Obituary of Timothy J. O’Connor
Timothy J. O’Connor, who had a long and distinguished career as one of the leading character actors of his generation, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday, April 5th, in his longtime home in Nevada City, California, at the age of 90.
O’Connor is survived by his wife Sheila MacLurg O’Connor, his son Timothy O’Connor, and three stepsons.
The actor rose from the streets of the South Side of Chicago to have one of the more remarkable careers in Hollywood. O’Connor’s deft ability to play a wide variety of characters put him in great demand, and his resume’ included appearances on such iconic television shows as All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, General Hospital, Dynasty, and Star Trek. O’Connor was one of the busiest actors on Broadway before becoming one of the busiest actors on television and appeared in numerous films.
During the 1950’s and early 1960’s he costarred onstage, or in videotaped productions for television, with such thespian luminaries as Sir Laurence Olivier, George C. Scott, Edward G. Robinson, Jessica Tandy, Maximilian Schell, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff.
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O’Connor commuted to New York from a small, one-house island he shared with his first wife, Mary Foskett (1957-1974), located in the center of Glen Wild Lake near Bloomingdale, New Jersey.
When Hollywood came calling in 1965, O’Connor moved to Santa Monica, California, and gained national recognition as one of the stars in television’s first prime-time soap opera, Peyton Place. He starred as Elliot Carson in more than 400 episodes of the hit series over three years.
He was always in great demand as a character actor. In addition to the hit shows listed above, the well-known television series O’Connor also appeared in include: Columbo, The Rockford Files, Hawaii Five-0, The Fugitive, The Outer Limits, Father Dowling Mysteries, The A-Team, Dukes of Hazzard, Wonder Woman, The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Knight Rider, Trapper John, M.D., Maude, Walker, Texas Ranger and Murder, She Wrote. From 1979 to 1980, O’Connor starred as Dr. Elias Heuer on the classic science fiction series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. O’Connor also had a recurring role in Doogie Howser, M.D., from 1990-91. O’Connor’s film credits include: The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972), Across 110th Street (1972), Sssssss (1973) and Naked Gun
2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991.) O’Connor was so adept at playing stern authority figures that he was often cast as ruthless businessmen and police and military officers. But he never felt typecast, saying in a 2010 interview with the website Classic TV History (https://classictvhistory.wordpress. com/2010/02/26/an-interview-with-tim-oconnor/), “Well, I never thought of it like that. I just took whatever came along. I never thought in terms of type. I played so many different kinds of guys.”
That tough guy image onscreen, however, was in marked contrast to his loving and affable nature in real life. O’Connor married his second wife, Sheila, in 1979. She lived three doors down the street in Santa Monica Canyon. They moved to Nevada City in 1982 where they shared a happy life in a home in the hills.
The actor continued to work in Hollywood until 1997 but he never really retired. He continued his love affair with the stage by serving as a director
for Nevada City’s Foothill Theater Company. He was also co-founder of the town’s Children’s Theater. In 2017, The Union (https://www.theunion. com/entertainment/readers-theatre-storytellers- on-stage-at-miners-foundry/) called O’Connor “the driving force behind the Reader’s Theatre program for more than 25 years.” The program held dramatic readings inside the Miners Foundry, built during the gold rush in 1855. O’Connor’s last appearance on screen was in the 2011 film Dreams Awake, in which he co-starred with former Buck Rogers co-star Erin Gray.
O’Connor was tremendously loved by friends and family. He is fondly remembered as a loving husband and father, exceptionally gentle and kind, and with a quick wit that was sharp but always civil, befitting his ever-gentlemanly demeanor.
He was widely adored in Nevada City. The Union observed, “Not only does O’Connor love the community, the community loves him back.” “Tim is one of the most humble and gracious men I have ever met,” said Gretchen Bond, executive director of the Miners Foundry. “Tim is one of my favorite people,” said Kat Kress, venue coordinator for Readers Theatre. “He is always in a great mood and never fails to brighten my day.”
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