Jack O'Brien
born: 20 May 1895
Sydney, New South Wales,
Australia
died: 29 April 1975
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
(age 79)
 
Australian born actor, who has been confused as being "John B. O'Brien".

JESSE BRISSON has researched this guy quite well and explains here....

John B. O'Brien was a director who started out as an actor, but I had my doubts before that this director was the same fella as the Hal Roach actor. Looking at records, directories, and whatnot, I could not find anything to link John B. to any acting work at Roach.

Further evidence to seperate the O'Briens can be found in John B.'s Variety obituary: mentions his directorial work, but no mention of any acting work at Roach. Now, this could be plausible as the Roach stuff could've been a "side-thing" or perhaps even an "old shame," but alas, as I discovered, this was not to be...

I still had my doubts, and it was a damn good thing I retained them, too; I decided to Google "jack o'brien" "hal roach" and I came across this article in The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.), 4 June 1922:

Hal E. Roach has some brand-new comedy material from which to draw upon for future use, for Jack O'Brien, one of his stock actors, has a fine new son, born March 31, at his home, 5083 Lemon Grove avenue, Hollywood. As Mr. O'Brien is a stunt man, it is expected that his son and heir will qualify for thrillers. Anyway, he cannot escape comedy, for he is to be named after Harry "Snub" Pollard, who comes from O'Brien's country, Australia, while both the comedian and his leading lady, Marie Mosquini, will be the youngsters god parents.

This already provided several leads for me:  Jack was a stuntman at Roach; Jack was born in Australia (John B., if you'll recall, was born in Virginia); Jack had a son born in Los Angeles County on March 31, 1922 - therefore, a CA Birth Index entry should be plausible.

I went to the Ancestry search engine, typed in the birth date of 31 March 1922, birth place: Los Angeles (alt. California), and surname "O'Brien." What did I find? Well, the baby wasn't named after "Snub," but was instead named OWEN T. O'BRIEN, mother's maiden name COOKE.

Immediately, I decided to head to FamilySearch and look for Owen in the Censuses. The pieces fell into place quickly...

1930 CENSUS (9 April 1930): John and wife Yvonne (both 34, married at 24, and born in Australia) immigrated in 1920 and are aliens. They are renting a home at 3448 McManus Ave. in Culver City, Los Angeles, California for $25 a month (with a radio set). They have four sons: Owen (8), Bryan (5), Kevin (3 and 3 months), and Donn (1). John is an actor in motion pictures.

1940 CENSUS (17 April 1940): Pretty much the same as above, except:
- we got middle initials (John M, Yvonne F, Owen T, Bryan J, Kevin P but no initial for Donny)
- the addition of son Michael D. (age 9)
- John is now a property man in motion pictures; he worked 39 weeks in 1939 and earned $1996
- they now own 3448 McManus (valued at $2400)

The newfound middle initial of "M" for Jack proved helpful in locating a WWII draft registration card for him. Still living at 3448 McManus, JOHN MICHAEL O'BRIEN was born in Sydney, Australia on 20 May 1895. He works at M-G-M, and signs the card "Jack M. O'Brien." He is 5'7½", weighs 150 lbs, has brown eyes and hair, a light brown complexion, and a large mole on his left hip. This info is pretty much the same as what I found when I stumbled on a 1920 passenger list for him: 5'8" (perhaps the more "page-worthy" height), dark complexion and hair, brown eyes, and "Mole L Hip."
Real name: John Michael O'Brien
Height: 5'8"
Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.

