Day 34, No. 34. Richard O-Brien

Richard O'BrienHAIRCUT 100: Day 34, No. 34. Richard O’Brien: Actor, writer, lyricist, broadcaster, horror host, and Phineas and Ferb’s dad. Born Richard Smith in Cheltenham (O’Brien is his mother’s maiden name), O’Brien’s family emigrated to New Zealand when he was a child. There he learned to ride, a skill that would land him his first film job when he returned to the UK, as a stuntman in Carry On Cowboy in 1964. O’Brien studied The Method in the early-70s, meeting the director Jim Sharman, who cast him in Jesus Christ Superstar and went on to help O’Brien develop his draft of a gothic musical comedy with the working title ‘They Came from Denton High.’ The Rocky Horror Show opened at the Royal Court ‘Theatre Upstairs’ on June 16, 1973, with O’Brien playing Riff Raff, assistant to Tim Curry’s demented Dr. Frank N. Furter. The rest is history, and The Rocky Horror Show has been playing somewhere in the world ever since. To those that grew up in the 90s, O’Brien is probably equally famous as ‘Reckless Rick,’ the sardonic, harmonica-playing presenter of Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze, while I still recall, with great fondness, watching him present Mystery Train on the BBC in the early-90s, comprising a surreal animation, a B-movie and an episode of Kolchak: The Nightstalker. A patron of the Five Stars Scanner Appeal, O’Brien hosted ‘Transfandango’ from 2001 – 2006, an annual fundraising gala gathering ‘Dearhearts and Trans ’n’ Gentle People’ to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. (O’Brien has in the past described himself as transgender, and sometimes ‘third sex,’ a state in which one is neither man or woman, a subject he explored in The Rocky Horror Show). This has now been superseded by ‘Richard O’Brien’s Halloween Party,’ a roving ‘Halloween hoe-down to which everyone is invited’ that raises money for various regional and national charities. ‘I’m one of those people who never really joined the grown-ups.’

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