ‘We expect you to go to Ron Leavitt and tell him this doesn’t work. We’re all on the cover.'”

“If I was diplomatic, I should have said, ‘Fine. I’ll talk to him about it,'” O’Neill suggested.

“But instead, I said, ‘No. I’m not doing that. I’m sorry you guys aren’t on the cover. I really am! I wish you were! But we can’t do anything about it. What do you want me to do, lie to you, and tell you that you know, I’m going to go to bat for you? I’m not,'” he remembered thinking. 

“That’s my regret,” O’Neill told Ferguson, admitting he would have done things differently in retrospect.

WATCH: ‘Married…with Children’ star Ed O’Neill explains what he misses about filming the sitcom

While speaking with Fox News Digital, O’Neill elaborated on his remarks, saying he had been “misquoted.”

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“Yes, the TV Guide thing happened,” he admitted. “I wasn’t sorry for that decision.”

He continued, “If I was smarter, I would have said to them, the two of them, because their feelings were hurt. I would have said, ‘Look, let me go to Ron and talk to him, OK?’ I should have done that. But instead of that, I said, ‘Hey, no. This isn’t for us, the actors. This is for the whole show. This is for the grips and the makeup and the hair and the guy that drags the cable.’

“And this makes our show [have] a longer life, maybe,” O’Neill explained. “That was how I looked at it. I’d played lesser roles. I didn’t give a s— about being on the cover. I would have said, ‘Why don’t you leave me off the cover and say, ‘Al’s stuck at work, and we took the photo without him.’ That would have been funnier, and I wouldn’t have to work that day taking the pictures. I would have done that.”

However, O’Neill told Fox News Digital that their rift deepened following a later incident. The three-time Emmy Award nominee recalled that he “messed up” after Bearse excluded him from the guest list for her wedding when she married her wife, Carrie Schenken, in 2010.

“Following that, Amanda was getting married,” he remembered. “Now, in those days, this was a novelty. I mean, I shouldn’t call it a novelty – it was new. And didn’t invite me to the wedding. And my feelings were hurt. So when I asked her about it, and she said, ‘Well, it was a tough call.’ And I kind of thought, ‘Are you confusing me with Al Bundy?’

“You know, I didn’t say that, but that’s what I felt like,” O’Neill recalled. “‘Why? What do you mean? What do you think, I’m a Neanderthal or something?’ So I was angry.”

Ed ONeill looks off in the distance with black frame glasses on

O’Neill said he regrets his feud with Bearse and wishes he had handled one incident differently. (Anna Pocaro/IndieWire/Penske Media via Getty Images)

Looking back, O’Neill admitted that he reacted poorly to the snub and wished that he had responded differently.

“If I had it to do over again, I would have said, ‘Amanda, all the best. It’s your call. It’s your wedding. You have who you want there.’ But instead, I lashed out. I said something that I thought – it was a joke, but it was a mean joke, you know? I wish I had that to do over. That’s my biggest regret about that. I didn’t handle that well. I know that.”

In a 2013 interview with Television Academy, O’Neill recalled that he and Faustino were the only “Married… with Children” cast members who were not invited to Bearse’s wedding.

He remembered having a conversation with Bearse in which she told him that leaving them off the guest list was a “tough call” but she thought they would be “snickering and finding it funny” when she and Schenken walked down the aisle in tuxedos.

“I said, ‘Amanda, what is funny about two women in tuxedos, walking down to church?’ ” he recalled.

“I started laughing, and she said, ‘See!’ And I said, ‘Well, you know why? Because it is f—— funny, and I’m not going to be the only one that doesn’t think so.’ But it was funny. She had a little white tux and, to me, it was funny. But in other words, she may not have been wrong in excluding me.”

Amanda Bearse with grey and white spiky hair wearing a black suit and white top

ONeill said he reacted poorly when Bearse did not invite him to her wedding. (Jerod Harris/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images)

During his interview with Fox News Digital, O’Neill said he had not really reconnected with Bearse since that time.

“I went up to her and said goodbye when we were finished,” he recalled. But, I mean, listen, we got along great for the first several years. And when she decided to direct the shows – she started with our show.”


He continued, “All the cast got together and said, ‘Let’s make it a great experience for her. Let’s work our a—- off so that she is successful. I mean, we had that kind of thing. So whatever happened – all I can point to is the TV Guide thing, which they were extremely upset about, and I don’t blame them.”

“But the TV Guide – we weren’t ‘M*A*S*H.’ We weren’t ‘Dallas.’ That’s the only two shows that they made an exception for,” O’Neill noted. “So that’s what happened. It was just one of those unfortunate things. She was great on the show. I loved working with Amanda. We were funny together on the show. Same with David. And when David quit the show, I took him out to lunch and practically begged him not to go. So listen, it’s show business.”

WATCH: ‘Married… with Children’ star Ed O Neill’ on whether he has reconnected with co-star Amanda Bearse

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Fast-forward to today, O’Neill and former Van Halen rocker Sammy Hagar appeared on a recent episode of PBS’s “Finding Your Roots.” The documentary TV series, hosted by historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., follows celebrities as they uncover the hidden secrets of their ancestries.

During his interview with Fox News Digital, O’Neill explained why it was important for him to take part in the series and delve into his family history.

“First of all, I really enjoyed the show,” he said. “I love the show and I love Sammy Hagar. I don’t know Sammy. I mean, of course, I know who he is. And I really enjoyed his story.”

O’Neill explained that he had been curious about his own family roots since childhood.


 “I lived in a – I guess you would call it an Irish community because, you know, we were insular,” he said. “I think they got here in, like, the 1850s. But it was a neighborhood that was all pretty much all Irish and all my relatives would talk about the old country or banshees sitting on roofs before somebody died and all this stuff.”

“I think I was 4 years old when I would say, ‘What is a banshee and what do you mean, old country?'” O’Neill continued. “So I was so curious. Or like I had an aunt that had a brogue and I would say, ‘Why does she talk funny?’”

“And of course, I’ve been watching this show now religiously for three or four years anyway,” he added. “And I saw so many of those stories where the person being interviewed would say, ‘I didn’t know that my family was in Auschwitz.’ You know, I mean, it was like a shock. And so that for me, when I did this show, I said to Henry, you know, Skippy, I said, ‘How come there’s not a whole lot on the O’Neills?’

WATCH: Ed O’Neill explains why it was important for him to learn about his family history on ‘Finding Your Roots’

O’Neill recalled that Gates explained to him that many of his ancestors had perished in the Great Famine, a time of starvation and disease that plagued Ireland from 1845 to 1852.


“He said, ‘A lot of them didn’t make it from the west of Ireland.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean, the famine?’ I mean, I put it right together. And he said, ‘Yeah, the famine. A million people starved to death.’ That’s a lot of people on a little island,” O’Neill stated, noting he “was always curious,” and was finally told that “all the records were lost.”

Fox News Digital’s Caroline Thayer contributed to this report.

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