48


1919
Bumping Into Broadway
[unidentified character]
 

1919
Captain Kidd's Kids
[unidentified character]
 

1919
From Hand To Mouth
[unidentified character]
 

1920
His Royal Slyness
[?]

1920
Haunted Spooks
[unidentified character]
 

1920
Queen's Up
[unidentified character]
 

1921
At The Ringside
O'Flaherty gang member
 

1921
Spot Cash
Rival's assistant

1921
I Do
[unidentified character]
 

1921
Dodge Your Debts
[unidentified character]

1921
Fifteen Minutes
Man at shooting range

1922
Stage Struck
Audience member

1922
365 Days
Relative
 

1922
Our Gang
Policeman

1923
Where Am I?
Hotel guest/
Driver

1923
The Noon Whistle
Mill worker
 

1923
White Wings
Dental patient who gets hit by Fin

1923
Short Orders
Customer hit by flour/
Customer asking for meringue

1923
Finger Prints
Arguing man at counter

1923
It's A Gift
Policeman/
Drowning man

1923
Frozen Hearts
Officer at gun duel

1923
The Whole Truth
Second chemist

1923
The Soilers
Prospector

1923
Join The Circus
Circus trainer
 

1923
Scorching Sands
Arab

1924
At First Sight
Shoeshiner

1924
The Cowboy Sheik
Ranch hand

1924
Postage Due
?
 

1924
Zeb vs. Paprika
?
 

1924
Brothers Under The Chin
[?]
 

1924
Publicity Pays
Stage actor

1924
Don't Park There
Bystander/
Policeman in San Francisco

1924
Wide Open Spaces
Gang member

1925
Big Red Ridinghood
Another scholar

1926
The Old War-Horse
Firing squad soldier

1926
The Fourth Alarm!
Fireman

1927
The Old Wallop
Man who loses teeth

1927
The Battle Of The Century
Shoeshine patron

1928
You're Darn Tootin'
Street combatant

1928
Their Purple Moment
Pink Pup patron

1928
Two Tars
Motorist

1929
Noisy Noises
Lemon vendor
 

1929
Little Mother
Flipping pedestrian sprayed with hose

1929
Cat, Dog & Co.
Fruit vendor

1929
They Go Boom!
Tenant falling through ceiling

1929
Saturday's Lesson
The Devil

1929
Double Whoopee
Hotel employee

1929
Berth Marks
Man who trips over Stan's briefcase
DVD screencapture - Lord Heath - Laurel & Hardy - Another Nice Mess - http://www.lordheath.com/

Acknowledgements:
http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/O%27Brien-2489 (WikiTree)

JOHN B. O'BRIEN...
https://archive.org/stream/motionpicturestu00moti#page/118/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (1916 directory)
https://archive.org/stream/moctu00moti#page/143/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (1917 directory)
https://archive.org/stream/motrestu00moti#page/186/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (1918 directory)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXYM-HD6 (WWI Draft Reg. Card)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-26515-32329-66?cc=1968530 (WWI Draft Reg. Card)
https://archive.org/stream/motionpicturestu00moti_0#page/n307/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (1920 directory)
https://archive.org/stream/motionpicturestu00johnrich#page/272/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (1921 directory)
https://archive.org/stream/variety123-1936-08#page/n183/mode/1up/search/o%27brien (Variety, 19 Aug 1936)

JOHN MICHAEL "JACK" O'BRIEN (1895-1975)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KX4V-8XY (1920 passenger list)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22244-25058-17?cc=1916078 (1920 passenger list, line 14)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-22244-25806-72?cc=1916078 (1920 passenger list, line 14)
http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83045782/1922-06-04/ed-1/seq-57/ (The Sunday Oregonian [Portland, Oregon], 4 Jun 1922)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XCDC-69F (1930 Census)
https://archive.org/stream/californiacensus00reel176#page/n102/mode/1up (1930 Census, line 45)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K9WG-C51 (1940 Census)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-27796-1902-10?cc=2000219 (1940 Census, line 26)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V4DC-TGM (WWII Draft Reg. Card)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16386-79574-45?cc=1861144 (WWII Draft Reg. Card)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-16386-76888-40?cc=1861144 (WWII Draft Reg. Card)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KXQH-D88 (CA Nat. Index)
https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-14856-51288-41?cc=1849628 (CA Nat. Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPNJ-F4N (CA Death Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J11T-T6K (Social Security Death Index)
http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/O%27Brien-2489 (WikiTree)
http://www.geni.com/people/John-O-Brien/6000000028462314782 (Geni)

VERA/VERONICA FRANCES COOKE [O'BRIEN] (1895-1954)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2RZ-WCP (CA Death Index)
http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cook-9995 (WikiTree - family history and photos!)
http://www.geni.com/people/Vera-O-Brien/6000000028462869282

OWEN THOMAS O'BRIEN (1922-1994)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VLNW-LLT (CA Birth Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K86S-QHR (marriage)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPSL-P8B (CA Death Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J5DF-WZZ (SS Death Index)

BRIAN JOHN O'BRIEN (1924-2011)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VG4V-4XM (CA Death Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8KX-NNL (marriage)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VHCZ-W2L (SS Death Index)

KEVIN PATRICK O'BRIEN (b. 1927)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VG6Y-MP2 (CA Birth Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K823-899 (marriage)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJJD-84QS (public record)

DONN TERENCE O'BRIEN (b. 1929)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VL58-7Z5 (CA Birth Index)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8KB-BQ7 (marriage #1)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K866-JR4 (marriage #2)

DENNIS MICHAEL O'BRIEN (b. 1931)
https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2RZ-WCP (CA Birth Index)

Randy Skretvedt (identification in "Berth Marks")
Jesse Brisson (help, information, research, identifying him in several films)
Michael O'Brien (Jack's grandson) (photo)

This page was last updated on: 30 November 2018