NEW YORK -- The Irish actor Milo O'Shea, whose many roles on stage and screen included a friar in Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet," an evil scientist in "Barbarella" and a Supreme Court justice on "The West Wing," has died in New York City. He was 86.

Ireland's arts minister, Jimmy Deenihan, said in a statement announcing O'Shea's death on Tuesday that the Dublin-born actor would be remembered for "groundbreaking" roles, including a performance as Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film adaptation of "Ulysses."

O'Shea also acted on Broadway, playing a gay hairdresser in 1968's "Staircase." He was nominated for Tony Awards twice.

Actor Paul Newman, left, and his daughter Susan visit backstage at the Booth Theater to chat with actors Michael O’Keefe, second from right, and Milo
Actor Paul Newman, left, and his daughter Susan visit backstage at the Booth Theater to chat with actors Michael O'Keefe, second from right, and Milo O'Shea, far right, who appear in the play "Mass Appeal," in New York on March 3, 1982. (Carlos Rene Perez/AP file)

The public knew O'Shea best as a character actor. His bushy eyebrows and white hair made him a favorite of casting directors looking for priests. He played a drunken one on the TV show "Cheers," a pedophilic one in the 1997 film "The Butcher Boy," a charming one in the 1981 Broadway play "Mass Appeal," as well as the tragedy-enabling Friar Laurence in "Romeo and Juliet." He was a judge in the film "The Verdict."

His loony turn as the pleasure-obsessed scientist Durand Durand in the 1968 science fiction romp "Barbarella" inspired a British rock group to name its band after his character. Duran Duran also put him in a concert video.

O'Shea moved to the U.S. in the mid-1970s and was a longtime resident of New York.



Advertisement