The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

Close Encounters of the Treasured Kind #1 Edmond O'Brien

Edmond O'Brien

Some time in the middle '70s I was a process server serving papers throughout the Los Angeles area. I had already served thousands of legal documents in the previous 3 to 4 years and didn't think twice about the next stop in Brentwood. The papers I had to serve were on an Edmond O'Brien but it could have been, and was, any Edmond O'Brien as far as I was concerned. Typically before knocking on someone's door I'd glance through the papers to see what type of documents I was serving. These were divorce papers so I was going to try to be polite and sensitive to any possible negative reaction.  

At this time, being in my early twenties, I was already an avid film buff for almost a decade. I was seeing everything I could lay my eyes on. In 1969 my mother had to take me to see The Wild Bunch because I was 14 and the movie was rated R. I had already seen D.O.A. on TV numerous times. I was also incredibly shy (although the job by that time was starting to help with that). It didn't help at all, however, when the door answered and there stood the star of D.O.A. and the actor who I idolised because of all of those characters seen on television in terrific films like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Seven Days In May, Julius Caesar, and White Heat to name but a few. I was stunned thinking "that Edmond O'Brien!". The instant fear caused my head to immediately drop and I saw that his feet in sandals were blue. I said softly "Mr. O'Brien I have some legal papers for you" and handed them over. He replied in that rich booming voice of his saying somewhat inquisitively: "I read somewhere that these things can be contested." I humbly replied: "That's something you should talk over with your attorney sir." Later, I thought I made a fairly okay statement considering that divorce itself in California by then could not be challenged. And that was it. 


edmond o'brien portrait.jpg

As much as he became one with the character he portrayed, his passion for the craft was always shining through. Almost every time I see this great actor in anything since then, I think of that time and beat myself up for not telling him how much I loved his work. I think he would have appreciated that. Even though I could see that he was in poor health, I feel fortunate in having personally witnessed his considerate demeanour to even the bearer of bad news. Edmond O'Brien (September 10, 1915 – May 9, 1985) R.I.P.