A writer born in Los Angeles, California, on July 16, 1939, to George and Marguerite O'Brien, this child of Hollywood actors grew up among movie stars and other industry professionals such as John Ford and John Wayne. O'Brien earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, and he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship before beginning a teaching career. He joined the University of Tulsa faculty in 1977. As a scholar he received Woodrow Wilson and Guggenheim fellowships.
He produced several works of literary criticism, later published fiction, and became famous as a best-selling writer of true-crime treatments. His two loosely autobiographical novels about life in Golden Age Hollywood are A Way of Life Like Any Other (1978), winner of the PEN Hemingway award for a first novel, and Margaret in Hollywood (1991), a tribute to his mother. He based his novel The Silver Spooner (1981) on the infamous Mullendore murder near Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In 1985 he published Two of A Kind, the story of the Hillside Stranglers, followed by three other well-reviewed true-crime treatments: Murder in Little Egypt (1989), A Dark and Bloody Ground (1993), and Power to Hurt (1996). His final work, The Hidden Pope, published posthumously, is the true-life story of the friendship between Pope John Paul II and a Jewish friend from his childhood. O'Brien was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame in 1997. Retiring from the University of Tulsa after eighteen years' service, Darcy O'Brien died of a heart attack in Tulsa on March 2, 1998.
SEE ALSO: LITERATURE AND WRITERS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "O'Brien, Darcy," Directory of American Scholars (8th ed.; New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1982). Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 4 March 1998.
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