Peter Gallagher (and his eyebrows) Want to Save You from the Flu

Morgan Johnston/Ward Creative Communications
That hair. Those eyebrows. That devil-may-care grin. Influenza doesn't stand a chance!

The American Lung Association is on tour throughout the country, promoting an influenza program, oddly named "Faces of Influenza" (kind of reminds us of the gruesome '80s shockumentary, Faces of Death).

But one of those faces hardly looks like the flu has ever touched it: Peter Gallagher, named as one of TV's top dads for his work as Sandy Cohen on Fox's The OC, visited the Houston Galleria this week, where nurses issued free flu shots -- vaccine courtesy of sanofi pasteur -- and he showed he's more than a pretty face.

"You're gonna get all fluttery; you just wait and see," one of the nurses, Jean Atwood of Maxim Health Care, told us. She wasn't talking about the reaction we'd get from our flu shot; she was referring to Gallagher, who charmed everyone within a 200-foot radius.

Gallagher, a veteran of movies and Broadway, comes honestly to this promotional tour; it's not just something an agent cooked up. His grandmother died of the flu before he was even born, and his mother was a bacteriologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who helped develop a better milieu for penicillin.

"I'd seen the picture of my mother with Arthur Fleming in the White House," he said. Actually, Arthur Fleming was in Gallagher's line of work -- show biz -- and it was Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin, in 1928. But other than that, Gallagher's passion for promoting disease was infectious. (Get it?)

Gallagher says he's giving back the warmth he didn't get -- his own father lost his own mother to influenza while only seven years old. The boy had returned from a Fourth of July celebration to find his mother has passed. "That was the last party my dad ever enjoyed. It was all work after that," he said, adopting a gruff tone: 'C'mon, Gallagher, let's go clean the gutters!'"

Gallagher's father later stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day -- coincidentally, the same day Gallagher's mother helped perfect the use of peanut oil for penicillin's better absorption. "They named the rabbit that didn't die (in the experiment) "D-Day,'" Gallagher said, proudly. Even more coincidence surrounds the Gallagher family, D-Day and penicillin: Gallagher's mother died on June 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

Who knew the cheating husband in Sex, Lies and Videotape was such a good guy? Despite lotharios he's played -- the aloof, perennial bachelor in While You Were Sleeping is one of our role models if we ever make the money he did in that role -- maybe Gallagher really is the warm, empowering dad he plays on TV.

In a stroke of luck for The OC's demographics in Sealy, Texas, that town's high school was performing Christmas carols (in an apparent flouting of the separation between church and state) at the Galleria that morning. They rushed Gallagher, snapping shots on their cell phones and scoring autographs.

"He's fine. I like his eyes," alto Aishia Sheppard of Sealy oozed to HouStoned. Apparently, she's not daunted by Gallagher's trademark brows, fulsome enough to earn him a spot in the former Speaker of the House Jim Wright and Brooke Shields Hall of Fame. — Bobette Riner


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