Joan O'Brien

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Joan O'Brien
Joan O'Brien in It Happened at the World's Fair.jpg
BornJoan Marie O'Brien
(1936-02-14) February 14, 1936 (age 78)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
OccupationActor, Singer
Years active1958–1965
Spouse(s)Billy Strange (1954–1956) (divorced) 1 child
John F. Meyers (1957–1960) (divorced) 1 child
Harvey Allen Godorov (1963–1964) (divorced)
Dino Kotopoulis (1966–1967) (divorced)
Lt. Col. Malcolm Bernard Campbell (1979–2004) (his death)
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Joan O'Brien
Joan O'Brien in It Happened at the World's Fair.jpg
BornJoan Marie O'Brien
(1936-02-14) February 14, 1936 (age 78)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
OccupationActor, Singer
Years active1958–1965
Spouse(s)Billy Strange (1954–1956) (divorced) 1 child
John F. Meyers (1957–1960) (divorced) 1 child
Harvey Allen Godorov (1963–1964) (divorced)
Dino Kotopoulis (1966–1967) (divorced)
Lt. Col. Malcolm Bernard Campbell (1979–2004) (his death)

Joan O'Brien (born February 14, 1936) is an American actress and singer. She made a name for herself acting in television shows in the 1950s and 1960s, and as a film co-star with Cary Grant, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Jerry Lewis.

Early life[edit]

Joan Marie O'Brien was born to David and Rita O'Brien on Valentine's Day 1936, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The family moved to California when O'Brien was a child, and enrolled O'Brien in dance classes when she was eight years old. She graduated from Chaffey Union High School in Ontario, California.[1]


O'Brien's singing abilities came to the attention of entertainer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Cliffie Stone, who hired her as a regular performer on his television show Hometown Jamboree before her high school graduation. In 1954, she became a regular on The Bob Crosby Show, and stayed until shortly before the show's cancellation in 1958.[1] She co-starred with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in the 1959 movie Operation Petticoat.[2]

Lawrence Welk hired O'Brien as a one-week replacement for his champagne lady Alice Lon in July 1959. O'Brien had come to Welk's attention years earlier when she was a singer on Bob Crosby's show, but Welk decided not to hire her at that time because she was still a teenager.[3]

O'Brien was cast as Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson in John Wayne's 1960 epic The Alamo.[4][5] That same year, O'Brien performed as a soloist for composer Buddy Bregman at the Moulin Rouge night club in Los Angeles.[6] In 1961, O'Brien again co-starred with John Wayne, as his love interest in The Comancheros.[7]

Actresses Sheree North, Sabrina and Sue Carson joined O'Brien in a tour of Playgirls in 1961, appearing at the Riverside Hotel in Reno, Nevada.[8]

O'Brien played Elvis Presley's girlfriend in the 1963 vehicle It Happened at the World's Fair.[9]

Her most frequent acting performances were in television during the 1960s. She made two guest appearances on Perry Mason: in 1960 she played Betty Roberts in "The Case of the Singing Skirt," and in 1965 she played Jill Fenwick in "The Case of the Lover's Gamble." In 1964, O'Brien guest starred in an episode of The Man from UNCLE. Series star Robert Vaughn, subsequently cast her as Ophelia in Hamlet at the Pasadena Playhouse.[10]

After her acting career ended, O'Brien sang with the Harry James band in 1968.[11]


