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Modern Family Star Has Unknowing Encounter With THIS Superstar Fan!

Lea Lomas




Ed O’Neill has been a prominent figure on television for longer than we have been alive. Ostensibly known for his work on Married with Children, Ed O’Neill would go on to celebrate extensive success on television and in film thanks projects like Finding Dory and Modern Family. When Mr. O’Neill was patiently waiting in an airport for his flight, a seemingly random fan approached to share her appreciation for his art. What happened next? Not even Ed could have guessed!

Keep on reading to find out what happened after our favorite Modern Family star unknowingly took a picture with a celebrity mega-fan!

Encounter at an Airport

Ed O’Neill looks like the kind of guy used to minding his own business, and that’s just what he was doing while waiting in an airport one chance afternoon. O’Neill has garnered a reputation for not loving public photographs or paparazzi encounters, but Ed made an exception on this occasion. 

As it turns out, this one exception would send shock waves through the entertainment world!

Who Was This Mysterious Fan

Ed had been sitting in a lounge chair waiting to board his flight when a polite woman walked over. She was kind and confident but clearly reluctant to be a bother to Ed. What makes this story surprisingly profound is that the mysterious woman might be more famous than our Modern Family star! Yet for all of her fame, Ed thought that she was just another fan!

Back to the Beginning

There is a reason that Ed is used to getting approached by fans. Ed O’Neill started out acting in the late 70s and early 80s with a string of appearances on Broadway. Eventually, Mr. O’Neill would make his way into television and onto the silver screen. Yet for all of his success, one role would help propel Ed further than any other!

Late to Stardom

While Mr. O’Neill had been acting for decades, his career didn’t hit the next level until Married… With Children. Ed would star in the series for 11 seasons as the gruff but lovable Al Bundy. The program would go on to land 7x Golden Globe Award nominations while launching multiple careers. Ed was nearly 40 when his career truly kicked into gear!

Can you believe that this isn’t even Ed O’Neill’s most popular television show?

Becoming Hollywood’s Favorite TV Star

Even though O’Neill got a late jumpstart to his Hollywood career, the Married… With Children star would put the pedal to the metal. Since appearing in Married… With Children, O’Neill has starred in such hit projects as Finding Dory, Wreck-It Ralph, and, of course, Modern Family.

To this day, Ed O’Neill has appeared in 68 total projects.

Married… With Children

While this enigmatic Hollywood star had approached Ed due to his work on Modern Family, Mr. O’Neill wouldn’t be who he is today without his work on Married with Children. The latter series would premier in 1987 and it would run until the series was canceled in 1997. The show would feature such notable names as Christina Applegate, Katey Sagal, and David Faustino.

Returning to Sitcom Stardom

Married with Children would launch Ed’s career but Modern Family would go on to define it. Ed O’Neill would head back to the family sitcom world in 2009 when he was cast as Jay Pritchett, the rich and aloof patriarch overseeing the Pritchett-Dunphy family. The role would spark widespread fame for O’Neill while giving his career a second jolt of energy.

Success of Modern Family

Modern Family was a hit almost from the word ‘go’. The series would rack up 11 seasons before airing its highly anticipated finale in 2020. Modern Family would become a staple at Award Shows throughout Hollywood, racking up 6x Golden Globe Nominations (1x Win) and 80x Primetime Emmy Award Nominations (22x Wins).

To say that Modern Family was a modern sitcom success would be an understatement!

Ed Is Acclimated to Fame

As you can see by this point, it was easy to understand why Ed O’Neill wouldn’t recognize every fan that approached him. The man had been front and center on television since 1987 and his career hasn’t even begun to slow down! Despite his acclimation with fame and his understanding of the paparazzi world, the Modern Family star has been known to loathe taking fan pictures.

But Not a Fan of Photographs

When a celebrity doesn’t like taking photos, fans assume that they are conceited. While it is hard to argue with that logic, Ed O’Neill has always been a private person. Ed has never used social media to maintain a following and he doesn’t like getting photographed or videotaped while out in public.

As it turns out, some celebrities just like their privacy.

Proof That Ed Doesn’t Like Fan Photos

Despite Ed’s reasonable expectation of privacy, fans still pushed the star for more than he was comfortable with. In 2012, a video on YouTube titled ‘Ed O’Neill Does Not Like Taking Photos With Fans’ would go viral. The video would show Ed brushing past people with phones, quickly trying to bypass their photos.

What sets this mysterious fan apart from the rest?

Why Did Ed Take the Photo

We are still a little bit away from the big reveal, but we will say that this superfan was no stranger to the limelight, herself! In fact, one could argue that this fan wasn’t usually seen in photographs unless she was the one that had been approached. Yet for all of her fame, Ed didn’t recognize the fan. Instead, Ed recognized something else.

