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A longtime character actor/stuntman/leading man/director, Dave O'Brien (born David Barclay) was born in Big Springs, Texas, and entered movies in the early '30s as a stuntman and occasional character actor -- he is probably best remembered by college students of the late '60s and early '70s for his portrayal of the crazed marijuana smoker in the exploitation film Reefer Madness. During the late '30s and early '40s, O'Brien also played the title role in the serial Captain Midnight, and was the responsible adult in the East Side Kids series, but it was as the lead in MGM's Pete Smith Specialty comedy shorts -- which O'Brien also directed, under his real name David Barclay -- that he was best known to '40s moviegoers. The Pete Smith shorts, which were basically comedic looks at human foibles, took full advantage of O'Brien's background in stunt work, and hold up extremely well today. O'Brien still played occasional lead roles, especially in B-pictures such as The Man Who Walks Alone (1946), an unusual comedy with serious overtones about a veteran returning home from World War II, but by the early '50s had moved into supporting parts, such as that of the stage manager in Kiss Me Kate (1953), directed by his fellow Pete Smith alumnus George Sidney. O'Brien later became a writer for Red Skelton on television.

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