Merritt Island High grad: Firefighter, actor and indie filmmaker

From Merritt Island to making movies.

Kevin O’Neill of Oviedo, a 1975 Merritt Island High graduate, used to put out fires as a firefighter on Merritt Island in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

It used to be a very tight, little compact department with four or five different stations on Merritt Island. It’s changed a lot,” O’Neill said of the ol’ “Fire Station 1” on SR 520 and Courteney Parkway.

The site is now a Baptist church; the firehouse out back serves the church’s youth group. O’Neill loved the camaraderie and the job. He recalled working under Chief Don Gilroy, who died in 2009.

“We rotated a lot. He moved us constantly,” O’Neill said of Gilroy. “He wanted us to learn the different areas. I worked at Banana River Drive for many years, worked at Station 3 by Diana Shores and the all the way out on north Courtenay, Station 4, way out in the boondocks.”

But it was a chance elective — theater — at what was then Brevard Community College that changed his course.

Working toward his fire tech degree, O’Neill thought Theater 101 would be an easy class.

It was, until he had to audition for a musical.

“The director pointed out that I was a horrible dancer,” O’Neill said, laughing. Then the director recommended he act in a play.

“Once I did a play, I was in love. I knew that I wanted to do that,” O’Neill said. “Within a year, I worked with Marisa Tomei in ‘As the World Turns.’ ” Further appearances include “D.A.R.Y.L.” the movie, “Highway to Heaven,” and “Sheena.”


  • April 20, 2018
    Jesse Cox

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    • April 20, 2018
      Amber Webb

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