Edward R. Egan (January 3, 1930 – November 4, 1995) was an American actor and police detective.
Edward R. Egan was born in Queens, New York on January 3, 1930 to Irish-American parents. Raised by his grandmother after being orphaned at age 12, he joined the United States Marine Corps in 1947. After his discharge, he played baseball for the New York Yankees’ Triple-A club in 1950, but he was recalled to active duty for the Korean War. After his second discharge, he joined the New York City Police Department (NYPD) in 1955.
His career with the NYPD spanned 15 years, and he was reported to have been responsible for more than 8,000 arrests. Among his exploits, Egan (along with his partner Sonny Grosso and other NYPD detectives) broke up an organized crime ring in 1961, seizing 112 pounds of heroin, a record amount at the time. The investigation was chronicled in a 1969 book, The French Connection, by Robin Moore.
The book was adapted to a motion picture of the same name, released in 1971. The movie was highly fictionalized and very successful. The character based on Egan, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, was played by Gene Hackman who won an Academy Award for his performance (the film also won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Editing). The character was called “Popeye” because that was Egan’s nickname in real life. Egan played a role in the movie as Hackman’s supervisor, Simonson. Egan and Grosso were also technical advisors. Hackman reprised this role in the sequel film French Connection II in 1975, which depicts a fictionalized story.
Soon after the film was released, Egan asked to retire from the NYPD. On his retirement day in November 1971, he was fired for failing to make court appearances in conjunction with his cases and for failing to turn in contraband weapons and narcotics, losing him his pension benefits. He won an appeal and his pension was reinstated.
In 1973 another film, called Badge 373, with Robert Duvall playing the role of Egan, was released detailing Egan’s career. Also in 1973, ABC ordered and aired a television pilot entitled Egan, this time with Eugene Roche playing Egan, a tough NYPD cop transferred to Los Angeles…but it failed to go to series. In 1986, Fox developed Popeye Doyle, a proposed series based on the fictionalized character from the two films rather than Egan himself…with Ed O’Neill playing the title character. While the series was never produced, the pilot was broadcast as an NBC-TV Movie, and has been shown in syndication.
After retiring from the NYPD, Egan became a full-time actor, usually playing law enforcement figures. He portrayed the head of the NYPD’s Son of Sam task force in the 1985 movie Out of the Darkness, and throughout his career he played roles in more than 20 movies and television series. He moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1984.
Egan died of colon cancer at the University of Miami Cancer Center, at the age of 65. He was engaged to Cheryl Kyle-Little at the time.
|1971||The French Connection||Captain Walt Simonson|
|1973||Badge 373||Lieutenant Scanlon|
|1974||Let’s Go for Broke||Himself|
|1987||Cold Steel||Lieutenant Hill|
|1972||Mannix||Lieutenant Paul Haber||Episode: “The Open Web”|
|1972||Night of Terror||Lieutenant Costin||Television film|
|1973||McCloud||Al Barber||Episode: “Showdown at the End of the World”|
|1975||Cop on the Beat||Sergeant Malone||Television film|
|1975–1976||Joe Forrester||Sergeant Bernie Vincent||22 episodes|
|1975–1977||Police Woman||Captain / Jack Ballard / Brock||3 episodes|
|1975–1977||Police Story||Ron Butler / Lieutenant Holtzman / Captain R.E. Mead / Sean McLiam / Sergeant Harry Volmer / Malone||6 episodes|
|1977||Baretta||Thompson||Episode: “Don’t Kill the Sparrows”|
|1978||To Kill a Cop||Chief Ed Palmer||Television film|
|1979||David Cassidy: Man Undercover||Detective Riggs||Episode: “Nightwork”|
|1979–1980||Eischied||Chief Inspector Ed Parks||12 episodes|
|1980||Police Story: Confessions of a Lady Cop||Captain Harrison||Television film|
|1981||Crazy Times||Bartender||Television film|
|1983||T. J. Hooker||Max Silver||Episode: “Requiem for a Cop”|
|1983||Murder Me, Murder You||Hennessey||Television film|
|1984||Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer||Hennessey||7 episodes|
|1985||Out of the Darkness||Tom Duncan||Television film|
|1987||Houston Knights||Episode: “Mirrors”|
|1989||True Blue||Detective||Episode: “Pilot: Part 1”|