Pat O'Brien


Actor
Pat O'Brien

About

Also Known As
William Joseph Patrick O'Brien Jr.
Birth Place
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Born
November 11, 1899
Died
October 15, 1983
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

A veteran Irish-American lead and character player, Pat O'Brien is best known as one of the cynical reporters in the sterling first screen version of the Broadway play, "The Front Page" (1931), the title role (opposite Ronald Reagan) in "Knute Rockne--All American" (1940) and as Jimmy Cagney's clerical confidante in "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938).A sharp, wisecracking type in the early...

Photos & Videos

Crack-Up - Lobby Card Set
Virtue - Movie Posters
A Dangerous Profession - Lobby Card Set

Family & Companions

Eloise Taylor
Wife
Actress. Married from 1931 until his death.

Bibliography

"The Wind at My Back: The Life and Times of Pat O'Brien"
Pat O'Brien (1964)

Biography

A veteran Irish-American lead and character player, Pat O'Brien is best known as one of the cynical reporters in the sterling first screen version of the Broadway play, "The Front Page" (1931), the title role (opposite Ronald Reagan) in "Knute Rockne--All American" (1940) and as Jimmy Cagney's clerical confidante in "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938).

A sharp, wisecracking type in the early 1930s, O'Brien found his star persona becoming increasingly sentimentalized after the Production Code crackdown of 1934, but occasionally returned memorably to his earlier type, as in "Torrid Zone" (1940), opposite Cagney and Ann Sheridan. He remained a popular star through the 40s, often in stalwart roles such as not only his Rockne but also "The Iron Major" (1943). A childhood friend of Spencer Tracy, O'Brien acted with Tracy in "The People Against O'Hara" (1951) and in John Ford's sentimental roundup of veteran character players, "The Last Hurrah" (1958). Billy Wilder also put his iconic value to good use as an Irish cop on the tail of both the gangsters and the cross-dressing heroes on the run in the director's hilarious "Some Like It Hot" (1959).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Ragtime (1981)
Scout's Honor (1980)
The End (1978)
Kiss Me... Kill Me (1976)
Jimmy--Morgue Attendant
Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1976)
The Adventures of Nick Carter (1972)
Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol (1972)
Sergeant Mcgill
The Phynx (1970)
The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969)
Naked Fog (1966)
Lynn
Town Tamer (1965)
Judge Murcott
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Mulligan
The Last Hurrah (1958)
John Gorman
Kill Me Tomorrow (1957)
Bart Crosbie
Inside Detroit (1956)
Gus Linden
Jubilee Trail (1954)
Texas
Ring of Fear (1954)
Frank Wallace
Okinawa (1952)
Lt. Commander Hale
Criminal Lawyer (1951)
Jimmy Reagan
The People Against O'Hara (1951)
Vince Ricks
The Hills of Ireland (1951)
Narrated by
The Fireball (1950)
Father O'Hara
Johnny One-Eye (1950)
Martin Martin
A Dangerous Profession (1949)
Joe Farley
Fighting Father Dunne (1948)
Father [Peter J.] Dunne
The Boy with Green Hair (1948)
Gramp [Frye]
Riffraff (1947)
Dan [Hammer]
Perilous Holiday (1946)
Patrick Nevil
Crack-Up (1946)
George Steele
Man Alive (1945)
Michael O'Flaherty "Speed" McBride
Having Wonderful Crime (1945)
Michael J. Malone
Marine Raiders (1944)
Major Steve Lockhard
Secret Command (1944)
Sam Gallagher
The Iron Major (1943)
Frank "Cav" Cavanaugh
Bombardier (1943)
Major Chick Davis
His Butler's Sister (1943)
Martin Murphy
Broadway (1942)
Dan [Alyosius] McCorn
Two Yanks in Trinidad (1942)
Tim ["Timmy"] Reardon
The Navy Comes Through (1942)
Michael Mallory
Flight Lieutenant (1942)
Sam Doyle
The Fighting 69th (1940)
Father [Francis] Duffy
Escape to Glory (1940)
Mike Farrough
Knute Rockne--All American (1940)
Knute Rockne
Flowing Gold (1940)
Hap O'Connor
'Til We Meet Again (1940)
Steve Burke
Torrid Zone (1940)
Steve Case
Castle on the Hudson (1940)
Warden Long
The Night of Nights (1939)
Dan O'Farrell
Indianapolis Speedway (1939)
Joe Greer
Slightly Honorable (1939)
John Webb
The Kid from Kokomo (1939)
Billy Murphy
Off the Record (1939)
Thomas "Breezy" Elliott
Cowboy from Brooklyn (1938)
Ray Chadwick
Women Are Like That (1938)
Bill Landin
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Jerry Connolly
Boy Meets Girl (1938)
J. C. Benson
Garden of the Moon (1938)
John Quinn
San Quentin (1937)
Capt. Stephen Jameson
Slim (1937)
Red Blayd
Submarine D-1 (1937)
"Butch" Rogers
Back in Circulation (1937)
Bill Morgan
The Great O'Malley (1937)
James Aloysius O'Malley
Ceiling Zero (1936)
Jake Lee
Public Enemy's Wife (1936)
Lee Laird
I Married a Doctor (1936)
Dr. Wm. [Will] P. Kennicott
China Clipper (1936)
Dave Logan
Page Miss Glory (1935)
Click Wiley
In Caliente (1935)
Larry MacArthur
Devil Dogs of the Air (1935)
Lieut. [Bill] Brannigan
The Irish in Us (1935)
Pat O'Hara
Stars over Broadway (1935)
Al McGillevray
Oil for the Lamps of China (1935)
Stephen Chase
The Roaring West (1935)
Here Comes the Navy (1934)
Biff [Martin]
I've Got Your Number (1934)
Terry [Riley]
Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934)
Rush [Blake]
I Sell Anything (1934)
Spot Cash Cutler
The Personality Kid (1934)
Ritzy [McCarty]
Gambling Lady (1934)
Charlie Lang
Flirtation Walk (1934)
Scrapper Thornhill
Bombshell (1933)
[Jim] Brogan
Bureau of Missing Persons (1933)
Butch Saunders
Destination Unknown (1933)
Matt Brennan
The World Gone Mad (1933)
Andy Terrell
Laughter in Hell (1933)
Barney Slaney
College Coach (1933)
Coach Gore
Flaming Gold (1933)
[Ben] Lear
Virtue (1932)
Jimmy [Doyle]
American Madness (1932)
Matt [Brown]
Hell's House (1932)
Kelly
Hollywood Speaks (1932)
Jimmy Reed
The Strange Case of Clara Deane (1932)
Frank Deane
The Final Edition (1932)
Sam Bradshaw
Air Mail (1932)
Duke Talbot
Scandal for Sale (1932)
Waddell
The Front Page (1931)
Hildy Johnson
Consolation Marriage (1931)
Steve Porter
Personal Maid (1931)
Peter Shea
Flying High (1931)
Sport [Wardell]

