|(Courtesy of Ken Jones)
Bobby Copeland provides some additional info and trivia on Dave O'Brien, James Newill, and movie bad guy Jack Ingram ... and what would ultimately become the Jack Ingram movie location ranch:
Prior to Jack Ingram owning the land, it was purchased by two other movie cowboys as a scheme to avoid being drafted by the Army during World War II. The land was also once part of the Charlie Chaplin estate. Apparently, Jim Newill and Dave O'Brien heard about some provision by the government that provided deferment to those owning ranches and raising animals. They decided to buy the land and raise goats. They did not have the property long, until they were called for physicals --- both were classified 4-F. They immediately started looking for a buyer, and sold the ranch to Jack Ingram (in 1944), who had worked with Newill and O'Brien in some of their Texas Rangers features at PRC. Ingram, in an economy move, bought an old bulldozer and enlisted the help of several other movie badman friends to clear the site.
|(From Old Corral image collection)
In the above lobby card from BAD MEN OF THUNDER GAP (PRC, 1943), Dave O'Brien has his six-gun on Guy Wilkerson, the tall drink-of-water who portrayed 'Panhandle Perkins' in the Texas Rangers series. This was the second PRC Texas Rangers film. Note the "Dave (Tex) O'Brien" top billing.
When Tex Ritter replaced Jim Newill for the last eight films in the series, there were two changes - Ritter got top billing and O'Brien dropped down to second billing ... and he became plain ol' Dave O'Brien (dropping the 'Tex' as his middle name). See below.
(From Old Corral image collection)
THE WHISPERING SKULL (PRC, 1944) had a mystery twist and was one of the better PRC Texas Rangers films.
In Search of David Fronabarger, Dave O'Brien, 'Tex' O'Brien, David Barclay, et al
The Family Search website (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, Newspaper Archives (subscription), various newspaper websites, California Death Index, and the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) have information on Dave O'Brien. Dave's parents were Mike and Mary Edith (Nee Earnest) Fronabarger of Big Spring, Howard County, Texas.
- 1910 census (prior to Dave's birth) - 25 year old Mike Fronabarger (born Tennessee), 22 year old wife Edith M. (born Texas), and newborn daughter Florence A. (born Texas) are living in Justice Precinct 4, Howard County, Texas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M2SS-MDF
Ancestry had the 1910 census takers worksheet: Mike Fronabarger's occupation is "boilermaker-railroad shop" and new daughter Florence A. is 6/12 in age (half year old). The addresses of all people on this worksheet is "Big Spring and C???? Road". Footnote: Big Spring, Texas is the County Seat of Howard County, Texas.
- Texas birth index for 1912 - I have not found a specific birth record for Dave O'Brien/Fronabarger, nor have I been able to confirm his middle name being "Poole". Ancestry does have a (simple) listing of Texas births, but the sex and birth names of the children are not included. There is a record for: "Fronabarger, Mike, Inf. of; born 5-31-1912 in Howard County". Would surmise that the "Inf. of" indicates "Infant of".
- 1918 World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 - Mike Fronabarger is night foreman for the T&P Ry. Co. in Baird, Callahan County, Texas. He and wife Mary E. Fronabarger live in Baird, Texas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25082-123860-3?cc=1968530&wc=M9SG-QKS:1279465872
- 1919 divorce of Mike Fronabarger from Mary Edith Earnest Fronabarger. Ancestry.com allows subscribers/family members to build their own family trees. On one or more of these family trees, there is a notation of this divorce, but no actual divorce record is available.
- 1920 census and mother Edith has re-married - 30 year old Vernon Smith (born Oklahoma), 33 year old wife Edith (born Texas), 10 year old stepdaughter Frane [sic] (born Texas), 8 year old stepson David (born Texas), and 6 year old stepson Dixie (born Texas) are renting at 3526 New Orleans Street, El Paso, Texas. Vernon's occupation is "garment checker???" and Edith is a "book keeper - laundry". Dixie is incorrectly listed as a stepson. Dixie is a stepdaughter and she attended father Mike Fronabarger's 1946 funeral. Family Search has the last name of the three children incorrectly spelled as Franabarger: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MC97-DHC
- 1928 Abilene, Texas City Directory is available on ancestry, and Dave is working as a helper at his father's boiler shop. The name and address listing reads:
"Fronabarger David P hlpr Abilene Boiler Wks h860 Mulberry"
Footnote: the City Directory has him with a middle initial of P; this is the only record that I found which lists a middle name or initial for Dave.
- 1930 census: 44 year old Mike Fronebarger [sic] (born Tennessee) is divorced, occupation "boiler maker-boiler shop", and is a roomer living in the home of N. W. Bowyer on Butternut Street in Abilene, Texas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/HKFH-VZM
- July, 1936 edition of the Standard Casting Directory: Dave is David Barclay in this Hollywood publication.
- 1938 Los Angeles Voter Registration is available on ancestry: David and Dorothy Fronabarger are living at 8230 Mannix Drive in Los Angeles. His occupation is "actor" and Dorothy is listed as a "housewife". Dorothy is actress Dorothy Short.
