Jim O'Brien (reporter)

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Jim O'Brien ( James Franklin Oldham)
Born (1939-11-20)November 20, 1939
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Died September 25, 1983(1983-09-25) (aged 43)
near Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Jim O'Brien was the stage name of James Franklin Oldham (November 20, 1939–September 25, 1983), a newscaster.

He was born in Galveston in 1939. He married Sandra Jo Hauck, in a small ceremony in Texas. They had two daughters: actress Peri Gilpin, who played the character Roz Doyle on the television program Frasier, and Patti Jo Oldham.

He came to Philadelphia in 1970 to become a disc jockey at radio station WFIL, after short stints at KHJ in Los Angeles and WOR-FM in New York City.

Around 1971, he joined the WPVI-TV Channel 6 Action News team as a sports anchor. He soon became the weatherman and became a local, beloved legend with his presentation of the weather, being the only Philadelphia area weatherman to use a pointer while on the air. O'Brien eventually co-anchored the 12:00PM and 5:00PM newscasts, the local edition of Dialing for Dollars, and the weekend magazine show Primetime.

O'Brien had two favorite hobbies: motorcycle riding and skydiving. The latter hobby led to his untimely death in a skydiving accident on September 25, 1983 at the United Parachute Club (no longer in existence), located in New Hanover Township, just outside Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania. He and another skydiver jumping with him safely deployed their main parachutes; but during their descent under their open parachutes, they accidentally collided with each other, and their parachutes became entangled. After trying unsuccessfully to detach themselves from each other, O'Brien, an experienced skydiver, performed a standard skydiving emergency procedure called a "cutaway", in which he jettisoned his main parachute and deployed his reserve parachute. Unfortunately, by the time he performed the "cutaway" maneuver, he was already at such a low altitude that he struck the ground before his reserve canopy, which was in the process of deploying, was able to inflate.

O'Brien was posthumously inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 1997.


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