Dave O'Brien (actor)

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Dave O'Brien
ReeferMadness 09.JPG
O'Brien in Reefer Madness
Born David Poole Fronabarger
(1912-05-31)May 31, 1912
Big Spring, Texas, USA
Died November 8, 1969(1969-11-08) (aged 57)
Cause of death
Heart attack
Years active 1930–1970
Spouse(s) Nancy O Brien (1955-1969) (his death) 3 children
Dorothy Short (1936-1954) (divorced) 2 children

Dave O'Brien (May 31, 1912 – November 8, 1969) was an American film actor, director and writer. Born David Poole Fronabarger in Big Spring, Texas, O'Brien started his film career in bit parts before gradually winning larger roles, mostly in B pictures.


O'Brien became familiar to movie audiences in the 1940s as the hero of the famous MGM comedy short film series Pete Smith Specialties narrated by Pete Smith. O'Brien wrote and directed many of these subjects under the name David Barclay. O'Brien also had a small dancing part with Bebe Daniels in the Busby Berkeley musical 42nd Street (1933).

He also appeared in many low-budget Westerns, often billed as "Tex" O'Brien, alluding to his home state. To modern audiences, he is most likely best to be remembered as a frantic dope addict in the low-budget exploitation film Reefer Madness (1936), yelling "Play it faster, play it faster!" to a piano-playing girl. He appeared in Queen Of The Yukon (1940) as Bob Adams. In 1940, he appeared in The Devil Bat as part of a comedy team with Donald Kerr. They also appeared together in Son of the Navy (1940) and The Man Who Walked Alone (1945).

In 1942, O'Brien starred in the movie serial Captain Midnight, and had the lead role in the western Brand of the Devil in 1944.

One of his later roles was in the film musical version of Kiss Me, Kate (1953), a rare featured role for the actor in an 'A' list big-budget production.

O'Brien married one of his co-stars of Reefer Madness, Dorothy Short, in 1936, but they divorced in 1954 after having two children. In 1955, he married Nancy O'Brien and had three more children. A very keen yachtsman and sailor, he died aged 57 of a heart attack aboard a 60-foot sloop named The White Cloud while competing in a yachting race off the California coast near Catalina Island.

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