- 1940 census: living in Los Angeles are 27 year old David Barclay (born Texas) and 25 year old wife Dorothy (born New Jersey; this is actress Dorothy Short). They are renting at 8230 Mannix in Los Angeles. He completed nine years of schooling, occupation is "Actor - Motion Pictures" and in 1939, he worked 20 weeks and earned $2800.00. Dorothy reports that she completed four years of high school. Her occupation is "Actress - Motion Pictures" and in 1939, she worked 10 weeks and earned $800.00: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9C2-MNS
- 1940 census takers worksheet for Dave's father, Mike Fronabarger: he's 54 years old, married, occupation "welder-repair shop", and is a lodger (without his wife) in a hotel in Austin, Texas: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-27821-17462-26?cc=2000219&wc=M9QN-NYP:n783848834
- 1942 Los Angeles Voter Registration is available on ancestry: Dave is not present in the 1942 voter registration. His wife Dorothy Fronabarger is registered, occupation housewife, and still residing at 8230 Mannix Drive in Los Angeles. Dorothy is actress Dorothy Short.
- June 9, 1942 birth of Patricia Barclay, the first child of Dave and Dorothy Short: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VLJ9-X3G
- 1944 Los Angeles Voter Registration is available on ancestry: David and Dorothy Barclay are living at 3340 Durand Drive in Los Angeles. His occupation is "actor" and Dorothy is listed as a "housewife".
- May 3, 1945 birth of Pamela Barclay, the second child of Dave and Dorothy Short: https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V2WW-32N
- The Los Angeles Times newspaper has a July 11, 1953 article on Dorothy Short's divorce filing vs. hubby Dave O'Brien. In summary: "Wife Says Actor Liked Boat Better Than Her".
- An August, 1954 syndicated newspaper article had info on O'Brien's pending marriage to 19 year old Nancy Lee Lister, the daughter of the Santa Monica, California harbormaster.
- The Los Angeles Times newspaper had funeral notices on Dorothy Short and Dave O'Brien, and both were listed under the Barclay name:
In the June 5, 1963 newspaper: "BARCLAY, Dorothy Short ... Interment Inglewood Memorial Park"
In the November 11, 1969 newspaper: "BARCLAY (O'BRIEN), David ... Memorial Service ... November 11"
- California Death Index has dual records for David O'Brien and David Barclay. He was born 5/31/1912 (no birth state identified), Mother's maiden name of Earnest, and he passed away on 11/8/1969:
- Social Security Death Index (SSDI) has a record for David Barclay, born May 31, 1912. But it has an incorrect death date of August, 1972: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JBQB-4MW
Jim Tipton's Find A Grave website notes that Dave O'Brien was cremated and ashes scattered: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114727411
Dorothy Short Barclay is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114727309
Links on Dave O'Brien and Dorothy Short
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on:
Dave O'Brien: http://imdb.com/name/nm0639495/
O'Brien's wife, actress Dorothy Short (1914 or 1915 - 1963): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0795044/
Dave and Dorothy worked together in about thirty films: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&roles=nm0639495,nm0795044&sort=release_date_us
The 79 Pete Smith shorts in which O'Brien directed ... or wrote ... or appeared in ... or any combination thereof: http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&roles=nm0809570,nm0639495&sort=release_date_us
If you have a high speed cable or DSL connection, you can download or stream REEFER MADNESS, the unsold MEET THE O'BRIEN'S TV pilot, and several other O'Brien movies from the Internet Archive website:
REEFER MADNESS: http://www.archive.org/movies/details-db.php?collection=feature_films&collectionid=reefer_madness1938
Unsold MEET THE O'BRIEN'S TV pilot from 1954: http://www.archive.org/details/Meet_The_OBriens
Other O'Brien films: http://archive.org/search.php?query=%22dave%20o%27brien%22%20AND%20collection%3Amoviesandfilms
Some of O'Brien's films with Bela Lugosi, the East Side Kids, the Texas Rangers, more are available on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/results?filters=long&search_query=%22dave+o%27brien%22&lclk=long
Images Journal has a article on 1930s 'exploitation flicks' of which REEFER MADNESS is a prominent film: http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue08/reviews/forbiddenfruit/default-nf.htm
Neil Summers has a writeup on Dave O'Brien at Boyd Magers' Western Clippings website: http://www.westernclippings.com/stuntmen/daveobrien_stuntmen.shtml
O'Brien has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame which was awarded in 1960: http://projects.latimes.com/hollywood/star-walk/dave-obrien/ and http://www.walkoffame.com/dave-obrien
TV history books include a list of the Emmy Award winners by year. The following website has info on the "Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy" Emmy given to Sherwood Schwartz, Dave O'Brien, Al Schwartz, Martin Ragaway and Red Skelton for the RED SKELTON SHOW in 1961: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0151518.html
Various Dave O'Brien scripts for the RED SKELTON TV show are archived at the Performing Arts Special Collections, UCLA Library, Los Angeles: