Michael O'Shea (March 17, 1906 - December 4, 1973) was an American character actor whose career spanned the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. O'Shea was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Unlike his five brothers who became policemen, he dropped out of school at 12 and began his acting career in vaudeville by touring with boxing idol Jack Johnson's show.
Much like his character from Lady of Burlesque (1943), Biff Brannigan, O'Shea was a comedian and emcee at speakeasies. He put together his own dance band, "Michael O'Shea and His Stationary Gypsies", and later broke into radio and the "legitimate" stage, where he was billed for a time as "Eddie O'Shea". His performance in the 1942 play The Eve of St. Mark led to a string of film roles in the 40s, which included a memorable performance as Barbara Stanwyck's boyfriend comic in Lady of Burlesque. He also received great reviews in 1944 when he reprised his stage role of Private Thomas Mulveray in the film version of The Eve of St. Mark.
After his career in film waned—he was largely out of films by 1952—he took many roles in television. He acted in TV programs such as Ethel Barrymore Theater, Damon Runyon Theater, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, The Revlon Mirror Theater, and Daktari. He also starred in the NBCsitcom television series It's a Great Life from 1954-1956 as Denny Davis, a former GI trying to find a civilian job. Frances Bavier played his landlady.
He was married twice. His first wife was Grace Watts, by whom he had two children. That marriage ended in divorce in 1947.
His second wife was actress Virginia Mayo, whom he married in 1947, and stayed married to until his 1973 death of a heart attack. He met Mayo during the filming of Jack London in 1943. They subsequently appeared on the stock stage together in such productions as George Washington Slept Here, Tunnel of Love and Fiorello!. During their marriage, they had one child, Mary Catherine O'Shea, who was born in 1953.