DEARBORN — Last month, a McDonald's commercial Mayor Jack O'Reilly, Jr. did in the mid-1970s was uploaded onto YouTube, reminding him of his past as an actor before he began his political career.
"No way!" O'Reilly, 68, told the Dearborn Press and Guide. "How in the world did that get on YouTube? That's a long time ago."
At the time, O'Reilly was in his 20s, selling McDonald's famous double cheeseburger with twins Yvonne and Yvette Sylvander in the commercial. The twins appeared as cover girls on the Jan. 19, 1976 swimsuit issue edition of "Sports Illustrated."
"I don't know how in the world it got on there," O'Reilly said. "I guess with the way things are now, everything's gonna pop up sooner or later. That's where you have to be careful that you didn't do anything that you're embarrassed about. That's a blast from the past. I haven't thought about it for years. It'd be interesting to look at it. My wife would get a kick out of it."
O'Reilly first got interested in theater while studying at St. Alphonsus High School in Dearborn. He went on to study acting at Henry Ford Community College (now Henry Ford College), Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. He was taught by Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor Jeffrey Tambor at Wayne State.
"I had a good relationship with [Tambor]," O'Reilly said. "He's just a hoot. He probably doesn't even remember me. I got to work with him in the basement of [Wayne State's] Hilberry Theatre."
O'Reilly received an associate's degree in theater/performing arts from the London-based Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts through Oakland University in Rochester Hills. He then earned his undergraduate degree in theater/performing arts and later his Juris doctor degree in law from the University of Detroit.
Other than the McDonald's commercial, he also acted in a Chevrolet commercial and several training films created by different auto companies. O'Reilly does not regret leaving acting behind and switching to politics.
"I always knew I wanted to do something to try and make things better," he said. "I grew up in the 1960s. This was a tumultuous time. There was a lot of conflict going on. There was a sense of division. I always felt that I wanted to be part of making everybody start thinking in the same way of how we look at who we are and what our goals are."
He worked as president of the Dearborn City Council for 17 years. He was elected mayor of Dearborn in 2007 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013.