Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Foundation

Back in 1958, Hugh O'Brian, the handsome star of the popular western television series Wyatt Earp received a cable from Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a renowned humanitarian who was currently working in a hospital he built on the banks of the Ogooue River in French Equatorial Africa. The message simply read that Schweitzer would welcome O'Brian at any time for a visit. So Hugh packed his bags and was off to Africa, by bush plane and then canoe, where he spent nine days observing first hand volunteer doctors and nurses caring for patients and working without electricity or running water. 

Dr. Schweitzer was impressed that the young television star took the trouble to visit him and Hugh was impressed with the doctor's work. Every evening he shared stories and life lessons with him, stirring within him the importance of having young people think for themselves. Schweitzer believed that the United States should take a leadership role in achieving peace and that there was an urgency for change. "Hugh, what are you going to do with this?" he asked the cowboy star as he departed. Well, Hugh was a man of action and within two weeks he had outlined a prototype seminar for young leaders and formed the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership ( HOBY ), a non-profit organization. 

HOBY's format for acheiving this mission was relatively simple : bring a select group of high school sophomores with demonstrated leadership abilities together along with a group of distinguished leaders in business, education, government, and other professions, and let the two interact. It gave these students a realistic look at what it takes to be a true leader, thus better enabling them “to think for themselves.”

"I believe every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny with great power for a specific purpose: to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love." - Hugh O'Brian

The organization is still active today and has even spread to Canada, Asia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the Philippines. Had Hugh O'Brian not taken the initiative to fly to Africa and meet with Dr. Schweitzer in 1958 he may never have begun HOBY, and yet, because he did take action, his organization has helped more than 400,000 students find the confidence they needed to become leaders.  

To learn more about HOBY, check out their website :

This post is a part of our latest series entitled "Did You Know?".....sometimes we just feel like sharing interesting fragments of television and movie history and now we have a place to do just that. If you have a hot tip that you would like us to share on Silver Scenes, drop us a line!

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