Cast (Special)

Amanda Fallon (1973)
Super Comedy Bowl 1 (1971)
Operation Entertainment (1954)

Cast (Short)

Swingtime in the Movies (1938)
Himself
Out Where the Stars Begin (1938)
Himself
Breakdowns of 1936 (1936)
Himself
A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio (1935)
Himself
A Dream Comes True The Making of an Unusual Motion Picture (1935)
Himself
Things You Never See on the Screen (1935)
Himself
Compliments of the Season (1930)

Life Events

1923

Joined a traveling stock theater company

1930

Had an uncredited turn as a police detective in "Compliments of the Season"

1931

Breakthrough film role, Hildy Johnson in "The Front Page"

1933

Played a studio head in Victor Fleming's Hollywood satire "Bombshell", starring Jean Harlow

1934

First film with James Cagney, Lloyd Bacon's "Here Comes the Navy"

1935

Featured in Bacon's "Devil Dogs of the Air" and "The Irish In Us" with James Cagney

1935

Reteamed with Cagney in Howard Hawks' "Ceiling Zero"

1938

Played the priest opposite Cagney's gangster in "Angels With Dirty Faces", Michael Curtiz's iconic portrait of childhood friends who take different paths

1938

Reteamed with Bacon and Cagney, playing a wisecracking screenwriter in the fast-moving Hollywood spoof "Boy Meets Girl"

1940

Played Father Francis Duffy, the beloved chaplain of WWI's famed New York Irish regiment in "The Fighting 69th"

1940

Starred as the titular Notre Dame coach in "Knute Rockne, All American"; producers initially wanted Cagney for the role but Rockne's widow insisted upon O'Brien

1942

Starred with George Raft in the second film adaptation of the Prohibition-set "Broadway"

1943

Played Major Chick Davis, a commander in charge of turning cadets into fighter pilots in the quasi-documentary "Bombardier"

1944

Was star of the jungle-set WWII adventure "Marine Raiders"

1945

Starred as a lawyer trying to keep his clients out of trouble on their honeymoon in the zany but predictable caper "Having Wonderful Crime"

1947

Starred with Anne Jeffreys in the adventure "Riffraff", playing private eye Dan Hammer

