Character actor Vince O’Brien, who played an earnest doctor in Woody Allen’s classic “Annie Hall” and as a pitchman for Shell Oil, died June 19 in Haworth, N.J., of heart failure. He was 91.
O’Brien’s physique and balding head made him perfect for several roles and he stood out as the hotel doctor in 1977’s “Annie Hall.” He also was the “Shell Answer Man” in its print ads and commercials.
After serving in the Army, O’Brien studied drama at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon U. and began a 60-year career in showbiz in the 1940s when he peformed in Connecticut’s Canton Show Shop.
On Broadway he essayed the role of the debauched businessman in “Promise, Promises.” He performed in regional stage in “Leave It to Jane,” “Advise and Consent,” and “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.”
Migrating to TV in 1950’s “Studio One” O’Brien had recurring arcs in “Dark Shadows,” “Armstrong Circle Theater,” sudser “Ryan’s Hope” plus “Law and Order” besides guest roles in “The Edge of Night,” “The Defender” and “The Cosby Mysteries.”
Film roles included “The Cross and the Switch Blade,” “Six Degrees of Separation” and “Quiz Show.”
Survivors include his wife, Kate, whom he married in college; a daughter; three sons including, Conal O’Brien, director of ABC soap “All My Children”; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.