Edmond O'Brien

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Edmond O'Brien
in D.O.A. (1950)
Born (1915-09-10)September 10, 1915
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died May 9, 1985(1985-05-09) (aged 69)
Inglewood, California, U.S.
Cause of death Alzheimer's disease
Resting place Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California
Nationality American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–74
Spouse(s) Nancy Kelly (1941-42) (divorced)
Olga San Juan (1948-76) (divorced) three children
Children Bridget O'Brien
Maria O'Brien
Brendan O'Brien

Edmond O'Brien (September 10, 1915 – May 9, 1985) was an American actor who appeared in more than 100 films from the 1940s to the 1970s, often playing character parts. He received an Academy Award for his supporting role in The Barefoot Contessa (1954). His other notable films include The Killers (1946), White Heat (1949), D.O.A. (1950), Julius Caesar (1953), 1984 (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1961), Seven Days in May (1964) – for which he received an Oscar nomination – and The Wild Bunch (1969).

Early years[edit]

O'Brien was born was in Brooklyn, New York,[1] of English and Irish stock. After attending Columbia University[2] for one year, he went to Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre on a scholarship.[1] O'Brien made his first Broadway appearance at age 21 in Daughters of Atreus.[3] O'Brien made his film debut in 1938, and gradually built a career as a highly regarded supporting actor. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces and appeared in the Air Forces' Broadway play and film Winged Victory.


O'Brien won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a harried publicity agent in The Barefoot Contessa (1954) and was also nominated for his role as an alcoholic U.S. senator in Seven Days in May (1964).[4] Prior to that, O'Brien had an acclaimed role in 1950's film noir drama D.O.A. as a poisoned man who sets out to find his own murderer before he dies.

His other notable films include The Killers (1946), An Act of Murder (1948), White Heat (1949), Backfire (1950),The Girl Can't Help It (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Longest Day (1962), Fantastic Voyage (1966), and The Wild Bunch (1969).


From 1950 to 1952, O'Brien starred in the radio drama Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. His other work in radio included Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway.[5]


He appeared extensively in television, including the 1957 live 90-minute broadcast on Playhouse 90 of The Comedian, a drama written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer in which Mickey Rooney portrayed a television comedian while O'Brien played a writer driven to the brink of insanity.

From 1959-60 O'Brien portrayed the title role in the syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, the story of a New York City actor-turned-private detective. O'Brien had roles on many television series, including an appearance on Target: The Corruptors!, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point and Mission: Impossible.

In the mid-'60s O'Brien co-starred with Roger Mobley and Harvey Korman in the "Gallegher" episodes of NBC's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. From 1963-65 he co-starred in the NBC legal drama Sam Benedict.


In 1957 O'Brien recorded a spoken-word album of The Red Badge of Courage (Caedmon TC 1040). Billboard said, "Edmond O'Brien brings intensity in the narrative portions and successfully impersonates the varied characters in dialog."[6]

Personal life[edit]

O'Brien was divorced from actresses Nancy Kelly 1941-1942[7] and Olga San Juan. San Juan was the mother of his three children, including television producer Bridget O'Brien and actors Maria O'Brien and Brendan O'Brien.


O'Brien died May 9, 1985, at St. Erne's Sanitorium[1] in Inglewood, California, of Alzheimer's disease.[8] He was survived by his wife and three children.[1]

Walk of Fame[edit]

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Edmond O'Brien has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1725 Vine Street, and a second star at 6523 Hollywood Blvd. for his contribution to the television industry. Both were dedicated February 8, 1960.[9]


