George O'Brien thrills audiences today with his signature roles in F. W. Murnau's Sunrise, Michael Curtiz' Noah's Ark, and John Ford's The Iron Horse, The Blue Eagle, Salute, The Seas Beneath, Fort Apache, and Cheyenne Autumn. He was one of America's most beloved film stars.
His on-screen heroics were more than matched by his real life bravery. For the first time, the story is told about how he survived the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake as a seven-year old to grow up a superb athlete, a decorated hero in World War One, and a stunt double for film idol Rudolph Valentino. O'Brien was one of hundreds working as an assistant cameraman, extra, and bit player when he was plucked from obscurity to head the cast of John Ford's epic, The Iron Horse. He became a star overnight.
O'Brien's rise to the top ranks of silent films reached sublime proportions when F. W. Murnau featured him in the classic romance, Sunrise. Warner Bros. plunged him into one of the first talking pictures when director Michael Curtiz converted his silent Noah's Ark epic into sound. Many men, women, and animals were injured during the climatic flood scenes, but O'Brien lived through the deluge to become a top star for twenty years. In the 1940s, O'Brien walked away from the pinnacle of stardom to answer the call to arms and re-enlist when America entered World War Two. He actively fought in several island invasions, and when the war ended, he returned only to find that a new generation of filmgoers had grown up never having seen him in a motion picture. He succeeded with a modest comeback, but left Hollywood a second time to assist with military conflicts in Korea. When he returned to civilian life again, he briefly pioneered in early television work and lived to enjoy retrospectives of his films during the 1970s and 1980s.
Discover his fascinating life in George O'Brien: A Man's Man in Hollywood. The richly researched work draws from hundreds of sources, including major archives and the George O'Brien Estate. Enjoy hundreds of photos and illustrations, many unseen for the past eighty years. The book reveals how he was received in his time and his role in the development of motion pictures from silent to sound. George appeared in more than a hundred credited and unaccredited films, and this book reveals them with a richly researched biography, an extensive Filmography, rare portraits, posters, and lobby cards that capture the glamour of Hollywood's Golden Era.
From the National Board of Review webpage:
BearManor Media has a simply incredible catalogue of pop culture books, incredible for digging far deeper into film, TV and radio history than any major publisher would ever dare. Take for example David W. Menefee’s biography George O’Brien: A Man’s Man in Hollywood, a thorough examination of the life and career of this great silent star, the leading man of Murnau’s epochal SUNRISE (1927). O’Brien had a special relationship with John Ford, and was his favorite pre-John Wayne leading man, starring in the Master’s first smash hit, THE IRON HORSE (1924), and THANK YOU (1925), THE FIGHTING HEART (1925), 3 BAD MEN (1926), THE BLUE EAGLE (1926), and the early talkies SALUTE (1929) and THE SEAS BENEATH (1931). O’Brien loved doing outdoors pictures and happily starred in dozens of B Westerns during the 30s before being cast by Ford in FORT APACHE (1948) and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1939). O’Brien would also appear in Ford’s final Western, CHEYENNE AUTUMN (1964). Menefee has done his research here, accessing the O’Brien estate, and loading the book with great graphics and rare photos. O’Brien was the son of the Chief of Police of San Francisco, and the author does a particularly excellent job in recreating the details of the 1906 earthquake and fire, which the O’Brien family survived.
"What a wonderful collection! . . . I really enjoyed reading about all the films I did not know: and some of the ones that are neglected, like Fig Leaves, which I saw with friends at the Museum of Modern Art during the 1960's . . . Many thanks for a very complete and sensitive book."
-Orin O'Brien, daughter of George O'Brien
"Thank you again for the book. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly and learned alot I did not know . . . you did a wonderful job in capturing the real George O'Brien, and I admired how you stayed away from the Hollywood gossip angle."
