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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER MALACHY McCOURT
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Actor and social critic


"I never take anything seriously — least of all myself," says Malachy McCourt, one of the wittiest, most outrageous Irish personalities in New York. "I find my life is cyclical, and so I move every five or six years from one interest to another. Now that I'm doing acting sort of full-time, I thoroughly enjoy the uncertainty of it. But I do appear almost also every Wednesday at the unemployment office at 90th Street. I do a matinee from 2:15 to 2:45."

He concludes the remarks with his customary gust of laughter. As opinionated as he is entertaining, Malachy McCourt is one of those larger than-life characters who has mastered the art of conversation to such a degree that no matter what people think of him, they cannot help being magnetically attracted by his words.

In 1968 he had his own talk show in WOR-TV that was canceled because of the controversy it raised. From 1970 to 1976 he had a weekend show on WMCA radio, and lost that as well — for publicly condemning the station's treatment of an employee whose job was abolished. "They called him in on a Friday at five minutes to five, and told him to clear his desk. He had been there for 28 years."

The airwaves' loss has been the theatre's gain, because in the past three years, Malachy has developed an ever-increasing reputation as a character actor. Well-known for his roles in Irish plays — especially those by John Millington Synge — he has also been seen recently in movies and television. His films include Two for the Seesaw and The Brink's Job, while on television, he appeared in last season's The Dain Curse with James Coburn and in Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again.

His current vehicle is The Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O'Casey, the great Irish playwright. In the role of Seamus Shields, whom Malachy describes as "a snivelling, sycophantic swine of a braggart," he is co starring with Stephen Lang at the Off-Off Broadway Symphony Space for the Performing Arts, 95th Street and Broadway.

The action takes place in Dublin in 1920. "It was during the time of what they euphemistically call 'the Troubles,'" explains Malachy in his broad, breezy irish accent. We're sitting in his Westside living room. The walls are so loaded down with books that they seem ready to collapse. "The English brought in a bunch of gangsters from their prisons, called the Black and Tans. They were paid an extraordinary amount of money to go over and pacify the country. They could do anything they pleased. You could be tortured, raped and robbed."

Born in Limerick in 1931, Malachy quit school ............
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