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Comedian Rosie O'Donnell's father dies of cancer at 81, spokeswoman says

Comedian Rosie O'Donnell poses for a portrait during

Comedian Rosie O'Donnell poses for a portrait during The Television Critics Association 2011 Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. on July 29, 2011. Photo Credit: AP / Dan Steinberg

Edward Joseph O'Donnell, the father of Commack-raised comedian Rosie O'Donnell, died of cancer Sunday at age 81, a publicist for the Emmy Award-winning star said.

O'Donnell's publicist Cindi Berger confirmed his death to Newsday Sunday night.

Edward O'Donnell was an electrical engineer who worked most of his career for Grumman in Bethpage, according to a February 1997 Newsday profile of the comedian.

He raised O'Donnell and her four siblings after their mother, Roseann, died in March 1973 from breast cancer when the comedian was 11.

Sunday night, O'Donnell tweeted the phrase "through him -- with him -- in him . . ." on her Twitter account, alongside a photo of a collage of black and white pictures with the word "hurts."

She also posted a link on Twitter to the music video for the song, "St. Jude," by Florence and The Machine, quoting the lyrics: "And I'm learning, so I'm leaving/And even though I'm grieving, I'm trying to find the meaning/Let loss reveal it."

In a May 1998 interview with Newsday, O'Donnell spoke about seeking solace from her mother's death and her father's resulting grief by watching TV sitcoms.

"In my house, it took the place of parenting," she said. "My mother had died and my father was bereft, and there was really a lack of interaction with all the children."

The death comes days after O'Donnell reported that her 17-year-old daughter, Chelsea, was missing. The teen was later found at the Barnegat, New Jersey, home of Steven Sheerer, 25, who was arrested Saturday on charges he had inappropriate online communications with the teen.


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