Politeness is Key to Success

When the fan approached Ed, she had done so with such grace and politeness that he felt obliged to acknowledge her request. Ed saw that the fan was nervous but that she still had offered trademark Southern politeness. The fan had even walked up to Ed by greeting him with, “Mr. O’Neill…”  The politeness was a stark departure from the rancor that paparazzi had often approached Ed with.

When someone is kind to you, it doesn’t hurt to act kindly back!

Their Enigmatic First Meeting

We still haven’t revealed the entire picture, but this sampler tells the entire story. Ed looks bemused and slightly tired while the full picture reveals the beaming and beautiful smile of his younger fan. Ed doesn’t exactly scream ‘I’m happy to be here!’ but he still took the photo with his fan. 

If Ed had known who he was taking a picture with. Well, maybe what happened next wouldn’t have been a surprise.

Ed Goes Viral

While the picture only took a minute to snap, the internet would make the photo go viral in even less time. The fan had uploaded the image to social media while Ed had gone to board his flight. Away from the internet and high in the sky, Ed had no idea what was happening with the photograph that he had just taken.

Going viral is a ‘thing’ and celebs are definitely paying attention to it!

Benefits of Trending on Social Media

There are a billion reasons for a picture to go viral on the internet. For Ed’s story, the photograph went viral due to how unexpected and comedic the encounter had played out. Not only had Ed been approached by a fan (something he doesn’t like) but his fan was potentially more famous than he was! To make things even funnier, Ed had no idea who the fan was either!

A Surprise After His Flight

Once the fan encounter had been put on Instagram and Twitter the next step was for the media to pick it up. This meant that Ed’s manager/agent definitely was clued in on the event before Ed even was! When Ed landed on the other side of his flight, he had no idea why his phone had blown up with texts and calls and emails.

Fancy Running Into This Guy!

Ed O’Neill has always been a private and introverted individual. Ed doesn’t maintain any real social media presence and his interviews come by way of traditional media outlets. Suffice to say, Mr. O’Neill wasn’t trawling through the discovery page on his Instagram account when his fan photo had gone viral.

Ed still didn’t know what the big deal was!

Good News For Ed

The Modern Family star didn’t realize it but his act of photographic charity would end with his name in the headlines. It’s a good thing, too, that Ed was feeling picture-ready! If Ed had ended up declining the photograph, who knows how this situation could have played out. Would we be looking at Ed O’Neill in an entirely different way?

Have You Guessed The Mysterious Fan

By this point in time, you have to at least have a guess as to who Ed had been spotted with. Do you think you know who the star is? If you do, you are way ahead of where Mr. Ed O’Neill was when the famous photograph happened. If you still aren’t sure, don’t worry, we are ready to unveil the surprise!

Unveiling the Mystery on Ellen

In June of 2016, Ed O’Neill appeared as a guest on the hit program, The Ellen Show. O’Neill had joined Ellen to promote a film they both had starred in titled Finding Dory. The celebrity friends discussed their film for a while before turning their attention to a certain airport photograph.

Ellen and Ed Are Fast Friends

Ed and Ellen may look like two odd-ducks when seated next to one another, but they have been fast friends for years. Ellen had gotten to know Ed during their time working on the hit Pixar flick, Finding Dory. Ellen had even brought pictures of the stars to her show when Ed appeared for their interview. 

What was more interesting, however, was Ellen’s closeness with Ed’s mysterious celebrity fan!

The Oblivious A-Lister

Ed is proof that you can be as rich and famous as you want, but that doesn’t mean you keep up to date with celebrity media. Instead of being embarrassed about this photograph, Ed decided to own up to his oblivious nature by sharing the entire story himself.

How do you think Ed will describe this fan interaction/

Ed Shares the Fan Story

Ed started opening up about the fan encounter by saying, “I was flying alone to Hawaii. I was waiting for my flight to board.” Ed would talk for a while longer before saying, “I saw a woman approaching me so I just flopped it on (Modern Family hat), I was leaving.” Ed revealed that the woman approached him politely.

Preparing to Board

The enigmatic figure exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. O’Neill, I love Modern Family and you are my favorite on the show.” Perhaps flattery was the key to Ed’s heart because the Modern Family star would quickly decide to give the fan a photograph. The woman even offered to hurry as she stated that she knew how much of a hurry the star was likely in.

At the end of the photo, the two smiled and bid farewell.

Accidental Instagram Superstar

When Ed landed on the other side of his flight in sunny Hawaii, his phone had completely blown up. A message from his manager simply stated, “What is this? It’s 53,000 likes!” Apparently the fan photograph Ed had taken just hours earlier had gone viral. Ed didn’t really know what that meant or why it was important but his manager was ecstatic!

