Jim O'Brien (reporter)

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Jim O'Brien
Born James Franklin Oldham
(1939-11-20)November 20, 1939
Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Died September 25, 1983(1983-09-25) (aged 43)
near Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Cause of death skydiving accident
Other names Jim O'Brien (stage name)
Education Baylor University
Occupation Disc jockey, television newscaster and presenter
Years active
  • 1970—1971 (radio)
  • 1971—1983 (television)
Home town Philadelphia
Spouse(s) Sandra Jo Hauck (div. 1969)
Children
  • Peri Gilpin (born Peri Kay Oldham)
  • Patti Jo Wynne (née Oldham)
Awards Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame (posthumous, 1997)

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 (born Peri Kay Oldham), who played the beloved character Roz Doyle on the television program Frasier, and Patti Jo Wynne (née Oldham), who married Shannon Wynne.

According to Peri, he wished to become a pastor and was a theologician who studied at Baylor University.[1]

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 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 death in a skydiving accident on September 25, 1983 at the United Parachute Club near Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania. He and another skydiver jumping with him deployed their main parachutes, but during their descent under their open parachutes, they 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. However, by the time he performed the maneuver, he was already at such a low altitude that he struck the ground before his reserve canopy was able to inflate.[2]

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

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