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Edmond O'Brien Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (1)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Inglewood, California, USA  (Alzheimer's disease)
Birth NameEamon Joseph O'Brien
Nickname Eddy
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Oscar-winner Edmond O'Brien was one of the most respected character actors in American cinema, from his heyday of the mid-1940s through the late 1960s. Born on September 10, 1915, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, O'Brien learned the craft of performance as a magician, reportedly tutored by neighbor Harry Houdini. He took part in student theatrics in high school and majored in drama at Fordham University, dropping out after six months. He made his Broadway debut at the age of 21 in 1936 and, later that year, played "The Gravedigger" in the great Shakespearean actor John Gielgud's legendary production of "Hamlet". Four years later, he would play 'Mercutio' to the 'Romeo' of another legendary Shakespearean, Laurence Olivier, in Olivier's 1940 Brodway production of "Romeo & Juliet".

O'Brien worked with another magician, Orson Welles, in the Mercury Theater's production of "Julius Caesar", appearing as 'Mark Antony'. He would later play 'Casca' in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's film of the play, Julius Caesar (1953).

Although it has been stated that he made his debut as an uncredited extra in the 1938 film, Prison Break (1938), the truth is that his stage work impressed RKO boss Pandro S. Berman, who brought him to Hollywood to appear in the plum supporting part of 'Gringoire' in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), which starred Charles Laughton in the title role. After returning from his wartime service with the Army Air Force, O'Brien built up a distinguished career as a supporting actor in A-list films, and as an occasional character lead, such as in D.O.A. (1949).

O'Brien won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and also received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his role as a drunken senator who ferrets out an attempted coup d'etat in Seven Days in May (1964). He also appeared as crusty old-timer 'Freddy Sykes', who antagonizes Ben Johnson's character 'Tector Gorch' in director Sam Peckinpah's classic Western, The Wild Bunch (1969). Increasingly, O'Brien appeared on television in the 1960s and '70s, but managed a turn in his old boss Welles' unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind (2018).

He married and divorced actresses Nancy Kelly and Olga San Juan, the latter being the mother of his three children, including actors Maria O'Brien and Brendan O'Brien. He died in May of 1985 in Inglewood, California, of Alzheimer's Disease and was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Olga San Juan (26 September 1948 - 1976) ( divorced) ( 3 children)
Nancy Kelly (19 February 1941 - 2 February 1942) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Deep, rich voice
Inquisitive demeanor, was often cast as writers and/or reporters

Trivia (18)

Father, with Olga San Juan, of actress Maria O'Brien, TV producer Bridget O'Brien Adelman and Brendan O'Brien.
His production company, Tiger Productions, came from his childhood nickname, 'Tiger'.
At the age of 10 he learned conjuring tricks from his neighbor, Harry Houdini.
Interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, CA. Specific Interment Location: F, T54, 50.
Younger brother of Liam O'Brien.
Recited works of William Shakespeare with Keith Moon at Sam Peckinpah's surprise birthday party.
A German Shepherd aficionado.
Father-in-law of Ingrid K. Behrens (wife of son Brendan O'Brien).
Was cast in Black Christmas (1974) as Lt. Kenneth Fuller, but the part was recast with John Saxon because of O'Brien's poor health. He was rumored to be suffering from Alzheimers.
O'Brien was originally cast as the photo-journalist Jackson Bentley (based on Lowell Thomas) in Lawrence of Arabia (1962). After O'Brien filmed several scenes, he suffered a heart attack and had to drop out of the picture. He was replaced by Arthur Kennedy.
In an interview, director Don Siegel recalled that during the production of China Venture (1953), he noticed that O'Brien was spending more and more time in his trailer before a scene, and was beginning to arrive late for shooting, which he had never done before. Suspecting that O'Brien might be secretly drinking before he went on camera--an experience Siegel had undergone with several well-known actors he had worked with--the director peeked through the windows of O'Brien's trailer one day and was surprised to see a young man reading O'Brien's lines to him. It turned out that O'Brien's eyesight and memory were beginning to fail him, he didn't want the studio to find out and fire him, so he had his assistant read him his lines and stage directions immediately before he was to shoot a scene so he wouldn't forget them on-camera.
Ex-father-in-law of Michael Anderson Jr..
Appeared older than his actual age, often being cast as "old coots" when he was only in his 40s.
Often played characters with drinking problems and may have been an alcoholic in real life.
Served with the US Army Air Force in World War II.
He appeared in two films that depicted the Normandy landings on 6/6/44: D-Day the Sixth of June (1956) and The Longest Day (1962). D-Day veteran Richard Todd also appeared in both films.
Appeared in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Julius Caesar (1953) and The Longest Day (1962). Only the first of these won.
He appeared in six films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: The Killers (1946), White Heat (1949), D.O.A. (1949), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and The Wild Bunch (1969).

Personal Quotes (1)

Versatility is a dangerous thing. It's very satisfying to portray many types of roles, but often your own identity gets lost. Seldom does a producer say, "This is an Eddie O'Brien part." On the other hand, while the rewards may be great in fame and financially for stars, the work becomes monotonous. No actor who plays himself is a happy person.

Salary (1)

A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob (1941) $11,500

See also

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