Follow Here To Purchase Hugh O'Brian, Or What's Left of Him

Authors: Hugh O'Brian and Virginia O'Brian

Publisher: Book Publishers Network; 1st edition (April 21, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1940598303

ISBN-13: 978-1940598307

"Wyatt Earp, Wyatt Earp, brave, courageous, and bold." I always wondered about that opening line to the famous theme to TV's long-running The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Don't brave, courageous, and bold all mean exactly the same thing?

Nitpicking about theme lyrics aside, there's no question The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp made an impression on those who watched it during its first run from 1955 to 1961. But another line in the same theme song proclaims, "long may his story be told," and that's certainly been the case for the adventures of a heavily fictionalized incarnation of a hero of the Old West.

So fans of that series are going to be interested in the autobiography of Hugh O'Brian who indeed gives us insider views into the evolution of his character. He describes how he chose his own outfit, how he contributed to the dialogue and style of the episodes, and how his gun-slinging ended up costing him much of his hearing.

But no actor's life begins and ends with one role, and O'Brian delivers a fast-paced memoir of his own life and times. He begins on a humorous note, telling us that, as a four year old, he started his own business selling used newspapers to earn pennies for candy. He shares his days in the Marines where, at the age of 17, he was the youngest drill instructor in the service and claims he was the one to coin the phrase, "ooh-rah!"

Of course, there are numerous anecdotes about the films and TV appearances he was involved in. He discusses his friendships with Debbie Reynolds and Hugh Hefner, both of whom wrote introductions for the book. He describes working on stage and within the studio system of the era. He worked with the likes of Ida Lupino, Lana Turner, John Wayne on the ailing actor's last film, and the proposed comedy team of O'Brian and Buddy Hackett. He met Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and many presidents during his life.

Among his many films, he was one of the sperm donors to the Danny DeVito/Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, Twins.

But the book changes gears when O'Brian describes his meeting in Africa with famed humanitarian Dr. Albert Sweitzer and how that changed his life. In 1958, he founded the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership, a non-profit development program for high school sophomores. It sponsors 10,000 students annually through its over 70 leadership programs in all 50 states and 20 countries. Justifiably, O'Brian is immeasurably proud of this achievement and its ongoing growth.

In the final pages, O'Brian takes to the pulpit with a rather repetitive sermon on what young people need to do to succeed—as in being givers rather than takers—and why older retirees should stay active and contribute to the community by volunteering. Well, if anyone has earned the privilege of lecturing senior citizens, it's O'Brian. After all, after a lifetime of enjoying lovely ladies, he finally got married at the age of 81. Now, "what's left of him" is just a few months short of his 90th birthday.

The story of Hugh O'Brian is well worth being told, even if many of his stories are so short as to be virtual good natured snapshots. If you're interested in Wyatt Earp, one man's mostly happy memories of Hollywood, and the impressive Youth Leadership program, here's a good read.