1948

Starred in "Fighting Father Dunne" as a parish priest in 1900s St Louis trying to help the street urchin newsboys

1948

Played Gramp, a lovable ex-vaudevillean who serves as guardian to "The Boy with Green Hair", an orphaned and tormented youngster played by Dean Stockwell

1950

As Father O'Hara in "The Fireball", runs the orphanage that Mickey Rooney's rollerskating champ flees

1951

Featured in "The People Against O'Hara"; paired with Spencer Tracy, who had never starred in a film with O'Brien despite their longtime friendship

1952

Played the Commander of a Navy warship leading an attack on Japan in "Okinawa", a WWII action drama

1955

Co-starred in "Inside Detroit", a dramatized expose of corruption in the US auto industry

1958

Starred with Tracy in John Ford's political drama "The Last Hurrah"

1959

Had a featured role in the Billy Wilder classic "Some Like it Hot", playing the cop trailing the gangsters and the bumbling heros in drag

1960

Starred as a maverick veteran lawyer partnered with his newly practicing by-the-book son in the ABC sitcom "Harrigan and Son"

1965

Lone film credit of the decade, co-starring role in the Western "Town Tamer"

1969

Starred as a retired Texas Ranger who reenters law enforcement to clean up a besieged small town in the ABC TV-movie "The Over-the-Hill Gang", co-starring such fellow veterans as Walter Brennan and Andy Devine

1973

Starred as a doctor in "The Other Woman", an installment of of the daytime drama special series "ABC's Matinee Today"

1977

Portrayed the US Vice President in the sequel/remake "Billy Jack Goes to Washington"

1978

With Myrna Loy, co-starred as Burt Reynolds parents in the black comedy "The End"

1980

Final TV-movie role, co-starring in the Gary Coleman vehicle "Scout's Honor"

1980

Played Howard's uncle Joe on "Happy Days" (ABC)

1981

Final film role, playing Delmas in Milos Forman's "Ragtime", also starring Cagney in his final role

Photo Collections

Crack-Up - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from RKO's Crack-Up (1946), starring Pat O'Brien and Claire Trevor. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Virtue - Movie Posters
Virtue - Movie Posters
A Dangerous Profession - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from RKO's A Dangerous Profession (1949), starring George Raft and Pat O'Brien. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Twenty Million Sweethearts - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from First National's Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Flight Lieutenant - Movie Poster
Here is a half-sheet movie poster for Flight Lieutenant (1942), starring Pat O'Brien. Half sheets measured 22 x 28 inches.
Knute Rockne, All American - Scene Stills
Here are several scene stills from Warner Bros' Knute Rockne, All American (1940), starring Pat O'Brien and Ronald Reagan.