-Suzanne O'Brien, daughter-in-law of George O'Brien
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David W. Menefee was born in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, one of a long line of Menefees. His oldest known relative is William L. Menefee, born ca. 1796 in Knox County, Tennessee. In 1830, he and his wife Agnes (Sutherland) and their seven children moved to Jackson County, Texas. The settlement grew steadily, and for a time was known as Jarett Menefee's Supply Station. The settlement was eventually named “Bucksnort,” and according to local legend, the name was coined by an inebriated patron of the saloon. The Menefee family has been commemorated with a Texas Historical Marker #3332.
David’s writing career began in 1979 as a writer and marketing representative for the Dallas Times Herald during an era characterized by fierce competition with a rival, the Dallas Morning News. In 1991, the Dallas Morning News bought out their competitor, closed its doors, and within weeks, razed the building to the ground. Associates from the Dallas Morning News invited David to join their operation. They combined their circulation with subscribers obtained in their acquisition of the Dallas Times Herald. David took on leadership responsibilities with their locally produced version of Parade Magazine, for which he contributed many articles.
Like many of his contemporaries, David broke away from the newspaper industry in 2003 when failing economics forced many publications to downsize or close altogether. He struck out on his own as a freelance writer, immediately finding success as the accredited author of:
Sarah Bernhardt: In the Theater, Film and Sound Recordings (McFarland 2003)
The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era (Greenwood/Praeger 2004)
The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era (BearManor Media 2008)
Richard Barthelmess: A Life in Pictures (BearManor Media 2009)
George O’Brien: A Man’s Man in Hollywood (BearManor Media January 2010)
“Otay!” The Billy “Buckwheat” Thomas Story (BearManor Media March 2010)
Wally: The True Wallace Reid Story (BearManor Media December 2010)
The Remarkable Mr. Messing (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
Brothers of the Storm (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
MARGOT CRANSTON The Secret of the St. Lawrence Lighthouse (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
MARGOT CRANSTON The Mystery at Loon Lake (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
MARGOT CRANSTON The Quest for the Jade Dragons (Menefee Publishing, Inc. 2011)
In collaboration with Richard J. Maturi, he recently wrote the new screenplay for Triple Crown.
As ghost writer, David has written:
Slaves to Medicine by accredited author Dr. George Beauchamp (Brown Books 2006)
Lilian Hall-Davis: The English Rose, by accredited author Richard Davis (unpublished)
A Craving for Travel by accredited author Jim Strong (Brown Books 2009)
Texting Harry by accredited author Connie Podesta (Brown Books 2010)
As editor, David has supervised the creation of:
Sonnets by Robert Brown (Brown Books 2006)
Downtown Dallas, Romantic Past, Modern Renaissance by Mark Rice (Brown Books 2006)
James Best Autobiography (BearManor Media 2009)
Burlesque: A Living History (BearManor Media 2009)
When Game Shows Ruled Daytime TV by Norm Blumenthal (BearManor Media 2010)
Six Cult Films From The Sixties by Ib Melchior (BearManor Media 2010)
Now and Then, The Movies Get It Right by Neal Stannard (BearManor Media 2010)
Endless Summer: My Life With The Beach Boys by Jack Lloyd. (BearManor Media 2010)
Will the Real Me Please Stand Up by Christopher Knopf (BearManor Media 2010)
Tales from the Script by Gene Perrett (BearManor Media 2009)
Best in Hollywood: The Good. The Bad. The Beautiful by James Best (BearManor Media 2009)
Burlesque: A Living History by Jane Briggeman (BearManor Media 2009)
Johnny Olson: A Voice in Time by Randy West (BearManor Media 2009)
Radio Remembered: The Ultimate Guide to the Oral History of the Golden Age of Radio by Dave Siegel
(BearManor Media 2010)
Confessions of a Scream Queen by Matt Beckoff (BearManor Media 2010)
From Cyrano to Magoo: My Years with José Ferrer and Jim Backus by Jack Lloyd (BearManor Media
Little Girl in Big Pictures by Marilyn Knowlden (BearManor Media 2011)
David is currently working as a full-time book editor, and as the author of several new fiction and nonfiction works.
David lives in Dallas, Texas, USA.