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Dave O'Brien
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Birth: May 31, 1912
Big Spring
Howard County
Texas, USA
Death: Nov. 8, 1969
Avalon
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor, Writer, Director. Born in Texas as David Poole Fronabarger on May 31, 1912, Dave O'Brien was a multi-faceted performer who entered Hollywood as a chorus boy in the early 1930s (he can be briefly spied in 42nd Street (1933) just after Bebe Daniels's "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me" number). His sheer perseverance and desire to succeed in Hollywood precluded any misgivings about working at less prestigious studios -- he nailed meatier roles at poverty row outfits, most famously in Reefer Madness (1936) (better known as "Reefer Madness") in the ludicrous role as the guy who overdoses from smoking weed. He then slid over to ailing Grand National to fill the jack boots of RCMP Renfrew while pulling double duty backing up Dorothy Page in the studio's oddball "singing cowgirl" oaters which proved to be the studio's last gasp at life. O'Brien then moved up the Gower Gulch ladder -- relatively speaking -- by supporting the East Side Kids at Monogram. During this period he landed a juicy role in one of the few nominally interesting PRC releases, The Devil Bat (1940), starring Bela Lugosi. PRC itself was at the very bottom rung of Hollywood, yet O'Brien happily worked throughout the war years (he was classified 4F for the draft) there in both its ultra low-budget "Billy the Kid" westerns, starring an increasingly disgruntled Buster Crabbe and in all 22 of its marginally better Texas Ranger entries, some starring Tex Ritter. He took time out to appear in Columbia's Captain Midnight (1942) serial and became wildly popular with kids. O'Brien became known to better heeled audiences in the post-war period as the perpetual bungler in Pete Smith Specialty shorts at MGM, which continued to be released through 1955. In these, he usually played a typical suburban homeowner who had endless losing run-ins with leaky faucets, exposed wires, untrainable dogs, dangerous industrial machinery, balky lawnmowers, etc. O'Brien usually appeared in pantomime over the sarcastically hypo-nasal narration of Mr. Smith. These shorts are now reappearing fairly often as "From the Vault" filler between movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM). His work at MGM in the 50s included a cameo in the lavish Kiss Me Kate (1953). Multi-talented, he became recognized as a comedy writer (as David Barclay) in the 1950s, ending his varied career as a senior writer on the popular long running "The Red Skelton Hour" (1951). His long time friend, producer Sherwood Schwartz, recalled that O'Brien was extremely self-conscious about his lack of formal education and felt handicapped by his poor spelling and use of grammar. His inventive scripts for Skelton were the product of a dictation process with O'Brien rattling off ideas, lines and gags in writers' bullpen sessions similar to those seen in the later Dick Van Dyke Show. Whether nearly illiterate or not, O'Brien became a highly successful comedy writer and widely respected among his peers. A longtime sailing enthusiast (an avocation that had been a major factor his ending his first marriage), he collapsed form a heart attack while piloting his 60-foot racing sloop, "White Cloud" to victory in the Marina del Rey to Catalina Island race in 1969 (his last words were reportedly, "This is the happiest day of my life!"). He was survived by his wife Nancy, two sons, Jib, Skippy and three daughters, Patty, Pam and Wendy. He was just 57 years old. - bio by Jack Backstreet/IMDB 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Dorothy Short Barclay (1914 - 1963)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Specifically: Cremated at Chapel of the Pines, Los Angeles CA
 
Created by: Lisa Burks
Record added: Aug 01, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 114727411
Dave O'Brien
Added by: Lisa Burks
 
 
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aka Pete Smith on TCM channel.... which is played very often. I remember the Pete Smiths shown in movie houses along with the double features.. You certainly make me laugh then and continue to do so regularly when TCM shows the short. Thank you for you...(Read more)
- christine fisher
 Added: Apr. 4, 2014
ACTOR,DAVE O'BRIEN WAS A COUSIN TO MY SCHOOL FRIEND CHARLENE CORLEY. CHARLENE AND I GRADUATED ABILENE HIGH SCHOOL IN ABILENE, TEXAS AS CLASSMATES IN 1950. IN THE SPRING OF 1949 CHARLENE HOSTED A PARTY AT HER AUNT'S HOME IN ABILENE TO MEET HER COUSIN, DAV...(Read more)
- ron
 Added: Feb. 3, 2014

-Anonymous
 Added: Sep. 16, 2013
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