Milo O’Shea, the Irish actor most known for his roles in Barbarella, Ulysses, and TV’s Cheers, has died following a short illness at age 86, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.
The website also noted that O’Shea’s Barbarella character of Dr. Durand Durand was the inspiration for the name of 1980s rock group Duran Duran, and O’Shea even reprised his role for the band’s 1984 concert film Arena.
Those of us who grew up sneaking glances at late-night showings of Barbarella on HBO will recall that it was Dr. Durand Durand’s mission to kill our heroine (Jane Fonda) by overdosing her on pleasure.
The villainous role showcased O’Shea’s gift of comedy that he would continue to exploit throughout his career in roles on the long-running sitcoms Cheers and Frasier.
As Dr. Schachter on Frasier, O’Shea played a couples therapist tasked with the chore of unraveling Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammar) and brother Niles’ (David Hyde Pierce) neuroses over their sibling rivalry.
While O’Shea could bring the funny, he was also adept at straight-line performances, such as his turn as Leopold Bloom in the 1967 film adaptation of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses and his interpretation of Friar Laurence in the Franco Zeffirelli classic Romeo and Juliet.
A closer look at O’Shea’s IMDb resume reveals that his first role came in an uncredited part in the 1940 film Blackout. If that’s true, O’Shea’s death brings to a close a career that spanned 73 years.
His last credited performance came in 2004 as Chief Justice Roy Ashland in The West Wing.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ireland’s Arts Minister said, “During his career in theatre and film, both at home and abroad, he is remembered for the quality of his performances in a range of challenging and often ground-breaking roles.”
O’Shea lived in New York from 1976 forward, and is survived by “his actress wife Kitty Sullivan,” The Telegraph noted, as well as two sons and grandchildren.
Do you remember Milo O’Shea as Dr. Durand Durand? If not, we’ve got a refresher below. What was your favorite of his performances?