Videos

Movie Clip

Boy Meets Girl (1938) - What Is Our Story? Actor Larry (Dick Foran) and his agent (Frank McHugh) discover the elaborate diversion by screenwriters Benson & Law (Pat O'Brien, James Cagney), who are up to other studio mischief, in Warner Bros.' back-lot comedy Boy Meets Girl, 1938.
Bombardier (1943) - Open, To Fit Him For His Task Three years between the start of production and release, during which time the U.S. entered WWII, RKO’s muscular opening to Bombardier, 1943, with the real General Eugene Lowry Eubank (1892-1997!), and a high level disagreement between Army Air Force officers and leading men Pat O’Brien and Randolph Scott.
Bombardier (1943) - I Do Solemnly Swear In an early role which earned him praise and career support from Pat O’Brien, Robert Ryan as trainee Joe Connors consults with Pat as his superior and buddy Major “Chick” Davis about motivations and reveals that he’s been approached by probable spies at their New Mexico air base, in Bombardier, 1943.
Bombardier (1943) - You Look Scared Stiff Part of a series of impressive technical sequences, Russell Wade as Army Air Force trainee Harris, leading man Pat O’Brien narrating, Charles Russell the instructor, Randolph Scott in the cockpit, Academy Award-nominated Special Effects by Vernon L. Walker, editing by Robert Wise (assisted by young Robert Aldrich), in RKO’s Bombardier, 1943.
Bombardier (1943) - It's Just As Unlogical Randolph Scott as Army Air Force Captain Buck Oliver, a reluctant convert to high-altitude bombing, dictates a letter to old friend “Burt” (Anne Shirley) in New Mexico, advising her that his colleague Major “Chick” Davis will arrive soon to launch a training program, Barton MacLane his sergeant Dixon, in Bombardier, 1943.
Here Comes The Navy (1934) - Let's Have A Hot One! Their first-ever scene, in the first of nine features they made together, Pat O’Brien as Navy officer Biff (escorting Ida Darling et al) meets James Cagney as iron worker Chesty, with background shots from the Navy Yard at Bremerton, WA, Lloyd Bacon directing, opening Warner Bros.’ Here Comes The Navy, 1934.
Here Comes The Navy (1934) - Look At The Trim Lines! Now shooting on board the U.S.S Arizona, before it became the famous memorial at Pearl Harbor, swabbies Droopy (Frank McHugh) and Chesty (James Cagney), who joined the Navy to get even with officer Biff (Pat O’Brien), who stole a previous girlfriend, get their heads turned by Gloria Stuart, not yet knowing she’s Pat’s sister, in Here Comes The Navy, 1934.
Consolation Marriage (1931) - I Need To Be Lied To Recently jilted reporter "Rollo" (Pat O'Brien) is being consoled by his editor Jeff (John Halliday) when he meets the equally-dumped Mary (Irene Dunne) for the first time, in RKO's Consolation Marriage, 1931.
Consolation Marriage (1931) - Rub It Till It Growls Reporter Steve (sometimes "Rollo," Pat O'Brien) visits girlfriend Elaine (bracingly blonde Myrna Loy) after a long stint overseas, and gets real bad news, early in Consolation Marriage, 1931.
Front Page, The (1931) - Did You Ever Come Up Out Of A Sewer? Reporter Hildy (Pat O'Brien) and fiance` Mary (Peggy Grant) are introduced, planning their escape, unaware of editor Walter Burns' (Adolphe Menjou) close puruit, in director Lewis Milestone's The Front Page, 1931.
Front Page, The (1931) - Crushed By The System Hildy (Pat O'Brien) is torn between romantic plans and a giant scoop when escaped murderer Earl Williams (George E. Stone) appears in the press room, in Lewis Milestone's The Front Page, 1931.
Crack-Up (1946) - Got Hold Of A Bad Blend Opening sequence in which crazed Steele (Pat O'Brien) busts into the museum and tangles with a statue, a cop (Edward Gargan) and, indirectly, the chairman (Erskine Sanford), in Crack-Up, directed by Irving Reis.

Trailer

Irish in Us, The -- (Original Trailer) An' begorrah, why would we be runnin' a James Cagney-Pat O'Brien comedy, now? Blame it on The Irish in Us (1935).
Twenty Million Sweethearts - (Original Trailer) A promoter (Pat O'Brien) neglects his wife to make a singer (Dick Powell) a radio star in Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934).
Gambling Lady - (Original Trailer) Barbara Stanwyck is Lady Lee, Gambling Lady (1934), in love with accused murderer Joel McCrea.
Boy Meets Girl - (Original Trailer) Two wacky Hollywood writers drive their boss crazy while trying to help a pregnant waitress in Boy Meets Girl (1938) with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.
Flirtation Walk - (Original Trailer) 42nd Street stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler head a musical salute to West Point in Flirtation Walk (1934).
End, The - (Original Trailer) Burt Reynolds is dying so he hires loony Dom DeLuise to kill him in the comedy The End (1978).
Criminal Lawyer - (Original Trailer) An alcoholic lawyer (Pat O'Brien) sobers up to defend his friend in a murder case in Criminal Lawyer (1951).
Dangerous Profession, A - (Original Trailer) A bail bondsman (George Raft) is asked to raise money to free his ex-girlfriend's husband. It's A Dangerous Profession (1949).
Crack-Up - (Original Trailer) An art critic (Pat O'Brien) risks his reputation and his life to track down a forgery racket.
Cowboy from Brooklyn, The - (Original Trailer) A singing cowboy (Dick Powell) turns out to be a tenderfoot. Co-starring Pat O'Brien, directed by Lloyd Bacon.
College Coach, The - (Original Trailer) Pat O'Brien may end up giving Ann Dvorak for the Gipper as The College Coach (1933) co-starring Dick Powell.
China Clipper - (Original Trailer) A flyer (Pat O'Brien) sacrifices everything to open a transpacific airline in China Clipper (1936) co-starring Humphrey Bogart.

Family

William O'Brien
Father
Son of Irish immigrants.
Margaret O'Brien
Mother
Daughter of Irish immigrants.
Mavourneen O'Brien
Daughter
Sean O'Brien
Son
Terry O'Brien
Son
Brigid O'Brien
Daughter

Companions

Eloise Taylor
Wife
Actress. Married from 1931 until his death.

Bibliography

"The Wind at My Back: The Life and Times of Pat O'Brien"
Pat O'Brien (1964)