Kevin O’Neal, the younger brother of actor Ryan O’Neal who for a time built a steady, if less widely known, performing career of his own, died overnight January 28 in his sleep of natural causes in Thousand Oaks, CA. He was 77.
His death was announced by his nephew Patrick O’Neal, Ryan O’Neal’s son.
“Kevin had a wicked sense of humor, just like his older brother, and we have his stories to keep him in our hearts forever,” Patrick O’Neal wrote on Instagram, adding, “When Kevin walked into a room you heard him before you saw him. That energy and personality is an old O’Neal trademark. Heaven better be ready for him!”
Kevin O’Neal began his television career in the early 1960s, making guest appearances on such series as The Danny Thomas Show, The Donna Reed Show, The Twilight Zone, My Tree Son and Wagon Train. His most lasting role arrived in 1964 when he starred in the one-season TV adaptation of the novel, play and film No Time For Sergeants (Andy Griffith had starred in both the stage and film versions).
The decade would see continued appearances on episodic TV – Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Mod Squad, among others, closing out with a role opposite Elvis Presley in the latter’s 1969 feature film The Trouble With Girls.
Born Geoffrey Garrett O’Neal in Los Angeles, Kevin would retire from show business by the late 1970s, but not before appearing in small roles in several high-profile movies starring his older brother: Love Story in 1970, The Thief Who Came to Dinner in 1973 and, most memorably, What’s Up Doc? in 1972. In the latter, he played a hapless, long-haired bicycle delivery boy who gets caught up in the riotous car chase headed by Ryan O’Neal’s Howard Banister and Barbra Streisand’s Judy Maxwell.
He is survived by son Garrett; brother Ryan; niece Tatum; and nephews Griffin and Patrick.
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