"Modern Family" Actor Had No Idea Who This Celebrity Fan Was

Modern Family is a 5-time Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy winner that stole screens and stole hearts when it premiered in 2009. Praised for its heartfelt humor and distinct writing, the show was a stand out of ABC's line up. Its incredible cast was the high point of the series, and the show was unofficially led by TV veteran, Ed O'Neill who comes from the much-loved Married... with Children. Since then, his star has soared, leading him to a viral moment he simply never saw coming.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Eric McCandless

Ed's Legacy

These two shows have built Ed's legacy, and he's created generations of fans who adore him. Many want to take a picture with him whenever they see the legend, and one day, as Ed sat in an airport lounge, he accepted a photo with a fan which sparked a story around the world.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Slaven Vlasic

The Infamous Photo With The Fan

O'Neill was more than willing to accept the photo with the fan, and her friend took the photo. The woman in question was elated, and why wouldn't she be? She was in the face of comedic royalty, and she was a long time fan. The woman said that she would upload it to her social media, and that's exactly what she did.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Mark Davis

The Public Reaction

In almost no time at all, Ed's phone quickly erupted with excited messages from friends and families who freaked out over the woman he shared a photo with. Ed had no idea why because he had no idea who she was--she was quite a big deal.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Jeff Kravitz

Ed's Origins

What you need to know first is how far back O'Neill's career stretches and why anyone would want a picture with him in the first place. Ed started out in theatre and then found himself in his first movie role as a police detective in Cruising alongside the great Al Pacino. This eventually led to his most iconic role in Married... with Children which kicked off his legacy as a household name as Al Bundy in 1987. This was part of his come-up story.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

Over to 2009 and 2016 Picture

Leap to 2009, he had a breakthrough role in the modern era as Jay Pritchett in Modern Family where younger generations got to know him. This explains the interaction with the woman he took the viral photo with--but, she has her own long-standing fan base herself, and Ed had no clue.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Jeff Kravitz

Modern Family Bring Modern Fame

When Modern Family rolled around in 2009, Ed became a prominent award-challenging television feature in the defining lead role. The show ran for an incredible 11 season and touched around 250 episodes, which is an incredible feat on its own. So, for younger fans of his, that's where they were able to get well acquainted with the man. Between Modern Family and Married… With Children, Ed O’Neill was on television screens for 20 years, give or take. His legacy to that viral photo was long in the making.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Byron Cohen

Fans Take Photo Ops

So, it makes sense that fans would ask him for photos and autographs when they had the opportunity. That’s why when the kind woman approached him at the airport, he didn’t think twice about her request as it was something very commonplace for him at that point in his career. From what he could tell, she was just any ordinary woman.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Jason LaVeris

A Private Life and No Photo Policy

Ed himself is already a private guy who's well versed in what fame brings, and his well passed the point of caring about celeb culture--this explains why he was woefully unable to identify the woman who asked to take a picture with him. It's already well-known that O'Neill does not like having pictures taken of him, so much so that there are YouTube compilations that show just how much he detests fan pictures. So why would that change?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Peter "Hopper" Stone

A Once-off Occasion

The only reason he agreed to the one with the woman was that her timing at the quiet lounge as well as her disarming kindness loosened him up to the idea. Little did he know, this once-off occasion was about to cause some serious craze.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Eddy Chen

Two VIP's

Ed was more of a kindred and reserved spirit who wasn't necessarily up to date with pop culture--that's us making quite the excuse for the screen legend. No matter how detached he had been from pop culture, this wasn't someone like Camila Cabello or someone like Bella Hadid where you could understand maybe why he wouldn't know who they are. But she was bigger than that.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Christopher Polk

The Famous Woman In Question

The famous woman in question certainly wasn't a common fan, and she certainly was more than a new kid on the block. She was a legend in her own right which justifies exactly why the world went crazy when the photo was uploaded.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ethan Miller

Ed & Ellen

Ed's adorable obliviousness to being around important figures was an isolated affair, something similar had happened to him before, and that involved Ellen DeGeneres. Of course, he knew who Ellen was, but, Ed had no idea, when he signed on to Finding Dory, that most of the dialogue would be alongside the animation's titular character played by Ellen herself, which was a significant surprise to him. This was a pattern for the old man.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

One of Ellen's Famous Friends

So, by the time he was on the press tour for the massive animation film (2016), Ed was now wiser to why the photo was a big deal, as the woman in question was a very close friend of DeGeneres herself! But several famous people are friends of Ellen, that doesn't necessarily narrow the list down.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Dave Kotinsky

The Story Behind The Photo

Ellen characteristically poked fun at the moment that made Ed O'Neill a social media sensation in an instant. O'Neill detailed the bizarre encounter by letting Ellen, her fans, and her viewers know that he was on the way to Hawaii. When it was time to board the plane, he plopped on a 'Modern Family' hat and made his way to the boarding gates. This led to the certified approach from the woman.

Image Credits: Pexels/Marina Hinic/For illustrative purposes

The Opportunity Rises

Of course, the woman knew who he was before this, but she did see it as an opportunity to stop Ed and tell him she loved him and loved the show, which ultimately led to the photo being taken. Her gracious approach probably softened Ed into taking the picture. She was, of course, America's biggest sweetheart at some point in time.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Tony Rivetti

A Picture With A Pop Star?

