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).
Life and career
O'Brien was born was in New York City, New York of English and Irish stock. After majoring in drama at Columbia University, he made his first Broadway appearance at age 21 in Daughters of Atreus. 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.
He 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). 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. 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 to 1960, O'Brien portrayed the title role in the syndicated crime drama Johnny Midnight, the story of a New York City actor-turned-private detective. Two years after Johnny Midnight, he was cast as lawyer Sam Benedict.
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-1960s, O'Brien co-starred with Roger Mobley and Harvey Korman in the "Gallagher" episodes of NBC's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. From 1963 to 1965, he co-starred in the NBC legal drama Sam Benedict.
O'Brien was divorced from actresses Nancy Kelly 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 in Inglewood, California, of Alzheimer's disease. He is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.
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.
1. Edmond O'Brien Profile, New York Times. By staff. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
2. Famed character actor dies