Saturday, April 19, 2008

You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby!

George O'Brien
1899 - 1985

Greetings classic movie fans and welcome to this April 19th online birthday card for the late movie star and U.S. Navy hero, George O'Brien.

A lot of George's fans come to him through Sunrise (1927), but I'm a backward gal. I first fell for the tragic and interesting Sam Collingwood in John Ford's Fort Apache (1948). Here was a character portrayed by an appealing and talented actor.

Later I found titles such as The Dude Ranger (1934) and The Marshal of Mesa City (1939) as irresistible as their handsome, athletic star. Here was a fellow as easy with the action, riding, and fisticuffs as with romancing his beautiful leading ladies. I don't think there's ever been an actor who shows more grace in manner and movement and ease in front of the camera.

Within the last year, I finally saw Murnau's legendary Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) in a theatre setting with live musical accompaniment. George is "the Man", driven to the brink of madness and murder then redeemed by love to his true nature. The movie and his performance is an experience. Such unabashed commitment to character and baring of one's soul is uncommon. That George was capable of more than "cowboy pictures" was proven and that he always brought his A game to his 30s westerns was shown by his popularity and his box office power.

George O'Brien was not a typical movie star. As a youngster, he lived through the 1905 San Francisco earthquake. His father, Daniel O'Brien, was the Chief of Police of the City. George enlisted in the Navy in WWI and when WWII blighted the earth he re-enlisted and was highly decorated for his service. Later, he would serve in Korea and Viet Nam. His one marriage was to beautiful screen star Marguerite Churchill (1910 - 2000). They were married for 15 years and had two children - the late writer Darcy O'Brien and New York Philharmonic bassist Orin O'Brien.

George O'Brien is recalled by contemporaries with admiration and loyalty. He garners more fans with the availability of his features on DVD and films airing on TCM. Check out recent releases of The Iron Horse (1924) and 3 Bad Men (1926).


  1. What a lovely tribute! There really is just "something about George" that is tremendously appealing.

    I'm sure he was a beautiful baby too -I'll bet he was smiling from a very early age - the George O'
    Brien smile is spreading sunshine from sea to sea (as the Fox ads put it in 1924)

  2. Thank you for the compliment, bearden. We're certainly lucky to have George's movies to enjoy.

  3. What a cool sounding family he had!

  4. AND, misstracey, I haven't even told you yet about George's dad, San Francisco Chief of Police Daniel O'Brien. The coolness just goes on and on.



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