Who is Hugh Obrian? Rochester, New York, USA … Hugh O’Brian (born Hugh Charles Krampe, April 19, 1925 – September 5, 2016) was an American actor and humanitarian, best known for his starring roles in the ABC Western television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955–1961) and the NBC action television series Search (1972–1973).
Hugh O’Brian, who helped tame the Wild West as the star of TV’s “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” and was the founder of a long-running youth leadership development organization, has died. He was 91.
O’Brian, who had several health problems, died Monday morning with his wife nearby at their Beverly Hills home, said his publicist Harlan Boll.
Handsome, square-jawed and athletically fit, the dark-haired O’Brian appeared in a series of films and TV anthology series in the years before he became a star who portrayed the real Old West peace officer on “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp,” which ran on ABC from 1955 to 1961.
“Wyatt Earp,” the first adult western on TV, became a top 10 series and made O’Brian a household name.
O’Brian, who described the show’s theme song as the “brave, brave and daring” border lawyer, wore a black-clad jacket, a gold brooch vest, a tie and a black flat-edged hat – and he kept the peace with the help of a “Buntline Special”: a .45 revolver with an extra-long barrel.
I decided at the time that I didn’t want to go through life, known as Huge Krape, so I decided to take my mother’s last name, O’Brien. But they spelled it wrong.
In portraying Earp, O’Brian became known for his quick draw.
“I didn’t want to force them to cut away when that happened; I wanted it to be realistic,’ the actor said in an interview with ‘Archive of American Television’ from 2005.
He spent hundreds of hours practicing the fast draw, the result of which, “he said,” became a very great promotional tool … and everyone talked about the quick draw. “
During the series run, O’Brian received an Emmy nomination and was so identified with his shot TV character that he did his best to keep the name O’Brian separate from Earp.
He did it by acting a lot outside – on anthology series such as “Playhouse 90” and “Desilu Playhouse”” – as well as guest appearances on TV variety shows and a stint on Broadway with in the musical comedy “Destry Rides Again. “
Decades later, O’Brian appeared as Earp in two 1989 episodes of the Western TV series “Paradise.” He also appeared as Earp in the Kenny Rogers TV miniseries 1991 “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw”. And he starred in “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” a 1994 TV movie with flashbacks to scenes from his old series.
As O’Brian once said of the tv western that made him a star: “It’s been a great horse and she keeps coming around the bead.”
Among his post- “Wyatt Earp” movie credits were “Come Fly With Me”, “Africa – Texas Style”, “The Shootist” and “Twins.” He also starred in the NBC adventure series “Search” from 1972-73, did more acting and made guest appearances in series such as “Fantasy Island” and “The Love Boat”.
But O’Brian’s most enduring legacy is out of the picture.
More than 375,000 high school students selected by their schools have run his Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership organization, which was created “to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers for a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.”
The nonprofit grew out of an invitation to O’Brian from Dr. Albert Schweitzer to visit the medical missionary, a Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, at his famous hospital in Africa.
In the summer of 1958, O’Brian volunteered for nine days at the hospital on the banks of the Ogooue River in Gabon.
For O’Brian, it was a life-changing experience.
Every night after dinner, he and Schweitzer spent hours talking.
As O’Brian was getting ready to go down the river, he later recalled Schweitzer grabbing his hand and asking, “Hugh, what are you going to do with this?”
On his flight back to the United States, O’Brian reflected on Schweitzer’s comment that “the most important part of education teaches young people to think for themselves.””
“While the entertainment industry has lost one of his and the baby boomers have lost their Wyatt Earp,” said a statement on the HOBY website Monday, “we remember Hugh as a person who has dedicated his life to inspiring a global community of young people and volunteers committed to leadership, service and innovation. “
O’Brian was born Hugh Krampe in Rochester, N.Y., on April 19, 1925. He joined the Marine Corps in 1943 and was assigned to drill in San Diego.
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