John Dennis Patrick O'Brian (August 16, 1914 – November 5, 2000) was an entertainment journalist best known for his longtime role as New York Journal American television critic.
O'Brian was born in Buffalo, New York. He dropped out of elementary school to take a series of menial jobs and eventually landed a position as a cub reporter for the Buffalo Courier-Express. He joined The Associated Press as drama and movie critic in 1943. In 1949 he moved to the "Journal-American" and started its popular television column. He was known for his lively style and often negative opinions.
A supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy, O'Brian wrote a series of published attacks on CBS News and WCBS-TV reporter Don Hollenbeck, which may have been a major factor in Hollenbeck's eventual suicide, referenced in the 2005 motion picture Good Night, and Good Luck.
O'Brian was pivotal in the exposure of the quiz show scandal centering around the quiz show Twenty-One. In 1958, he published the contention by former contestant Herbert Stempel that the NBC game was rigged. Later came an investigation by New York County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Stone that led to Grand Jury testimony and ultimately Congressional hearings in 1959. The House probe, led by Congressional investigator Richard N. Goodwin, resulted in the dramatic admission by the man who had defeated Herb Stempel on Twenty-One, Charles Van Doren, that the program was fixed.
After the death of Dorothy Kilgallen, his colleague at the Journal American, in November 1965, O'Brian took over her old Voice of Broadway column. He continued with the column past the end of the Journal-American and through the short life of the New York World Journal Tribune, which folded in 1967.
In the 1970s and 1980s, O'Brian conducted a daily afternoon interview show on WOR Radio in New York, "The Critic's Circle," focused on entertainment.
He died in 2000 in New York.
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