James O'Neill (born November
15, 1847, Kilkenny, Ireland; died August
10, 1920, New London,
States) was an actor and the father
of the American playwright Eugene O'Neill.
During his day, he was considered a promising actor, quickly
working his way up the ranks to become a matinee idol. He shared
stages with such renowned actors as Charlotte Cushman
, Edwin Forrest
, and Adelaide Neilson
said he was the best Romeo she ever had. As early as 1875, while a
stock star at Hooley's Theatre in Chicago, O'Neill played the title
role in a stage adaptation of Dumas
' The Count of Monte Cristo.
great commercial success, he went on to play this role about 6000
times. Some, including Eugene
O'Neill's willingness to play the role so many times as selling out
— squandering the potential of his art in order to make
James O'Neill later became the model for James
, the frugal, mercurial, unseeing father character
in Eugene O'Neill's posthumous autobiographical play Long Day's Journey Into
, which tells the story of the Tyrone family, which
closely resembles the O'Neill family.
Married to Ellen Quinlan
on June 14,
1877, daughter of Thomas Quinlan and wife Bridget, both also of
ancestry, he had three sons:
James (b. 1878), Edmond (b. 1883) and Eugene O'Neill
aged 72, at the family home in Connecticut.