40 Years Ago, Popular Philadelphia Newscaster Died in Accident
On this date, 40 years ago … on September 25, 1983 … one of the most popular … actually beloved Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey television newscaster died in a tragic skydiving accident.
According to an article written at the time on the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia website …
”On Sunday, September 25, 1983, at 12:30 pm, Jim O'Brien was killed in a skydiving accident.”
”Jim and a friend were jumping and both chutes opened normally.”
”They both started a maneuver called a "corkscrew" which allows them to get to the ground faster and thus they would be able to do more jumps in one day. The two got tangled. Jim decided to cut his ropes and open his reserve chute. However, he was too close to the ground and his chute did not have time to completely open. Jim's jumping buddy for that day was supposed to be Gary Papa, an inductee into our "Hall of Fame" but Gary canceled at the last minute. O'Brien once said after a jump, "That whole experience, which lasted 45 minutes, was as near to God as I ever hope to be."
O’Brien had a positively infectious on-air personality. He was bigger than life and so incredibly popular throughout the Delaware Valley.
O’Brien had two great careers as an American newscaster. He was first a sportscaster and then became an incredibly popular weatherman on WPVI, channel 6 action news in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jim O’Brien was one of my favorite on-air personalities and I did not wavy today to end without remembering to remember that it’s been exactly 40 years ago today that he tragically died.
I still remember the feeling of disbelief that overcame me when I heard the news of his passing.
According to his Wikipedia page, Jim O’Brien “had two favorite hobbies … motorcycle riding and skydiving.
On this date in 1983, Jim O’Brien died doing what he really loved.
The featured photo above is that of the legendary Jim Gardner, who was the main news anchor for WPVI Channel 6 Action News in 1983.
“Main Anchor, Jim Gardner (a Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Famer and former Person of the Year) spoke about his feelings that day. It was repeated on the 11 pm news,” according to their website coverage.
DID YOU KNOW: That Jim O’Brien is the real life Father of the actress, Peri Gilpin who played “Roz Doyle” on the iconic “Frasier” television series, which ran from 1993 to 2004.
Jim O’Brien’s birth name was James Franklin Oldham.
SOURCES: Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia & Wikipedia.
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