From the Miami Herald: Posted on Wednesday, 03.21.12
Jack O’Brien, local TV host for three decades, dies
Jack O'Brien was a familar face on local television for three decades
BY CARLI TEPROFF
As a local television weatherman and pitchman in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, there was little Jack O’Brien didn’t do to entertain his viewers. On a clear day, the anchor, donning scuba gear, came out of a pool, grabbed a microphone and shared his sunny prediction. As the host of a children’s show for then-WLBW-TV called Jumpin’ Jack’s Four O’ Clock Club, he dressed as an old granny, stuck on a mustache to play the role of an Italian chef and interviewed the spider that frightened Miss Muffet.
As a pitchman for Municipal Auto Sales, he was known as the fast talker who would slap the cars so the driver knew to move on.
O’Brien, whose face graced local television for nearly three decades, died Monday in Nashville of heart failure. He was 84.
“He was a one-man band,” said Chuck Stewart, who worked with O’Brien at WLBW. “He did everything himself. He wrote scripts, he edited film and he virtually was his own producer.”
O’Brien was born in Worcester, Mass. on Feb. 20, 1928. He loved basketball and football and was able to earn a sports scholarship to a local junior college.
In 1950, he joined the U. S. Air Force and served in Greenland. It was while he was in the Air Force that he broke into broadcasting, hosting a jazz record show on the Armed Forces Radio Network. He also pursued his passion of jazz music by starting a band called the Ice Caps in which he played the drums.
After his discharge, O’Brien studied film at the University of Miami and served as a classical music disc jockey on Miami’s WTHS-FM.
It was Valentine’s Day 1958 that he met the love of his life, Deanna Briggs O’Brien.
He was doing a modeling job on Miami Beach. After the photo shoot, he asked the slender girl where her boyfriend was taking her. Deanna told him her boyfriend was a lawyer in Tallahassee.
“And I said those famous words that will echo along the sand dunes of Miami Beach forever,’’ O’Brien later wrote. “ ‘If you were my girl I’d never leave you alone on Valentines Day!’ ” That evening he took Deanna to the Miami Beach Kennel Club where he was an announcer.
They dated for a year before eloping to Georgia. At the time, her parents didn’t approve of their marriage because she was 20 and he was 31. But eventually they acquiesced. “I think they realized there was no way they were going to get me away from that man,” she said.
The couple would have celebrated their 53rd anniversary March 31.
In the meantime, O’Brien was making himself known on local television. He was hired to sell cars for Municipal Auto Sales. At that time the car company would buy airtime and hire O’Brien to sell the cars.
He then got hired by Channel 10 and quickly found himself hosting the children’s program “Jumpin’ Jack’s Four O’Clock Club,” which featured comedy, cartoons, puppets and more. The show, which ran through the 1960s, was very popular.
“He just had a sense of humor you were immediately drawn to,” Stewart said, adding he couldn’t count how many times Jack O’Brien got hit in the face with a foam pie.
At home, O’Brien was just as much of a showman, said his three children Dana O’Brien Brown, Stephen O’Brien and Michael O’Brien. “He was animated, he was fun, he was always putting on the show,” said Brown, who remembers her dad’s days as a sportscaster — even angering former Miami Dolphins fullback Larry Csonka to the point that Csonka chased him down the street.
O’Brien stayed at Channel 10 through the mid-’70s when he and his family moved to Louisiana, where he started an advertising company. In the mid-’80s, they moved to New Orleans, a city he loved. O’Brien started a company where he sold tourist videos.
From there, the couple moved to Nashville, where he was semi-retired and worked at a tennis center.
In addition to his wife and children, O’Brien is survived by sister Marjorie Forsberg. Memorial services for O’Brien will be Friday in Nashville and Sunday in New Orleans.
At the first, a recording of Michael O’Brien performing a song that he and his dad wrote. “He loved me to sing with my big voice,” he wrote in an e-mail. “And that has never changed.’
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/20/2706712/jack-obrien-local-tv-host-for.html#storylink=cpy
From The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) from March 21 to March 22, 2012
John Stephen "Jack" O'Brien
O'BRIEN John Stephen "Jack" O'Brien, age 84, passed away peacefully March 19, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. An Air Force veteran and graduate of University of Miami Florida, Jack was a popular television personality in Miami during the 1950's and 60's. Jack was one of the pioneers of local children's television, founded the Jumpin Jack's Four O'clock Club and served in numerous capacities from weather man to sportscaster. In the 1970's the O'Brien family moved to Louisiana where he was in advertising in Lafayette and New Orleans.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Deanna Briggs of Nashville, three children, Stephen and wife Cynthia O'Brien of New Orleans, Dana O'Brien Brown and husband Jay, of Miami, and Michael and Heidi O'Brien of Nashville, and eleven grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will be held at The Chapel, 2415 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN at 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 23 2012. The family will attend Mass (Not a Funeral Mass) at 11am on Sunday, March 25th at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, LA followed by a Jazz Funeral at Jackson Square. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Alive Hospice, Nashville.
Published in The Times-Picayune from March 21 to March 22, 2012
Mr. O'Brien's Guestbook is located at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/nola/guestbook.aspx?n=john-obrien&pid=156615557&cid=full