Actor Edmond O’Brien was born Redmond O’Brien—really? They couldn’t let him keep the R?—in New York City one hundred years ago today.
O’Brien played a wide range of roles on Broadway, on radio and television, and in the movies, but he’s perhaps best remembered for his work in film noir, especially his role in one of the classics of that genre, D.O.A. (1950). In that picture, O’Brien plays Frank Bigelow, a man who, having learned he is not so slowly dying after being poisoned, sets out to track down his murderer.
Some years ago, we made one of our periodic pilgrimages to Los Angeles, where we always like to track down film locations for our favorite pictures. On this trip, one of our stops was at the Bradbury Building, a classic structure in downtown L.A. that has appeared in countless motion pictures and television programs.
In a key scene in D.O.A., Frank Bigelow is in the Bradbury Building after hours, and he takes a rather extravagant spill there in the darkened lobby. It was mid-day when we visited the Bradbury, but we didn’t let that stop us. We took a spill of our own as a tribute to a great movie and a terrific actor, and didn’t let the skunk eye cast our way by the security guards in the lobby bother us.
Happy birthday, Mr. O’Brien. We’ll raise a toast to you today—a gimlet, with perhaps just a drop of “luminous toxin” in it for that extra kick.