O'Neill boarded the plane and wasn't instantly engaged with the massive attention that the image received. By the time he had landed in Hawaii, his entire social media presence had gone up a few 50,000 notches from before he took the photo. It was madness.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Christopher Polk

Mania From His Manager

His manager was the first person to hit his hotline where Ed got to see the response that the image received within a matter of hours. Ed still had no idea why this was such a big deal, but he was about to have his life rocked simply because of a picture with a pop star.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Eric McCandless

Ed O’Neill’s Daughter

For all we know, Ed wouldn't have bothered to wonder who this person was, and for all intents and purposes, she was just another fan in an airport lounge who like him and loved the show. Ed's daughter was most prominently frustrated at her dad's ignorance over the picture, mostly because she had grown up bumping the star's music in her house, and her dad knew that.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Christopher Polk

“It’s Britney, Pritch”

The woman in question was the one and only Britanny Spears! Ed O'Neill is part of an older generation and that's as much rope as you can give him when it comes to why and how he had no idea that he had just taken a viral picture with one of the world's biggest pop stars. Ed was mortified!

Image Credits: Twitter/britneyspears

Ignorant To And Icon

Of course, to some extent, he knew who she was, he might not have known any of her lyrics, but certainly, the years of his daughter losing her mind at the television whenever MTV played one of her many iconic videos, he should've been able to tell who she was. He didn't, and he better explained the situation in his conversation with Ellen over the incident.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Kevin Winter

O’Neill’s Unenthused Face

Ed, in the image, simply doesn't look thrilled in the picture, and many people who never understood the fact that he just had no idea who this famous woman was, explains a lot now that we have brand new information on the incredible story.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Eric McCandless

The Grumpy Grill

Had he known, and had he known that she was one of his daughter's great idols growing up, he would've smiled more to match the enthusiasm that Brittany showed when the infamous photo was taken. Ironically, many people in the comment section asked Brittany who the man in the photo was, so we can see several gaps in knowledge that the picture exposed.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Tony Rivetti

Britney's Brilliance

There's no need to dive into the incredible legacy that Britney has created herself, as her rise to pop prominence and popularity is something well documented through pop culture. From being the blueprint for a young superstar, Britney has recently been recognized as one of the most industrious young stars that paved the way for all your favorites such as Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus. So, how could Ed not know her?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Denise Truscello

The Superstar In The Spotlight

It's her innate gifts in the spotlight that have made her one of the biggest stars the world has ever seen, and therefore, Ed's inability to recognize her is still shocking to many fans, and many had choice words over what they saw as an atrocity.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Archive Photos

The Mega Monolith

For all her gifts, Britney is certainly not a monolith, she's a mosaic full of talent that most people can never muster with their hardest effort. Outside of music, many people don't know that Britney has an extensive catalog of acting credits that prove she has a wide set range to her popular name.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Jason Merritt

The Range Of Britney

Obviously, her die-hard fans know what she's capable of, and the fact that she can hit her marks on set the same way she hits her notes and dance cues is no surprise to the millions who've been rooting for her since her teenage years. This range led to fans of Modern Family and the star to request something truly audacious.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Ethan Miller

When Famous People Take A Photo

Naturally, whenever two stars are seen together, fans draw up some of their own fantasy fiction and beg for them to collaborate on anything. Anytime two musicians seem to cross paths and take pictures together, immediately, the public response veers towards them working on something together to appease the masses who love them dearly. Was this a possibility for Ed and Britney?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Kevin Mazur

Britney On Modern

Ed, who was still on Modern Family at the time the picture was taken, was begged to have a discussion with Modern Family writers to have Britney guest star on the show, or at least make some sort of cameo. Britney, you may not know, had a great recurring role on another hit series, which allowed many to believe she had the chops to appear on Modern Family. Which show was this?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz

How We Met Abby

Britney may have not been the mother, but she did make a surprising appearance in the show's Emmy-nominated fourth season as Abby, the receptionist for Stella who was the dermatologist that left Ted at the altar. Britney did a more than convincing job playing a woman obsessed with the main character Ted Mosby. So, many were optimistic about her chance on Modern Family.

Image Credits: Getty Images/CBS Photo Archive

Britney's Return

Many critics marked it as one of the key features that showed Britney's return to the limelight after previous public meltdowns that blemished the blond superstar's esoteric career. Naturally, the world wanted to see her take a swing at the Pritchett and Dunphy universe--did this take shape in any way, shape, or form?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Kevin Winter

The Icon's Cameos

Britney making an appearance on Modern Family isn’t that weird of an idea. After all, she appeared on shows with similar formats to How I Met Your Mother she also showed her comedic range in Will & Grace as well as Glee, and also lent her vocal skills to the long-running animation, The Simpsons. She even has a movie role, starring in her own movie, Crossroads. She had to be a shoo-in for a guest role, right?

Image Credits: FOX/The Simpsons

Enough Credits For A Cameo

Proving that she's a jack of all trades. With all those credits to her name, a cameo on the ABC Network didn’t seem too far-fetched for Britney Spears to appear on Modern Family. But, we guess that was just hopeful thinking as the show concluded its run. But, what happened in the wake of the image?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Handout

Ed and Britney as Best Friends?

Many would froth at the mouth to have a picture taken with the great Ed O'Neill, the man is an undeniable great of the television game, and there's simply no stopping him. We're just glad that Hollywood has reciprocated the returns that he's produced with several honors in his name. But did he and Britney ever become friends after that fateful moment brought by the photo?

Image Credits: Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

In The End for Ed O’Neill

In an ideal world, Britney and Ed would've met and taken an even better photo with Ed showing a little more enthusiasm, but his oblivious straight face paired with the origin of the moment is rich enough all on its own, so we'll hold onto that until the next one.

Image Credits: Getty Images/Eric McCandless

His star power didn’t end there as he was cast as another leading role in a hugely successful sitcom as the patriarch and family leader Jay Pritchett in Modern Family. He just finished the role earlier this year and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Ed O’Neill. Will he be cast in another sitcom?

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