About Hugh O’Brian

Motion picture and television star Hugh O’Brian has mastered his craft across the entire spectrum of show business. But with all his success he has never lost sight of his civic and philanthropic responsibilities. O’Brian has chosen to use his popularity to motivate others for a worthy cause, and to reinvest his good fortune by working tirelessly to develop projects to benefit young people. He is the founder of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY), organized in 1958. HOBY’s vision is to motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership.

The Early Years

Becoming a star was not always O’Brian’s ambition; he almost became a lawyer. Born April 19, 1925 in Rochester, New York (as Hugh C. Krampe), O’Brian attended school at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois, and Kemper Military School in Booneville, Missouri. In high school, his sports activities were divided among football, basketball, wrestling and track, with O’Brian winning letters in all four sports. After a semester at the University of Cincinnati with studies charted toward a law career, O’ Brian enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17. He became the youngest drill instructor in the Corps’ history, and during his four year service won a coveted Fleet appointment to The Naval Academy. After passing the entrance exams, he declined the appointment, intending to enroll at Yale to study law.

After receiving honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, O’Brian went to Los Angeles where he planned to earn money for his Yale tuition. There he met Hollywood movie stars Ruth Roman and Linda Christian, who introduced him to a little theater group. When a leading man became ill, O’ Brian substituted. Originally, he felt the acting experience might be helpful in his legal career; however, he got such good reviews in Somerset Maugham’s play “Home and Beauty” that he decided to enroll at UCLA and continue his theater appearances as an avocation while continuing his quest for a college education. About a year later, Ida Lupino saw one of his performances and signed him to play his first starring role in the film “Young Lovers,” which Lupino directed. This bought him a contract with Universal Studios. During his first year under contract, he enrolled at Los Angeles City College and managed to amass 17 college credits in addition to making five pictures at Universal.

The Freedom to Choose

I do NOT believe we are all born equal — CREATED in the eyes of God, YES — but physical and emotional differences, parental guidance, varying environments, being in the right place at the right time, all play a role in enhancing or limiting an individual’s development.  But I DO believe every man and woman, if given the opportunity and encouragement to recognize his or her own potential, regardless of backgroun, has theFreedom to Choose in our world.  Will an individual be a taker or a giver in lift?  Will that person be satisfied merely to exist, or seek a meaningful purpose.  Will he or she dare to dream the impossible dream?

I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose:  to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love.

– Hugh O’Brian / Founder