Dave O'Brien (1912-1969) was born David Poole Fronabarger in Big Spring, Texas. He was a "jack of all trades" in the entertainment business. Dave started off as a dancer. He then found work as a stuntman and bit player and eventually started getting starring roles in westerns and serials. He was a popular actor with producers and directors because he could do his own stunts. In addition, he wrote songs for some of the westerns he starred in. If that weren't enough, he turned to TV as a writer for Red Skelton and won an Emmy.
Below: When two stunt greats go at it, you know serial fans are getting their money's worth. Yakima Canutt (left) and Dave O'Brien in "The Black Coin" (1936).
Below: Dave starred in the cult classic, "Reefer Madness" (1936).
Below: Dave (left) is about to give Jack Randall a serious headache in "Drifting Westward" (1939).
Below: Dave (left) co-starred with Mary Ainslee and Warren Hull in "The Spider Returns" (1941), a 15 chapter Columbia serial.
Below: Dave played the title role in the Columbia serial, "Captain Midnight" (1942).
Dave wrote, directed (as David Barclay), and starred in a popular and long running series of comedy shorts for Pete Smith in which Dave quickly became a pratfall fixture.
Below: left to right: Pete Smith, George Sidney, and Dave O'Brien.
The final film of the series, "The Fall Guy," is Pete Smith's tribute to Dave O'Brien. It is filled with clips of Dave's best work in the series. Smith called Dave, "the number one fall guy of the movies."
Sailing had long been a passion for Dave, and on board his beloved 60
foot cutter, The White Cloud, he succumbed to a heart attack on Nov. 8, 1969 at the age of 57.