Ed’s Daughter Scolds Him


Ed admitted to his manager that he didn’t know who the fan had been. Even Ed’s daughter sent a few jokes his way for not recognizing the fan that had approached him. With so many people around the entertainment world celebrating the photograph, Ed was more than a little confused.

A Little Embarrassed

As soon as Ed realized just how famous his fan was, the full weight of the encounter began to sink in. Not only was the fan more famous than Ed but he also realized that he had treated her like some random stranger! Looking back at the photograph, Ed was worried that he had insulted the famous star.

Who Is This Superstar?

Alright, we are getting to the climax of this story. Are you ready to put in your final guesses before we reveal this enigmatic celebrity superstar? We’ll give you a pair of final hints to help you make your guesses. She rose to fame in the late 90s as a musician. She also went viral in the 00s for shaving her head.

Who is this celebrity superstar?

It’s Britney Spears!

It’s Britney Spears, of course! Britney has been famous since she was a young child, growing up as one of the most sought after pop stars in the industry through the early 00s. Britney’s fame has receded a bit, but the star is still one of the biggest names in music. Despite the difference in their careers, Britney and Ed shared many values — including an affinity for privacy and low-profile travel.

Britney’s Understanding Approach

As Britney has always loathed traveling with the media, the musician likes to fly without a large entourage. As a result, Spears looked like any other airport guest when she approached Ed. In addition to her rather anonymous entourage, Britney had also been immensely polite and understanding during her conversation with the Modern Family star.

The Full Photographic Reveal

Still, it is impossible to argue that Ed doesn’t look a little irritated in this picture. Britney is glowing with joy while Ed looks, well, rather flummoxed. Can you imagine if the Modern Family star had snubbed Britney? What would the headlines have been? Would Britney have been upset? 

Britney’s Fans Didn’t Recognize Ed

Even though Ed O’Neill didn’t recognize the Oops I Did It Again star, he was about to get a taste of his own medicine. The image quickly went viral with television fans laughing away at the image. However, Britney’s young fanbase had no idea who Ed was. All of the sudden, the photo was finding new life in a new light!

A Popstar Cameo to Come?

It didn’t take long for fans of Modern Family and Britney alike to start campaigning for a cameo on the program. At the time of the encounter, Modern Family was at the height of hits fame. Heralded as one of the best modern sitcoms of all time, Modern Family was a regular at award shows and likely could get away with more celebrity cameos.

Britney Has Acting Experience

While Britney Spears had never touted herself as an actress, the pop star had done her fair share of acting work over the years. Britney’s most high-profile claim to fame as an actress was an appearance on the sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. We can’t judge her acting on that show but we can see why fans would want to see her on Modern Family!

Britney Hasn’t Commented Yet

Ed has shared his story about Britney several times while doing interviews on talk shows yet Britney hasn’t made an official comment. For some reason, we doubt Britney and Ed have any sort of animosity toward one another. Can you see just how much Britney is smiling in their picture?

In any event, Britney Spears has her own super stardom to pay attention to!

A Look Back at Britney

Britney’s career began during her childhood when she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. Britney would perform next to Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and even Keri Russell. Spears would parlay this early success into a deal with Jive Records.

Hit Me…Baby One More Time

In 1999, Britney Spears would drop the pop-music masterpiece, …Baby One More Time. The record would cement Britney Spears as one of the biggest pop stars of her era as the album went 2x Platinum, sold 10 million copies, landed #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and became the most popular album ever made by a teen artist.

We’d say that Britney did pretty well for herself!

Britney’s Struggle With the Press

Even though Britney has enjoyed historic success as a musician, life hasn’t always been easy for the former child star. Britney was well on her way to becoming a musical legend when she ran into a series of high-profile problems with the press and her personal life. Thankfully, we can say with confidence that Britney appears back on track with her health and career.

The End of Modern Family

In the years since Ed and Britney ran into one another at an airport, Modern Family has come to an end. The series would wrap in 2020 after 250 episodes. Ed O’Neill would appear in every single episode of the series. Unfortunately, Britney Spears won’t get to make her Modern Family cameo! 



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Ed O’Neill has been a prominent figure on television for longer than we have been alive. Ostensibly known for his work on Married with Children, Ed O’Neill would go on to celebrate extensive success on television and in film thanks projects like Finding Dory and Modern Family. When Mr. O’Neill was patiently waiting in an airport for his flight, a seemingly random fan approached to share her appreciation for his art. What happened next? Not even Ed could have guessed!

Keep on reading to find out what happened after our favorite Modern Family star unknowingly took a picture with a celebrity mega-fan!

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