Edmond O’Brien-The Collapsing Man.
No one went to wrack and ruin like this guy. Of course, he had his heroic moments—solving the mystery in THE KILLERS and busting Cagney in WHITE HEAT--but most of the time you watch him in order to watch him fall apart in films like THE HITCH-HIKER and 711 OCEAN DRIVE. His two greatest crackups are in D.O.A as a poisoned man solving his own murder, and in SHIELD FOR MURDER (which he co-directed with Howard W. Koch) as a bad cop raging against his impending doom.
Reportedly a neighbor of Harry Houdini while growing up in the Bronx, American actor Edmond O'Brien decided to emulate Houdini by becoming a magician himself. The demonstrative skills gleaned from this experience enabled O'Brien to move into acting while attending high school. After majoring in drama at Columbia University, he made his first Broadway appearance at age 21 in Daughters of Atrus. O'Brien's mature features and deep, commanding voice allowed him to play characters far older than himself, and it looked as though he was going to become one of Broadway's premiere character actors. Yet when he was signed for film work by RKO in 1939, the studio somehow thought he was potential leading man material -- perhaps as a result of his powerful stage performance as young Marc Antony in Orson Welles' modern dress version of Julius Caesar. Read the rest here.