1949Hometown JamboreeSelfas Joanie O'Brien
1954Crosby Show, The BobThe Bob Crosby ShowSelfRegular performer
1955Easter Seal Teleparade of Stars, TheThe Easter Seal Teleparade of StarsSelfas Joanie O'Brien, singer
1957Shower of StarsSelfas Joanie O'Brien
1958M SquadMarla RossThe Take Over
1959RiverboatSonja TorginThe Fight Back
1959MarkhamJulia ConradWe Are All Suspect
1959Man Without a GunEllen DuncanFace of the Moon
1959Bat MastersonDolores ClarkOne Bullet from Broken Bow
1959Bat MastersonDora MillerShakedown at St. Joe
1960Bat MastersonEileen McDermottHigh Card Loses
1960Wagon TrainCandy O'HaraThe Candy O'Hara Story
1960CheyenneSelma DawsonIncident at Dawson Flats
1960Wagon TrainVictoriaThe Luke Grant Story
1960Westerner, TheThe WesternerLibbyThe Courting of Libby
1960Islanders, TheThe IslandersAnn BrennerThe Terrified Blonde
1960Lock-UpClaudia ScottFlying High
1960Deputy, TheThe DeputyEmily PriceMeet Sergeant Tasker
1960The Chevy Mystery ShowSusan HudsonEnough Rope
1960BroncoJudith CastleLa Rubia
1960Alaskans, TheThe AlaskansFay CampbellKangaroo Court
1960Perry MasonBetty RobertsThe Case of the Singing Skirt
1960Bachelor FatherJanice McCleeryKelly, the Matchmaker
1960Bachelor FatherJanice McCleeryDear Bentley
1961Bachelor FatherJanice McCleeryKelly's Graduation
1961Surfside 6Linda FarisJonathan Wembley Is Missing
1961Roaring 20's, TheThe Roaring 20'sMona FentonNo Exit
1961Whispering SmithMarilyn ManningThe Idol
1961Adventures in ParadiseLila SimmonsWild Mangoes
1961Bringing Up BuddyRuth GraysonThe Singer
1961G.E. TrueMeryleTippy-Top
1962RawhideMelinda StimsonThe Pitchwagon
1962Bus StopJulieThe Ordeal of Kevin Brooke
1962Follow the SunNita ParkerAnnie Beeler's Place
1962Tall Man, TheThe Tall ManThe Impatient Brides
1962OutlawsLaurieA Bit of Glory
1963Dick Van Dyke Show, TheThe Dick Van Dyke ShowJane LeightonThe Foul Weather Girl
1964Man from U.N.C.L.E., TheThe Man from U.N.C.L.E.Chris BrinelThe Green Opal Affair
1964Virginian, TheThe VirginianJoanThe Dark Challenge
1964Lieutenant, TheThe LieutenantRuthLament for a Dead Goldbrick
1965Perry MasonJill FenwickThe Case of the Lover's Gamble


1958Handle with CareMary Judson
1959Operation PetticoatLt. Dolores Crandall RN
1960Alamo, TheThe AlamoSusanna Dickinson
1961Comancheros, TheThe ComancherosMelinda Marshall
1962SamarCecile Salazar
1962Six Black HorsesKelly
1962It's Only MoneyWanda Paxton
1963It Happened at the World's FairDiane Warren
1963We Joined the NavyLt. Carol Blair
1964Get Yourself a College GirlMarge Endicott


  1. ^ a b Lisanti, Tom (2001). Fantasy Femmes of 60's Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland & Company. pp. 27–39. ISBN 978-0-7864-0868-9. 
  2. ^ LIFE: 14. 21 December 1959. 
  3. ^ "Joan O'Brien Hired by Welk". The Milwaukee Journal. 19 July 1959. 
  4. ^ "Wayne's Alamo in Town on Nov 10". The Montreal Gazette. 29 October 1960. p. 42. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "On the Set of The Alamo". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Newcomer Joan O'Brien Wants Twin Success – Acting, Singing". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 30 October 1960. p. 39. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Paramount to Open The Comancheros Friday". Youngstown Vindicator. 10 December 1961. p. 24. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Hopper, Hedda (20 April 1961). The News and Courier. p. 3. 
  9. ^ "On the Esquire Screen". The Southeast Missourian. 26 April 1963. p. 7. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Vaughn, Robert (2008). A Fortunate Life. Thomas Dunne Books. pp. 122–128. ISBN 978-0-312-37112-8. 
  11. ^ "Joan O'Brien to Sing with the James Band". St. Joseph Press-News. 12 June 1968. p. 12. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 

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