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Actress Joan O’Brien in Custody Battle

Aug. 29, 1963 - Actress Joan O’Brien (pictured in 1959), called an “unfit mother” by two divorced husbands and one estranged mate, agreed today to psychiatric examination to determine whether she is a danger to herself and her two children. The decision suspended a three-day hearing on pleas of ex-husbands Billy Strange, 32, a singer, and TV executive John F. Meyers, 41, for custody of Russell Strange, 7, and Melissa Ann Meyers, 5. Meyers and Strange gained temporary custody Aug. 19 on affidavits charging that Miss O’Brien neglected the children, entertained men in her home, and had attempted suicide three times recently. Superior Judge Frederick Houser proposed the psychiatric tests after commenting: “Because I don’t think Miss O’Brien was trying to kill herself and because the children are so small, I am not disposed to take them from her permanently.” However, he said, “Miss O’Brien does not appear to have the normal concept of morals. She could be called unmoral. At the age of 27, she has had three husbands and has admitted association with other men. In my view, she did not try to take her own life. She only wanted to rouse sympathy from her various husbands. If she really were trying to kill herself, she would not have failed three or four times. She would have made it.”


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