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RIP: Hugh O'Brian, From UC To 'Wyatt Earp'

ABC Television

Actor Hugh O'Brian, who dropped out of the University of Cincinnati to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, died at his Beverly Hills home Monday. He was 91.

O'Brian was best known as TV's Western lawman Wyatt Earp.

He starred in ABC's "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," which premiered in 1955 along with "Gunsmoke" and "Cheyenne," the first trio of "adult" TV westerns.

Credit Wikipedia
Hugh O'Brian, Rod Serling and Lloyd Bridges before "Chrysler Theater" aired Serlings' "Exit From a Plane In Flight" in 1965;

"Wyatt Earp" was a top 20 show for most of its six years on the air (1955-61). He reprised the role on CBS' "Guns of Paradise" in 1990, "The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw" in 1991 and "Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone" in 1994.

His credits included "The Lawless Breed" (1953); "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954); "Come Fly With Me" (1963); "Love Has Many Faces" (1965); "Exit From a Plane In Flight, a Rod Serling script produced by "Chrysler Theater" in 1965; "Ten Little Indians" (1965); "The Shootist" (John Wayne's final film in 1976), and the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Danny DeVito comedy "Twins."  

O'Brian also did guest shots on "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," "Charlie’s Angels," "LA Law," "Murder She Wrote," "Perry Mason," "Make Room for Daddy" and the "Red Skelton Show." He also starred on Broadway in "The Odd Couple," "First Love" and "Destiny Rides Again," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Born Hugh Charles Krampe on April 19, 1925, in Rochester, N.Y., he grew up in Winnetka, Ill., where he lettered in football, basketball, track and wrestling. He was at UC for only one semester before dropping out to join the Marines. His first movie role was in "Kidnapped" in 1948, three years after the war ended.

While starring as "Wyatt Earp," he founded the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) in 1958 "to establish a new generation of leaders in the volunteer and service fields. To date, over 470,000 people have participated in the leadership programs the organization offers," EW said.

Credit Wikipedia
Hugh O'Brian in 1964.

EW quoted O'Brian as once saying about his foundation: "I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose: to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love."

His autobiography, "Hugh O'Brian, Or What's Left Of Him" is available at his hughobrian website.