Benson H. "Pat" O'Brien

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Benson Harrison "Pat" O'Brien, I​​

(Owner of internationally famous Pat O'Brien's bar in the
New Orleans French Quarter)​

Born November 6, 1894​
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Reared in Birmingham, Alabama​ Resident of New Orleans, Louisiana

Died November 10, 1983 (aged 89)
Covington, St. Tammany Parish

Resting place:
Pilgrim's Rest Cemetery in Covington

Spouse Not mentioned in obituary

At least one son:
Benson O'Brien, Jr.

Benson Harrison O’Brien, I, sometimes called Pat O'Brien (November 6, 1894 – November 10, 1983), was a businessman from his adopted city of New Orleans, Louisiana.[1]


O'Brien was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but reared in Birmingham, Alabama. During World War I, he served in the Rainbow Division of the United States Army and received a Purple Heart.[2]

After the war, O'Brien worked in Houston, Texas, as a tobacco salesman and then a stockbroker. After the stock market crash of 1929, he moved briefly to Los Angeles, California, but decided to settle in New Orleans, where he opened a package liquor store in the French Quarter at the time of the ratification in 1933 of the Twenty-First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which ended national prohibition. He also established a bar along St. Peter Street.[2]

In 1947, he entered into a business partnership with Charlie Cantrell and moved the bar known as "Pat O'Brien's," to another location on St. Peter Street. In time the bar became a huge success because of O'Brien's hospitality and the introduction of the Hurricane, a drink of rum, lemon juice, fruit, fruit syrup, and crushed ice. With his popular bar, he became friends with the actor William Joseph Patrick "Pat" O'Brien (1899-1983), who visited the bar frequently. The bar became an internationally famous tourist attraction.[2] Robert Kinney, in a tour guide booklet entitled The Bachelor in New Orleans, described Pat O'Brien's as “probably the most popular Saturday-night bar in the French Quarter. Why? The spirit of Pat’s is robust!”[3]

O'Brien retired in 1974 after he was reportedly wounded at his residence by a burglar. He died four days after his 89th birthday at his residence in Covington in suburban St. Tammany Parish. He is interred there at Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery.[2][4] Coincidentally, both "Pat O'Briens" died only twenty-six days apart, but the actor was five years younger than the businessman. Pat O'Brien Road in Covington is named in his honor.

O'Brien's grandson, Benson O'Brien, III (born c. 1976), a champion teen-aged tennis player who graduated from Mandeville High School in Mandeville, also in St. Tammany Parish, is imprisoned on conviction of second-degree murder of a young woman, Bridgette Harveston, who bore his then two-month-old son out of wedlock. Benson O'Brien, II, who was born when his father was sixty-one years of age, was charged with obstruction of justice; police claimed that O'Brien, II, removed evidence from the scene of the young woman's death to a nearby burn pile. Even before the death of Bridgett Harveston, young O'Brien had consistenly run afoul of the law on multiple matters. His former stepfather, Michael Rippe, said that O'Brien's life was ruined by narcotics addiction and drunkenness.[5][6]


  1. Benson H. "Pat" O'Brien. Retrieved on April 16, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 O'Brien, Benson H. "Pat" O'Brien. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography: Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on April 16, 2020.
  3. David Wondrich (August 7, 2019). The Rebirth of a Legendary New Orleans Bar. The Daily Beast. Retrieved on April 16, 2020.
  4. 'A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses files from the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection and Special Collections at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge as well as the November 11, 1983, edition of The Baton Rouge State-Times (a since defunct afternoon daily).
  5. Ramon Antonio Vargas (May 20, 2012). Benson O'Brien, III, once a teen tennis star, now frequents the wrong kind of courts. The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved on April 19, 2020.
  6. Son of famed bar owner Pat O'Brien arrested for tampering with evidence. Fox News (August 22, 2012). Retrieved on May 3, 2020.