Actor Ed O’Neill said that his rift with Married With Children co-star Amanda Bearse was caused by a dispute about a TV Guide cover.
On the podcast of his former Modern Family co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, O’Neill explained that his longtime feud with Bearse started because he wouldn’t stand up for her when the show was selected for a TV Guide cover, but Bearse was not asked to be on it.
“Her and David Garrison were the neighbors, and they were told they could not be on the cover. Because they had a rule: only so many could be on the cover,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said he refused to ask if she and other cast members could be included, fearing that the cover opportunity would be taken away.
Ferguson asked O’Neill if he wishes he could go back in time and advocate for his friend. “Yeah, I would have. And that’s my regret,” O’Neill said.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television in 2013, O’Neill seemed unsure why he and Bearse had fallen out.
“We all get along great,” O’Neill said of the Married With Children cast. “The only one I don’t get along with—and I don’t think I’m the only one—is Amanda. I’m not sure what happened there, because it was wonderful for three years. She was great. I don’t know whose fault it was. We just sort of grew a bit apart… Maybe I reminded her of someone she didn’t like, an uncle or something.”
He said he felt that Bearse, who was one of the first openly gay actors in Hollywood, “changed” when she became “more masculine.”
“I have to say, that when she started out she was gay—she was gay a long time—she was more or less the female in the couple,” O’Neill said. “She was very, very feminine and cute… The change took place where she was the more masculine of the two… As she became more masculine, she became a little more snarky. She could grow a tooth, as we used to say.”
O’Neill says when Bearse married her wife, he and David Faustino were left off the invite list, at which point he asked her why.
“[She said] ‘This was a very tough call, but I just feel that you would find it amusing that me and Becky would come in tuxedos in a church and walk down the aisle, and you and David would be snickering and finding it funny.’ I said, ‘Amanda, what is funny about two women in tuxedos, walking down to church?’ I started laughing and she said, ‘See!’ And I said, ‘Well, you know why? Because it is fucking funny and I’m not going to be the only one that doesn’t think so.’ But it was funny. She had a little white tux and, to me, it was funny. But in other words, she may not have been wrong in excluding me.”
O’Neill admits he got into a huge fight with Bearse in which he accused her on not being smart.
“I said, ‘You’re not very bright, is your problem.’ And she was bright, but in a way she wasn’t because I said look… She said, ‘I’m not bright?’ And I could just see her gearing up, like ‘I’m smarter than you.’ And I said ‘No, because I’ll tell you why. I have a button I could push. That button says ‘Get rid of Amanda Bearse.’ You don’t have a button that says get rid of it Ed O’Neill. Your button doesn’t work. Mine works.’ Now, this was a mean thing to say: I never was going to push that button, but it was true. I could go to them and say ‘I can’t work with her. I go or she does.’ Who goes? So that was kind of bad.”
Bearse appears to still be close with her other Married With Children co-stars and showed up to honor Christina Applegate when she got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2022.