Dave O'Brien (actor)

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Dave O'Brien
ReeferMadness 09.JPG
O'Brien in Reefer Madness
Born David Poole Fronabarger
(1912-05-31)May 31, 1912
Big Spring, Texas, U.S.
Died November 8, 1969(1969-11-08) (aged 57)
Catalina Island, California, U.S.
Years active 1930–1969
Spouse(s) Dorothy Short (1936-1954) (divorced) 2 children
Nancy O'Brien (1955-1969) (his death) 3 children
Children Patricia Barclay Fronabarger (b. 1942)
Pamela Fronabarger (b. 1945)[1]

Dave O'Brien (May 31, 1912 – November 8, 1969) was an American film actor, director, and writer. Born David Poole Fronabarger'[citation needed] in Big Spring, Texas, O'Brien started his film career in bit parts before gradually winning larger roles, mostly in B pictures.


O'Brien was best known to movie audiences in the 1940s as the hero of the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer comedy short film series Pete Smith Specialties narrated by Pete Smith. O'Brien wrote and directed many of these subjects under the name David Barclay. O'Brien also had a small dancing part with Bebe Daniels in the Busby Berkeley musical 42nd Street (1933).

He also appeared in many low-budget Westerns, often billed as "Tex" O'Brien, alluding to his home state. To modern audiences, he is most likely best to be remembered as a frantic dope addict in the 1936 low-budget exploitation film Tell Your Children (better known under its reissue title, Reefer Madness), yelling "Play it faster, play it faster!" to a piano-playing girl (Lillian Miles). He appeared in Queen of the Yukon (1940) as Bob Adams. In 1940, he appeared in The Devil Bat as part of a comedy team with Donald Kerr. They also appeared together in Son of the Navy (1940) and The Man Who Walked Alone (1945).

In 1942, O'Brien starred in the movie serial Captain Midnight, and had the lead role in the Western Brand of the Devil in 1944.

One of his later roles was in the MGM musical version of Kiss Me, Kate (1953), a rare featured role for the actor in an 'A' list big-budget production.

O'Brien married one of his co-stars of Reefer Madness, Dorothy Short, in 1936, but they divorced in 1954 after having two children. In 1955, he married Nancy O'Brien and had three more children. A very keen yachtsman and sailor, he died aged 57 of a heart attack aboard a 60-foot sloop named The White Cloud while competing in a yachting race off the California coast near Catalina Island.


Short subjects[edit]

  • First Aid (1943) as Crandall K. Krumb, the Husband
  • Movie Pests (1944) as Feet-in-the-Aisle-Pest (uncredited)
  • Just Suppose (1949) as the Dad (also Director)


External links[edit]