Hugh O'Brian (1925 - 2016)

Hugh O'Brian, the actor who was known best for playing the title role on the 1950s TV Western "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," died Sept. 5, 2016, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 91.

Born Hugh Charles Krampe April 19, 1925, in Rochester, New York, O'Brian enlisted in the U.S. Marines during World War II. After the war, he began his acting career after being discovered by actress Ida Lupino. His first movie was "Never Fear," which Lupino directed.

After scoring a contract with Universal Pictures, the 6-foot-1, square-jawed O'Brian appeared in mostly Western films, including "Buckaroo Sheriff of Texas" (1951), "Little Big Horn" (1951), "The Battle at Apache Pass" (1952), and "The Cimarron Kid" (1952).

O'Brian was known best, however, for his role as Wyatt Earp on the Western series "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp," which aired on ABC from 1955 until 1961. The show was a top-10 hit throughout its run, which coincided with other popular TV Westerns including "Gunsmoke" and "Cheyenne."


In his private life, O'Brian was known for establishing the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership program. The nonprofit organization helps to instill leadership skills in high school students in all 50 of the United States as well as 20 countries.


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He is survived by his wife, Virginia O'Brian, whom he married in 2006 after being together for 16 years.

"I said goodbye early this morning to my favorite cowboy," Virginia O'Brian said in a statement after her husband's death. "My 28 years with Hugh has been an amazing, beautiful adventure. I miss my special man who told me every day I was beautiful and that he loved me, I feel very fortunate that Hugh came into my life. I was one lucky cowgirl."

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