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Sobieski, Carol O'Brien (1939–1990)

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell Biography Entry

Carol O'Brien Sobieski, television and film writer, was born on March 16, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Frank Thomas and Emeline (Bush) O'Brien. When she was five the family moved to the Texas Panhandle and took over operation of the Frying Pan Ranch, near Amarillo. Carol's father was a lawyer, and her mother was a painter, politician, and teacher. Carol attended public schools in Amarillo until entering a private high school in Connecticut. She later earned a bachelor's degree from Smith College and a master's in literature from Trinity College, Dublin. In 1964 she married James Louis Sobieski, a lawyer; the couple had three children. After her marriage, Mrs. Sobieski did some acting in community theaters but soon became interested in writing for television in Los Angeles. In 1964 she was hired by MGM as a scriptwriter for the television series "Mr. Novak." She also wrote scripts for "The Mod Squad" and "Peyton Place." Her writing credits for television movies included The Neon Ceiling, Sunshine, Sunshine Christmas, Amelia Earhart, and Harry Truman: Plain Speaking. In the 1980s Sobieski became known for her film screenplays, which included Annie and Honeysuckle Rose. During her career she received awards from the Writers Guild, Women in TV and Film, and the San Francisco Film Festival. Although she lived her adult life away from Texas, she maintained her ties to Amarillo. The premiere showing of Honeysuckle Rose was held there in 1980 and featured an appearance by the movie's star, Willie Nelson. Proceeds from the event benefited a scholarship fund at Amarillo College. Several years later a similar premiere of Winter People, for which Sobieski also wrote the screenplay, raised money for the Amarillo College Foundation. Her last work was preparing the screenplay for Fried Green Tomatoes. Carol Sobieski died of liver disease at age fifty-one in Santa Monica, California, on November 4, 1990. She was buried in Amarillo. Survivors included her husband, one son, two daughters, and one sister. Amarillo College maintains a scholarship fund in her name.

Amarillo Daily News, November 7, 1990. Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television (Detroit: Gale Research, 1984).


  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Screenwriters
  • Women
  • Authors and Writers
  • Dramatists and Novelists

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Sobieski, Carol O'Brien,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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