“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of a Friend…

Posted on September 5, 2016 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

   One of my dear friends in show business has died. Hugh O’Brian shot to fame as Sheriff Wyatt Earp in what was hailed as television’s first adult Western. More than your usual television star, O’Brian starred in motion pictures, most notably, Broken Lance, Ten Little Indians, and In Harm’s Way. He was the last star whose character was killed by John Wayne, which occurred at the conclusion of The Shootist. The actor also made his mark in philanthropy as founder of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) organization. He formed the organization after meeting the legendary Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

 Hugh_O'Brian_Wyatt_Earp_1959   O’Brian was educated in Winnetka, Illinois, leaving school at 17 to join the Marines. He went on to become one of the corps’ youngest drill sergeants. While in the service, he fatefully met John Wayne. He originally planned to study law at Yale University. But, after actress Ida Lupino saw him in a play at a small Los Angeles theater, she cast him in Never Fear, a 1949 film she was directing, and his acting career was launched. One of his pals was Buddy Hackett.   HUGH O’BRIAN –>

   Until The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp debuted in September 1955, most television Westerns, notably The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy,  were targeted at adolescent boys. Wyatt Earp, on the other hand, was based on a real-life Western hero, and some of its stories were authentic. The real Earp, who lived from 1848 to 1929, is most famous for his participation in the 1881 Shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Earp paved the way for the success of Gunsmoke, and a litany of fine television Westerns that followed.

   Shortly after returning home from his famed meeting with Schweitzer, he founded the HOBY youth group. Each year, it brought together promising high school sophomores at sites around the country for leadership seminars. In 1999, O’Brian estimated that HOBY had more than 200,000 graduates from ages 16 to 59. The organization currently enrolls students in accelerated leadership programs in all 50 states and 20 countries. Hugh received numerous awards for his fine achievement.

   O’Brian was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1992. At age 81, he married the love of his life, Virginia, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in what they quipped was a wedding to die for.

   On a personal note, I interviewed Hugh a few years back on my Forgotten Hollywood Radio Program; and he was a proud owner of my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series. His autobiography and my paperbacks were self-published through the Book Publisher’s Network. I met the famed-actor and his wife at a reunion at Republic Pictures, and we became instant friends. I spent treasured time at their home, including one Christmas. I most recently saw my friends at a ceremony in which he donated his famed Wyatt Earp outfit to the Hollywood Museum at the site of the old Max Factor building.

   My heart goes out to Virginia and his family. I will miss him.

   Hugh O’Brian was 91.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Monday, September 5th, 2016 at 3:17 pm and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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