Oscar Actors: O’Herlihy, Dan–Background, Career, Awards

December 1, 2020
Dan O’Herlihy Career Summary:

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Education: University College Dublin, 1944, degree in Architecture


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TV Debut:

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Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: Odd Man Out, 1947; aged 28

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1954; aged 35

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Screen Image: character actor

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Daniel Peter O’Herlihy (May 1, 1919 – February 17, 2005) was an Irish film actor, known for such roles as Brigadier General Warren A. “Blackie” Black in Fail Safe, Marshal Ney in Waterloo, Conal Cochran in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, “The Old Man” in RoboCop, and Andrew Packard in Twin Peaks.

He was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for the 1954 film Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

O’Herlihy was born in Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland, in 1919. His family moved to Dublin when he was at a young age. He was educated at Christian Brothers College in Dún Laoghaire and later studied at University College Dublin, graduating in 1944 with a degree in Architecture.

O’Herlihy’s first acting role came in 1944, when he played the lead in the play, Red Roses For Me, written and directed by Seán O’Casey.

He first appeared in film in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out in 1947.

His first American film role was as Macduff in Orson Welles’ version of Macbeth (1948).[3] In 1952, he starred in the Red Scare film Invasion, U.S.A. and, in 1954 in Luis Buñuel’s Robinson Crusoe, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.[3] O’Herlihy recalled that the producers of the film wanted Buñuel to use Orson Welles for the role, with Buñuel refusing, saying he was too big and too fat.[3] They arranged a screening of Welles’ Macbeth to show how a bearded Welles would look but Buñuel demanded O’Herlihy who appeared in the film.[4]

O’Herlihy was later featured in The Young Land in 1959 as Judge Millard Isham. In 1960, he played Sir Harry Ivers, an upper-class English drifter who joins Alan Ladd in a plot to ruin an Arizona cattle town by robbing its bank in the western One Foot in Hell. In 1964, he starred in Fail Safe in the role of General Black, or “Blackie”. In 1969, he was cast in The Big Cube and 100 Rifles. In 1970, he starred in the epic Waterloo, playing the part of Michel Ney, the Marshal of France. In 1982, he starred in Halloween III: Season of the Witch as Conal Cochran and in 1984, he appeared in The Last Starfighter as Grig, Alex Rogan’s reptilian copilot, navigator, and sidekick. In 1986’s The Whoopee Boys he played a judge and in 1987, he appeared in RoboCop as “The Old Man”. That same year, he was cast in John Huston’s The Dead. In 1990, he appeared in RoboCop 2, the sequel to the 1987 film.

O’Herlihy had a fairly extensive career in television, having appeared in such shows as CBS’s anthology series, CBS’s Rawhide, as John Cord in “The incident at Dragoon Crossing”, which aired in October 1960, The DuPont Show with June Allyson, on Adventures in Paradise and the crime drama, Target: The Corruptors!, both on ABC. He portrayed Larry “Ace” Banner in the first season of another ABC series, The Untouchables in the episode entitled “The Big Squeeze”. He was cast as Stephen Jordan in the last season of CBS’s Checkmate episode ” “Referendum on Murder”. He also appeared on NBC’s The Americans and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Fiddlesticks Affair” and “The Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum Affair” and on the CBS series Route 66 in the episode “To Walk with the Serpent” as the show’s antagonist John Westerbrook. In 1962, he was cast as Glenn Kassin in “The Earth Mover” episode of the modern NBC western series, Empire. He appeared on another NBC western that same year: Bonanza (Episode: “The Artist” as Matthew Raine).

In 1963–1964, he appeared as the wandering gold-seeker father, “Doc” Sardius McPheeters, in the ABC western series The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters with co-star Kurt Russell as Doc’s son, Jaimie. On another ABC series, The Long, Hot Summer, O’Herlihy became the lead star, having replaced Edmond O’Brien in the part of Will Varner midway through the program’s one-season run. In 1966, he appeared in the episode “Have You Seen the Aurora Borealis?” of NBC’s western series The Road West, starring Barry Sullivan. In 1974 he appeared in QB VII, and played the Senior American Officer, Col. Max Dodd in the second series of BBC’s POW drama Colditz. In 1976, he guest-starred in an episode of NBC’s dramatic series Gibbsville. In 1978, he guest-starred in the second part of the Battlestar Galactica episode “Gun on Ice Planet Zero” as Dr. Ravishol. O’Herlihy also portrayed the ill-fated lumber tycoon Andrew Packard in the cult television program Twin Peaks (1991), and in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Deep Freeze”, voicing the villainous theme park mogul Grant Walker. In 1998, O’Herlihy acted in his last film, The Rat Pack, playing Joseph P. Kennedy Sr..[4]

