Legendary actor Hugh O’Brian, who became famous with the television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp and who co-starred in the classic science fiction film Rocketship X-M, has left us at the age of 91.
Born Hugh Charles Krame in New York on April 25, 1925, O’Brian entered the United States Marine Corps and became the youngest drill instructor in its history at the age of 17.
After his stint in the military, O’Brian settled in Santa Barbara where he joined a theatre company, honing his skills. His handsome, rugged looks and acting ability caught the attention of actress/director Ida Lupino.
After a few independent films, he was given a screen test at Universal and co-starred in the World War II film The Red Ball Express with Jeff Chandler. Comparable to Gene Barry and James Gardner, the stars of the TV westerns Bat Masterson and Maverick, O’Brian was an obvious choice for the Wyatt Earp series. At Universal, he starred in the pilot Probe and later joined the team of Doug McClure and Anthony Franciosa in the unique secret agent series Search, which also starred Burgess Meredith,
A lifelong heath and fitness advocate, O’Brian also spent time with the famous Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa helping the malnourished and poor. Years later, he would start the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation (HOBY) which would help kids focus on education, sports and their careers. He emphasised taking care of oneself, having himself lost part of his hearing due to the full-load blanks he had used on Wyatt Earp.
Other notable films O’Brian was in included John Wayne’s last film The Shootist, In Harm’s Way, Ten Little Indians, Africa Texas Style and Bruce Lee’s last film, Game of Death. In addition, he played many much-loved roles on TV. After a long spell of being a ladies’ man, he finally settled down at the age of 81 with Virginia Barber after dating for 18 years.
A true humanitarian and talented actor, Hugh O’Brian will missed. Starburst sends our heartfelt thoughts and good wishes to his friends and family.
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