• 19 April 1899
  •  San Francisco, California, USA

George O'Brien


George was the son of the San Francisco Chief of Police who became a college athlete. He was the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the Pacific Fleet during World War I. In the early 1920s, George wound up in Hollywood where he worked as a stuntman and part time actor. In 1924, Director John Ford picked virtually unknown George to star in his first picture, The Iron Horse (1924). Over the next two years, he would appear in four more Ford films and would co-star with Janet Gaynor in The Blue Eagle (1926) and Sunrise (1927). "Sunrise," a winner of two Academy Awards, was the story of a simple farmer who lets another woman talk him into murdering his wife. George remained popular until sound came along. By that time, his popularity was sliding, but he did make the transition to sound. With his rugged looks and physical size, he was soon a Western Cowboy Star. He was in some of the best stories ever written, Riders of the Purple Sage (1931), and in some of the worst. But he was consistently in the Top Ten money-making Western Stars. He would appear in a few films outside the horse set, such as Ever Since Eve (1934), but those roles would be few. By the end of the 1930s, George was still a popular 'B' movie Cowboy Star, but he would not take the parts as seriously as he did a decade before. During World War II, he hung up his spurs, and he re-enlisted in the Navy where he fought in the Pacific and was decorated many times. After the war, when he would not find work in acting, John Ford, his old Director, would give him work with the cavalry in three of his films.