“I don’t need no introduction, I just need deductions!” quipped actor Hugh O’Brian, western star of Wyatt Earp and movies including The Shootist and There’s No Business Like Show Business.
On the occasion of Chatworth's 123rd birthday, actor and philanthropist O’Brian entertained the Chatworth Historical Society's packed house Thursday at the Chatsworth History Museum.
Referring to the famous property where westerns were filmed, the program was billed as “A Tribute to Iverson Ranch.” Peppered with colorful anecdotes and jokes, O’Brian spilled the beans on his acting career on stage, in movies and television. Working with John “The Duke” Wayne and Marilyn Monroe, movie hunk O’Brian shared behind-the-scenes tales of work in the rocky peaks of Chatsworth’s Iverson Ranch, as well as Gene Autry’s ranch in the Santa Clarita area.
“I’ll be 86 in April,” he confessed, adding, “and I’m still full of kicks!” Best known for his title role in the 1950s television show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp O'Brian joked, “that’s 19 not 18!”
He didn’t start life with that handle. Born Hugh Krampe, he changed his name after a Marines camp boot camp in San Diego, where no one could pronounce Krampe. He became Hugh O’Brian: “I didn’t want to go through life being known as Huge Krap.”
Other guests at the event included actor Cary Languein of Chatsworth, who said, “I had the pleasure of being killed by you in The Gambler.”
O'Brian recalled how he spent nine days with Dr. Albert Schweitzer at his African clinic, where the famous humanitarian challenged him to “do something." O’Brian founded the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) organization, which has trained more than 650,000 high school sophomores to find their potential and expose them to leadership.
“Physical exercise is extremely important. But it is just as important to exercise the mind,” O'Brian said.“Get involved in an organization, a cause or a purpose. Use of the brain is going to add years to your life.”