Break out the schmear and surfboards: Peter Gallagher is 60 years old. The New York native, born Aug. 19, 1955, brought one of television’s most beloved dads to life in the mid-2000s when he played Sandy Cohen on The O.C., and in recognition of his big birthday, EW got the scoop on what he’s really like as a father (when he’s not raising Seth and Ryan) from his daughter, 22-year-old Kathryn Gallagher.
Kathryn, who is preparing for her own star-making turn in the Broadway revival of Spring Awakening next month, is now living with her parents in New York – “a big happy family under one roof.” She grew up with The O.C., watching her dad play dad to Benjamin McKenzie’s Ryan Atwood and Adam Brody’s Seth Cohen.
“I remember when they were shooting the pilot – I think I was like 11 years old – I met Ben McKenzie for the first time and was like, ‘I’m in… This show needs to continue,'” recalled Kathryn (pictured with her father in the photo above). “In the beginning I really was [Team Ryan], I’m sorry to Adam cause I really love him but I really loved [McKenzie], I really did.”
But as the show went on, Kathryn found herself relating more and more to Seth as he navigated his teen years and had awkward moments with his father.
“When Seth was embarrassed, I was like, ‘Me too, me too,'” Kathryn added. “The infamous scene where he’s telling Seth about sex, that was the most embarrassed I’ve ever been the next day at school. It was terrible. But, it’s a kid’s job to be embarrassed by their dad.”
Ahead, find seven other ways that Peter is pretty much Sandy Cohen in real life.
The Password to His Home Is “I Brought Bagels”
While Sandy was extolling the virtues of the bagel in the Cohen household, Peter was doing the same with his wife and two children. “We’re a big bagel family, I gotta say,” Kathryn said. “We’re all about the savory [bagels]. We’re big into everything bagels, and my dad is poppy seed with lox and cream cheese… We never actually got the bagel slicer [from the set], which bummed me out. When the show closed I really wanted it, it was a little heartbreaking.”
He’s Far From a Traditional Parent
Kirsten Cohen (played by Kelly Rowan) tried to lay down the law in raising Seth and Ryan, and often poked fun at Sandy for his “hippie parenting” techniques – moves Kathryn saw in her own dad. “He’s pretty hippie!” she said. “He’s a hippie guy. We’re all about holistic medicine, lots of wellness formula, lots of meditation – he’s a big meditator. He kind of is a hippie! It makes him sound really cool but he is a hippie dad.”
He Has Some Secret Talents Outside of His Day Job
Sandy mixed it up when he wasn’t serving as a public defender by surfing and acting as the family’s resident schmear-applier. For his part, Peter impresses when he’s off-camera as an amateur golfer and composer. “My dad is underratedly the best golfer. He’s so good!” Kathryn said before adding that his other skill set lies in “making up musicals on the fly.” “He sings everything. Anything!” she explained. “Any sentence, he’ll sing it, he’ll dance it. It’s always great. That’s the thing, it’s always great and catchy.”
He’s a Takeout Enthusiast
As Sandy famously avoided his wife’s questionable cooking, Peter fed his family with well-ordered takeout boxes. “I grew up in New York City so we delivered a lot,” said Kathryn, who added that her father is an expert when it comes to making breakfast and barbecuing. “We went out, we ordered in.”
He Met His Wife in College
In an adorable, Max Greenfield-starring scene, Sandy was shown meeting Kirsten for the first time on The O.C. while he was helping Walter Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign on his college campus. In real life, Paula Harwood caught Peter’s eye when the two were studying at Tufts in the 1970s. “They met in college, freshman year,” Kathryn said of her parents, who have been married for more than 30 years. “My dad always describes that the first time he saw my mom, she was walking down the staircase and he was just like, blown away. My mom’s gorgeous and awesome and smart and a dancer and everything… he just kind of fell in love with her a little bit. They didn’t go on a date for years until she saw him in Hair on Broadway.”
His Eyebrows are Legendary and Genetic
Sandy once famously warned a mocking Seth that his “out of control” eyebrows were hereditary and soon coming for his son. The facial features that Peter brought to the role are just as acclaimed in his own family, and have been passed down to his children. “It’s genetic,” said Kathryn, who boasts her own set of strong brows. “The eyebrow pride has continued on. Someone just recently made an Instagram account for my eyebrows! These eyebrows are not ever gonna die. Now it’s like super hip to have great brows so I’m very lucky. But, I gotta say, the brows are a really big thing.”
He Bestows Some Serious Wisdom On His Kids
Seth and Ryan were blessed with the gem that was Sandy Cohen and his constant quotables. The moral compass of the family, Sandy regularly spouted wisdom on everything from relationships to ethics and priorities. A fellow unabashedly uncool dad, Peter did the same with his children. “I don’t think anyone in my family has ever accused my dad of being cool,” Kathryn began. “I will say, what I think my dad has taught me more than anything is that there’s nothing cooler than being you and doing what you want to do. If that’s the definition of cool, he’s the coolest guy in the world… He’s pretty good at being himself and himself is a pretty awesome dad.”