NEW YORK, Aug. 23 (UPI) — Edward Joseph O’Donnell, the Irish-born father of entertainer Rosie O’Donnell, has died of cancer. He was 81.
People magazine reported the elder O’Donnell’s death Sunday.
He worked as an electrical engineer and later as an aerospace electrical engineer for Fairchild, Schlumberger and Grumman. He was the father of five children, including Rosie, 53.
The comedian has been candid in past interviews about how her father emotionally distanced himself from his kids after his wife died of breast cancer in 1973.
“He had his own issues and demons. He had a very tough childhood. He had an alcoholic, abusive father and never really got the help that I think every person needs when they have lived through that as a child,” Rosie told CNN’s Piers Morgan in 2012. “I think that he had a lot of problems to deal with.”
Rosie made headlines last week when she asked for the public’s help in finding her 17-year-old daughter Chelsea, who had disappeared for seven days. She was found at the home of an alleged heroin addict, who was arrested Friday in New Jersey and charged with child endangerment and communication of obscenity.