Hugh O’Brian, born on April 19, 1925 in Rochester, New York. His original name is Hugh Charles Krampe, he changed it to O’Brien (from his mother’s side), because it was prone to less misspelling. But they misspelled that, too, as “O’Brian,” so he just decided to stay with that.
He attended school at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, and Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, playing football, basketball, wrestling, and track. After graduation he spent a semester at the University of Cincinnati, studying law. He then enlisted in the Marine Corps during World War II, at the age of 17 and became the youngest Marine Corps drill instructor in American history. O’Brian served as a tank crewman, during his four-year service, he won a coveted Fleet appointment to the Naval Academy. After passing the entrance exams, he declined the appointment, to enroll at Yale University, to study law. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Corporal.
Hugh went to Los Angeles, where he planned to earn money for his Yale tuition. He met Ruth Roman and Linda Christian, who introduced him to a little theater group and was asked to fill in when a leading actor became ill.
Hugh became one of the forefathers of the modern Western, best known for portraying Sheriff Wyatt Earp in TV’s “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp”. He had a successful acting career that lasted into the early 2000s, with 112 credits including appearances on Charlie’s Angels, L.A. Law, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Love Boat. He shared the screen with legends such as Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Spencer Tracy, Patricia Neal, Marilyn Monroe and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He is now most remembered for creating a non-profit organization, known as Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), to help high school sophomores develop leadership abilities. O’Brian founded HOBY in 1958, after being inspired by the work of the Nobel Prize-winning Albert Schweitzer, since then more than 470,000 people have attended the program.
Hugh died at his home in Beverly Hills, on September 5, 2016, at the age of 91 from a variety of unspecified health issues.