Your Daly Devotional: Of James, Tyne and Timothy Daly

It takes being a biographical blogger to know how common some surnames are in certain fields, and there are a LOT of actors named Daly, Daily or Daley: Augustin Daly, Arnold Daly, Dan Daly (and his siblings), Dan Dailey (different spelling), Peter F. Dailey, and Bill Daily. If any of these folks are related its probably way back in the timeline and in the old country (Ireland). Today we look at three different Dalys who actually are related to each other, though I wasn’t aware of it until quite recently, despite having been very much cognizant of all three stars!

The patriarch James Daly (1918-78) was most distinguished as a stage actor, although he is undoubtedly most widely recognized as Chad Everett’s co-star on the TV drama Medical Center (1969-76). The Wisconsin actor had attended four colleges and served in three branches of the armed forces before understudying Gary Merrill in the original Broadway production of Born Yesterday (1946) directly after World War Two. He also starred as the title character in Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. (1958-59), and co-starred with Barbara Baxley in the world premiere production of Tennessee Williams’ Period of Adjustment (1960-61). He was also in the first stage adaptation of Billy Budd (1951) and revivals of Man and Superman (1949), Saint Joan (1951), and The Merchant of Venice (1953). In 1964 he led an all-star ensemble in A.E. Hotchner’s The White House with Helen Hayes, Fritz Weaver, Sorrell Booke, Gene Wilder, and Eugene Roche. He also acted in about bout ten movies, among which the best known are The Courtship of Billy Mitchell (1955) and Planet of the Apes (1968, under a mask of course). He’s also known for guest starring on the 1969 Star Trek episode “Requiem for Methusaleh”. His last credit (posthumous) was on Roots: The Next Generations (1979).

James’ daughter is Tyne Daly (b. 1946). Many will claim to have been introduced to her by Cagney and Lacey (1981-88) opposite Sharon Gless, but I had watched her on tv for at least a decade prior to that. She guest starred in a zillion shows, things like The Rookies (featuring her husband, African American actor Georg Sanford Brown), Medical Center, The Mod Squad, The Streets of San Francisco, and Lucas Tanner. She’s a multiple Emmy and Tony winner so some perhaps will be appalled if I say that these appearances were all the more memorable on account of her being such a distinctively strange presence, with her big rabbity-smile and jumpy, nervous personality. In 1976 she was cast opposite Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry in The Enforcer, in a somewhat misogynistic role as an inept lady cop. Her distinctly positive female role model on Cagney and Lacey seems almost a kind of penance for that earlier part. In 1989, her career got another shot in the arm when she was cast as Mama Rose in a high profile and critically acclaimed revival of Gypsy, inaugurating a successful Broadway career. From 1999 to 2005 she had a principal role on Judging Amy, her second best known TV credit. Recent movies include Spider Man: Homecoming (2017) and the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018).

A full decade younger than his sister, Tim Daly (b.1956), started out as a child actor. I was privileged to see him onstage very early in his career, in Trinity Rep’s 1981 production of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. I saw him the following year in Diner (1982), one of my favorite movies, without realizing he was the same guy! (I was a teenager at the time). Ultimately Daly’s become best known for his regular roles on numerous TV series: the sit-com Wings (1990-1997), Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000, the voice of the title character), the 2000-2001 reboot of The Fugitive, Private Practice (2007-2012) and Madame Secretary (2014-2019). His scores of other credits also include a four episode storyline on The Sopranos. His son Sam is also an actor, and was born in Providence while Daly was a company member at Trinity Rep.