Hugh O'Brian is an American actor, known for his starring role in the ABC television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. O'Brian was born Hugh Charles Krampe in Rochester, New York, the son of Hugh John Krampe, a career United States Marine Corps officer, and his wife Edith Krampe. He attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois and later Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri. He lettered in football, basketball, wrestling, and track. O'Brian dropped out of the University of Cincinnati after one semester to enlist in the Marine Corps during World War II. Only 17, he became the youngest Marine drill instructor.
After World War II, O'Brian moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA. He was discovered on the stage by Ida Lupino who signed him to a film she was directing Never Fear that led to a contract with Universal Pictures.
He was chosen to portray legendary lawman Wyatt Earp on ABC, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp which debuted in 1955. Alongside Gunsmoke, which debuted the same year, these shows spearheaded the "adult western" TV genre, where the emphasis is on character development as opposed to mere moral sermonizing. It soon became one of the top-rated shows on television. During its seven-year run, Wyatt Earp consistently placed in the top 10 in the United States. He also appeared regularly on other programs in the 1960s, including Jack Palance's ABC circus drama, The Greatest Show on Earth, and as a 'guest attorney' in an episode of Perry Mason when its star Raymond Burr was sidelined for a spell after minor emergency surgery. He was a guest celebrity panelist on the popular CBS prime-time programs Password and What's My Line? and even served as a mystery guest on three occasions.