Dan O’Herlihy married Elsie Bennett in 1945. He was the brother of director Michael O’Herlihy (1929–1997) and the father of actor Gavan O’Herlihy, visual artist Olwen O’Herlihy, and architect Lorcan O’Herlihy. He and his wife had 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. One grandchild, Mica O’Herlihy, is a filmmaker whose work has been shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Another, Alana O’Herlihy is a photographer and director who has collaborated with Miley Cyrus. O’Herlihy became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1983.

He was a Democrat.

O’Herlihy died of natural causes in Malibu, California, in 2005, aged 85 surrounded by his children and grandchildren.

His personal papers are held in the University College Dublin Archives.

Complete filmography
Hungry Hill (1947) – Harry Brodrick
Odd Man Out (1947) – Nolan
Macbeth (1948) – Macduff
Larceny (1948) – Duke
Kidnapped (1948) – Alan Breck
The Iroquois Trail (1950) – Lt. Blakely
Soldiers Three (1951) – Sgt. Murphy
The Highwayman (1951) – Robin
The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) – Commando Captain (uncredited)
The Blue Veil (1951) – Hugh Williams
The Last Half Hour: The Mayerling Story (1951, TV movie) – Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria
At Sword’s Point (1952) – Aramis Jr.
Actor’s and Sin (1952) – Alfred O’Shea / Narrator (segment “Actor’s Blood”)
Operation Secret (1952) – Mike Duncan
Invasion, U.S.A. (1952) – Mr. Ohman
Sword of Venus (1953) – Danglars
Robinson Crusoe (1954) – Robinson Crusoe / Crusoe’s father
The Black Shield of Falworth (1954) – Prince Hal
Bengal Brigade (1954) – Capt. Ronald Blaine
The Purple Mask (1955) – Brisquet
The Virgin Queen (1955) – Lord Derry
That Woman Opposite (1957) – Dermot Kinross
Home Before Dark (1958) – Arnold Bronn
Imitation of Life (1959) – David Edward
The Young Land (1959) – Judge Millard Isham
A Terrible Beauty (1960) – Don McGinnis
One Foot in Hell (1960) – Sir Harry Ivers
The Big Bankroll (1961) – Detective Phil Butler
To Walk with the Serpent (1962, TV Series, Route 66) – John Westerbrook
The Cabinet of Caligari (1962) – Caligari / Paul
Fail Safe (1964) – General Black
How to Steal the World (1969) – Prof. David Garrow
100 Rifles (1969) – Steven Grimes
The Big Cube (1969) – Charles Winthrop
Waterloo (1970) – Marshal Michel Ney
The People (1972, TV movie) – Sol Diemus
The Carey Treatment (1972) – J. D. Randall
The Tamarind Seed (1974) – Fergus Stephenson
Banjo Hackett: Roamin’ Free (1976, TV movie) – Tip Conaker
The Quest: The Longest Drive (1976, TV movie) – Mathew Hatcher
Good Against Evil (1977, TV movie) – Father Kemschler
MacArthur (1977) – President Roosevelt
Deadly Game (1977, TV movie) – Colonel Edward Stryker
Woman on the Run (1977, TV movie) Crandell
Mark Twain: Beneath the Laughter (1979, TV movie) – Mark Twain
Death Ray 2000 (1981, TV movie) – The Director
Artemis 81 (1981, TV movie) – Albrecht Von Drachenfels
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – Conal Cochran
The Last Day (1983, TV movie) – American Ambassador
The Secret Servant (1984, TV Series) – Prof. John Tyler
The Last Starfighter (1984) – Grig
The Whoopee Boys (1986) – Judge Stenrhill
Dark Mansions (1986, TV movie) – Alexander Drake
RoboCop (1987) – The Old Man
The Dead (1987) – Mr. Browne
A Waltz Through the Hills (1988, TV movie) – Uncle Tom
RoboCop 2 (1990) – The Old Man
Twin Peaks (1990) – Andrew Packard
Love, Cheat & Steal (1993) – Hamilton Fisk
The Rat Pack (1998, TV movie) – Joe Kennedy