George O'Brien (actor)


George O'Brien (actor)

George O'Brien (April 19, 1899 – September 4, 1985) was an American actor, popular during the silent film era and into the talkie era of the 1930s.

Born in San Francisco, California, O'Brien was the elder son of Daniel J. and Margaret L. (Donahue) O'Brien; O'Brien's father later became the Chief of Police for the City of San Francisco (Dan O'Brien ordered the arrest of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in September 1921 at the scandalous Labor Day party held by Arbuckle.) After his retirement from that office, Dan was the Director of Penology for the State of California.

In 1917 O'Brien enlisted in the United States Navy to fight in World War I, serving on a Submarine chaser. He volunteered to act as a stretcher bearer for wounded Marines and was decorated for bravery.Right after the war O'Brien became Light Heavyweight champion of the Pacific Fleet.

The young war veteran came to Hollywood, California in his early twenties hoping to become a cameraman and did work as an assistant cameraman for a while, for both Tom Mix and Buck Jones. He began his acting career in bit parts and as a stuntman. One of his earliest roles was in the 1922 George Melford-directed drama "Moran of the Lady Letty", most notable for starring Rudolph Valentino. In 1924 O'Brien received his first starring role in the drama "The Man Who Came Back" opposite the English actress Dorothy Mackaill. That same year he was chosen by the famed movie director John Ford to star in "The Iron Horse". The film was an immense success at the box-office and O'Brien made nine more films for Ford. In 1927 he starred in "Sunrise" opposite Janet Gaynor, which won three Academy Awards, was directed by F. W. Murnau, and remains widely considered by critics to be one of the finest and most powerful films ever made.

O'Brien would spend the remainder of the 1920s as an extremely popular leading man in films, often starring in action and adventure roles alongside such popular actresses of the era as Alma Rubens, Anita Stewart, Dolores Costello, Madge Bellamy, Olive Borden (with whom he was linked romantically during the 1920s) and Janet Gaynor.

O'Brien married the actress Marguerite Churchill on July 15, 1933 and the couple had a son, Darcy O'Brien in 1939 who would become a successful writer and a daughter, Orin O'Brien who would become a double bassist with the New York Philharmonic. A third child, Brian, died in infancy. The couple divorced in 1948.

With the advent of sound, George O'Brien became a popular star of Westerns and rarely took parts outside of the Western film genre. Throughout the 1930s, O'Brien was a consistent Top Ten box-office draw appearing in scores of Westerns, often atop his horse named Mike.

George's height was 5' 11" (1.80m).

During World War II, O'Brien re-enlisted in the United States Navy where he served as a beachmaster in the Pacific and was decorated several times. He left service with the rank of commander. He later joined the United States Naval Reserve and retired with the rank of captain in 1962, having four times been recommended for the rank of admiral Fact|date=February 2007.Following his service in World War II, O'Brien would occasionally take feature parts in films directed by his old friend and mentor John Ford including "Fort Apache," "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" and "Cheyenne Autumn."

While serving in the Naval Reserve, O'Brien took on a project for the Department of Defense as part of President Eisenhower's "People to People" program. He was project officer for a series of orientation films on three Asian countries. One of these films, on Korea, was directed by his old friend, John Ford. The other two countries covered were Formosa (Taiwan) and the Philippines.

George O'Brien suffered a stroke in 1981 and was bedridden the last few years of his life. He died in 1985 in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.For his contribution to the motion picture industry, George O'Brien was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6201 Hollywood Blvd., in Los Angeles, California.

External links

*imdb name|id=0639563|name=George O'Brien
*A George O'Brien [http://www.surfnetinc.com/chuck/gobrien.htm Fan Site]
* [http://film.virtual-history.com/person.php?personid=759 Photographs of George O'Brien]


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