He was often teamed with his pal, James Cagney. As mentioned yesterday, he played cops and priests with panache. And, he was a much better actor than perhaps even he realized.
How much do you know about Pat O’Brien. As one of the longest serving actors from Hollywood’s classic period, he is worth getting to know — or know better. With yesterday’s Monday Quiz, we hope to spread the word.
On to our Quiz answers. To refresh yourselves on the questions, just scroll down to the blog published below. Here we go:
1) Answer: b) False. O’Brien was born in Milwaukee on Nov. 11, 1899. (He lived to 1983.)
2) Answer: d) Barry Fitzgerald, who as William Shields really was born in Dublin in 1888.
3) Answer: d) Angels With Dirty Faces, which O’Brien made in 1938 with Cagney (see photo above).
4) Answer: b) False. O’Brien was a churchgoing Catholic, and was married only once — from 1931 to his death to actress Eloise Taylor.
5) Answer: c) Nine. Besides Angels With Dirty Faces, O’Brien and Cagney appeared in: Here Comes the Navy (1934), Devil Dogs of the Air (1935), The Irish In Us (1935), Ceiling Zero (1936), Boy Meets Girl (1938), The Fighting 69th (1940), Torrid Zone (1940) and Ragtime (1981).
6) Answer: c) Jack Benny. While in the Navy during World War I, O’Brien encountered Benny as a violinist trying to entertain the troops. The actor urged Benny to “put down the damn fiddle and talk to ’em.” The former Benjamin Kubelsky — who had studied violin since an early age — followed O’Brien’s advice, and got big laughs. The rest is history.
7) Answer: b) False. O’Brien could turn an Irish brogue on and off at will. Offscreen, it was off.
8) Answer: c) 1931’s The Front Page, in which O’Brien played Hildy Johnson. He was terrific, and his movie career was launched.
9) Answer: a) Spencer Tracy, who also came from Milwaukee and was six months younger than O’Brien. The two attended the same schools and served in the Navy together.
10) Answer: c) Cagney was indeed shy in social situations. O’Brien, who was the opposite, regarded Cagney as a good and kindly man and a thinking man. Added O’Brien: (Cagney had) a deep strain of altruism running under his words and deeds. In any case, Cagney tended to be as retiring in social settings as O’Brien was expansive.