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Hugh O’Brian, TV’s ‘Wyatt Earp,’ Dies at 91

Actor Was Also Active in Philanthropy

Actor Hugh O’Brian, who is remembered for his six season stint on 1955-61 ABC western “The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp,” died on Monday. He was 91.

Born Hugh Charles Krampe on April 19, 1925 in Rochester, New York, O’Brian was discovered by actress and director Ida Lupino, who signed him to film “Never Fear” in 1949, which led O’Brian to a contract with Universal Pictures. He made multiple appearances on NBC drama anthology “The Loretta Young Show” in the mid-1950s prior to “Wyatt Earp,” and appeared as a guest star on numerous series after it including “The Virginian,” “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour,” “Kraft Mystery Theater” and “The Red Skelton Hour.” His second regularly scheduled series was NBC action/adventure “Search” in the 1972-73 season.

O’Brian reprised is role as Wyatt Earp in two 1989 episodes of CBS western “Paradise.” He also appeared as Earp in the 1991 Kenny Rogers TV miniseries “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw”. And he starred in “Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone,” a 1994 TV movie that included flashbacks to scenes from his old series. His film roles included “Come Fly With Me,” “In Harm’s Way” and “Ten Little Indians.” Late in his career, O’Brian made frequent guest appearances in television series and variety shows and toured in the national companies of “Cactus Flower,” ”1776″ and “Guys and Dolls.”

He also made his mark in philanthropy as founder of the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership organization. The organization sponsors 10,000 high school sophomores annually through leadership programs in all 50 states and 20 countries. The concept for the program was inspired by the nine days O’Brian spent visiting with humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa in 1958.

He is survived by his wife, the former Virginia Barber, whom he married in 2006 at the age of 81.