20 May 1895
Sydney, New South Wales,
29 April 1975|
United States of America
(terminal bronchopneumonia/arteriosclerotic cerebrovascular disease, 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
|Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.|