From the end of the '50s until the mid-'60s, perky, buxom Joan O'Brien was one of Hollywood's most promising leading ladies, specializing in comedic roles. Born in Cambridge, MA, she was raised in Southern California and started singing at an early age. At 15, she was discovered by Tennessee Ernie Ford's manager, Cliffie Stone, and was signed up as a regular performer on the local television country music showcase Hometown Jamboree. By 1953, at 17, she had moved to the CBS network as a singer on The Bob Crosby Show, an engagement that lasted four years. She was married very briefly during this period to guitarist Billy Strange, with whom she had one son. O'Brien took her first screen test in 1957 at MGM and earned a co-starring role opposite Dean Jones in David Friedkin's crime drama Handle With Care (1958). By that time, O'Brien was on her second marriage and was pregnant, so she put her fledgling movie career on hold for almost two years. She tested for Blake Edwards' Operation Petticoat (1959) and was cast alongside Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Though the movie made ample use of her 38-inch bosom as part of its plot (about army nurses and an all-male navy crew), it also gave O'Brien a chance to show off her comedic skills as the accident-prone Lt. Crandall, who wins the heart of Cary Grant's character by the movie's end. She later played a role in John Wayne's historical epic The Alamo (1960), but it was soon after her work in this film that O'Brien's personal problems began slowing her career momentum. She continued doing television over the next few years, including episodes of Wagon Train, Bachelor Father, and other television series; however, her performances attracted less attention than her stormy marital problems and other serious personal difficulties. With her looks and comedic skills, O'Brien could easily have been a rival to Barbara Eden, but instead she receded from public life following performances on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Perry Mason in late 1964. Her final big-screen appearances were in the Elvis Presley film It Happened at the World's Fair (1963) and MGM's jukebox movie Get Yourself a College Girl (1964).