Year Project Role Notes
1939 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Gringoire
1941 A Girl, a Guy, and a Gob Stephen Herrick
Parachute Battalion William 'Bill' Mayberry Burke
1942 Obliging Young Lady 'Red' Reddy, aka Professor Stanley
Powder Town J. Quincy 'Penji' Pennant
1943 The Amazing Mrs. Holliday Tom Holliday
1944 Winged Victory Irving Miller credited as Sgt. Edmond O'Brien
1946 The Killers Jim Riordan
1947 The Web Bob Regan
A Double Life Bill Friend
1948 Another Part of the Forest Benjamin 'Ben' Hubbard
For the Love of Mary Lt. Tom Farrington
An Act of Murder David Douglas
Fighter Squadron Major Ed Hardin
1949 Task Force Radio Announcing Pearl Harbor Attack (voice, uncredited)
White Heat Hank Fallon
Vic Pardo
1950 Backfire Steve Connelly
D.O.A. Frank Bigelow
711 Ocean Drive Mal Granger
The Admiral Was a Lady Jimmy Stevens
Between Midnight and Dawn Officer Dan Purvis
1951 The Redhead and the Cowboy Maj. Dunn Jeffers
Pulitzer Prize Playhouse Ben Jordan episode: Icebound
Two of a Kind Michael 'Lefty' Farrell
Warpath John Vickers
Silver City Larkin Moffatt
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth Midway Barker at End (uncredited)
Denver and Rio Grande Jim Vesser
The Turning Point John Conroy
1953 The Hitch-Hiker Roy Collins
Man in the Dark Steve Rawley
Cow Country Ben Anthony
Julius Caesar Casca
China Venture Capt. Matt Reardon
The Bigamist Harry Graham
Harrison Graham
1954 The Shanghai Story Dr. Dan Maynard
Shield for Murder Detective Lt. Barney Nolan
The Barefoot Contessa Oscar Muldoon Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (3rd place, tied with Humphrey Bogart for The Caine Mutiny)
The Ford Television Theatre Captain Joyce episode: Charlie C Company
1955 Stage 7 Clinton Sturgess episode: Debt in Honor
The Red Skelton Show Grizzled Old Prospector episode: Episode #4.23
Damon Runyon Theater Duke Martin episode: Old Em's Kentucky Home
Pete Kelly's Blues Fran McCarg
Playwrights '56 Sidney episode: The Heart's a Forgotten Hotel
The Star and the Story Ray Ericson episode: Dark Stranger
1956 1984 Winston Smith of the Outer Party
Screen Directors Playhouse Thaddeus Kubaczik episode: A Ticket for Thaddeus
D-Day the Sixth of June Lt. Col. Alexander Timmer
A Cry in the Night Capt. Dan Taggart
The Rack Lt. Col. Frank Wasnick
The Girl Can't Help It Marty 'Fats' Murdock
1954-1956 Climax! Leo Waldek
Joel Flint
episode: Figures in Clay
episode: An Error in Chemistry
1957 The Big Land Joe Jagger
Stopover Tokyo George Underwood
1958 The World Was His Jury David Carson
Sing, Boy, Sing Joseph Sharkey
Suspicion (TV series) Sgt. Miles Odeen episode: Death Watch
Lux Playhouse Big Jim Webber episode: Coney Island Winter
1953-1958 Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars Jim Reardon
Rick Saunders
Captain Simpson
episode: The Town That Slept with the Lights On
episode: The Net Draws Tight
episode: The Long Shot
1957-1959 Playhouse 90 Roy Brenner
Joe Ferguson
Al Preston
episode: The Blue Men
episode: The Male Animal
episode: The Comedian
Zane Grey Theatre Marshal Ben Clark
Russ Andrews
episode: Lonesome Road
episode: A Gun Is for Killing
1959 Up Periscope Commander Paul Stevenson
The Restless and the Damned Mike Buchanan (L'Ambitieuse)
Laramie (TV series) Captain Sam Prado episode: The Iron Captain
1960 Johnny Midnight (TV series) Johnny Midnight (39 episodes)
The Last Voyage Second Engineer Walsh
The 3rd Voice The Voice (uncredited)
1961 The Great Impostor Capt. Glover - HMCS Cayuga
Man-Trap Voice of Photographer (uncredited)
The Dick Powell Show Sid Williams episode: Killer in the House
Target: The Corruptors! Ollie Crown episode: The Invisible Government
1962 Moon Pilot McClosky ('Mac')
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Dutton Peabody Western Heritage Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
Birdman of Alcatraz Tom Gaddis
The Longest Day Gen. Raymond D. Barton
1962-1963 Sam Benedict Sam Benedict (28 episodes)
1964 Seven Days in May Sen. Raymond Clark Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
The Greatest Show on Earth (TV series) Mike O'Kelley episode: Clancy
Breaking Point Roger Conning episode: The Tides of Darkness
The Eleventh Hour (TV series) Buck Denholt episode: The Color of Sunset
Rio Conchos Col. Theron Pardee
The Hanged Man Arnie Seeger
1965 Sylvia Oscar Stewart
Synanon Chuck Dederich
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Jefferson Crowley (6 episodes)
The Long, Hot Summer (TV series) Will 'Boss' Varner (13 episodes)
1966 Fantastic Voyage General Carter
The Doomsday Flight The Man (TV movie)
1967 The Viscount Ricco Barone
To Commit a Murder Sphax (publisher)
The Virginian Thomas Manstead episode: Ah Sing vs. Wyoming
The Outsider Marvin Bishop (TV movie)
1968 Flesh and Blood Harry (TV movie)
Mission: Impossible Raymond Halder episode: The Counterfeiter
1969 It Takes a Thief Rocky McCauley episode: Rock-Bye, Bye, Baby
The Wild Bunch Freddie Sykes
The Love God? Osborn Tremaine
The Bold Ones: The Protectors Warden Millbank episode: If I Should Wake Before I Die
1970 Insight Houseworthy - Tycoon episode: The 7 Minute Life of James Houseworthy
The Intruders Col. William Bodeen (TV movie)
The Young Lawyers MacGillicuddy episode: MacGillicuddy Always Was a Pain in the Neck
Dream No Evil Timothy MacDonald
1971 The Name of the Game Bergman episode: LA 2017
The High Chaparral Morgan MacQuarie episode: The Hostage
River of Mystery R.J. Twitchell
What's a Nice Girl Like You...? Morton Stillman
1972 Cade's County Clint Pritchard episode: The Brothers
Jigsaw Det. Ed Burtelson (TV movie)
The Streets of San Francisco Officer Gustav 'Gus' Charnovski, SFPD episode: The Thirty-Year Pin
McMillan & Wife Mr. Fontaine episode: Cop of the Year
They Only Kill Their Masters George
The Other Side of the Wind Pat
1973 The New Temperatures Rising Show Dr. Banning episode: Super Doc
Isn't It Shocking? Justin Oates (TV movie)
Lucky Luciano Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger (credited as Edmund O'Brien)
1974 Police Story Chief Frank Modeer episode: Chain of Command
99 and 44/100% Dead Uncle Frank Kelly


  1. ^ a b c d "Edmond O'Brien, Actor, Dies at 69". The New York Times. May 10, 1985. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Oscar-winning actor Edmond O'Brien dies". Santa Cruz Sentinel. May 10, 1985. p. 10. Retrieved July 4, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ Edmond O'Brien Profile, New York Times. By staff. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Edmond O'Brien". oscars.org. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  5. ^ "Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway". The Digital Deli Too. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Review and Ratings of New Popular Albums" (PDF). Billboard. July 29, 1957. p. 34. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Vosburgh, Dick (January 20, 1995). "Obituary: Nancy Kelly". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Famed character actor dies
  9. ^ "Edmond O'Brien". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 5 July 2015. 

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