Maureen O'Hara


Actor
Maureen O'Hara

About

Also Known As
Maureen Fitzsimons
Birth Place
Ireland
Born
August 17, 1920
Died
October 24, 2015

Biography

So striking in appearance that Technicolor inventor Herbert Kalmus was said to have used her red-haired and green-eyed image to promote his creation, Maureen O'Hara was an Irish-born actress whose versatility allowed her to move gracefully from dramas to comedies and even period adventures. She was a favorite of director John Ford, who cast her in five of his films, including "How Green ...

Photos & Videos

The Long Gray Line - Movie Posters
The Long Gray Line - Lobby Card Set
The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Family & Companions

George Hanley Brown
Husband
Producer, director. Married in 1938; marriage annulled in 1941.
Will Price
Husband
Director, dialogue director. Married in 1941; divorced in 1953; directed O'Hara in "Tripoli" (1950).
Charles F Blair
Husband
Brigadier General, aviator. Married in 1968; died in crash of one of his commuter planes on September 2, 1978; aviation pioneer who was first pilot to make a solo flight over the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole; Pan Am pilot for 30 years; ran a Caribbean commuter airline, Antilles Airboats; wrote autobiography, "Red Ball in the Sky".

Notes

O'Hara was the first female preseident of a scheduled airline.

She was honored with the Heritage Award from the American Ireland Fund in 1991.

Biography

So striking in appearance that Technicolor inventor Herbert Kalmus was said to have used her red-haired and green-eyed image to promote his creation, Maureen O'Hara was an Irish-born actress whose versatility allowed her to move gracefully from dramas to comedies and even period adventures. She was a favorite of director John Ford, who cast her in five of his films, including "How Green Was My Valley" (1941), "Rio Grande" (1950) and "The Quiet Man" (1952). Her co-star in two Ford films was John Wayne, and their on-screen chemistry lead to several collaborations; she was also well-paired with James Stewart, with whom she appeared twice. She retired in the early 1970s and enjoyed a successful second career as a magazine publisher and later the first woman president of an airline company. After retiring from the screen for the second and final time in 2000, O'Hara lived a peaceful life under her death on October 24, 2015 at the age of 95.

Born Maureen FitzSimmons in Ranelagh, a suburb of Dublin, on August 17, 1920, she was one of six children born to Charles Stewart Parnell FitzSimmons (one of the owners of the Shamrock Rovers football club) and opera singer Marguerita Lilburn; three of her siblings, brothers James and Charles and sister Margot, would also become actors. O'Hara wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps, and thus, was accepted into Dublin's prestigious Abbey Theatre at the age of 14. Stage roles and appearances on Irish radio soon followed. At age 18, she traveled to London for bit parts in two films, "Kicking the Moon Around" and "My Irish Molly" (both 1938). While in London, she was offered a screen test, which came to the attention of acclaimed actor-producer-director Charles Laughton, who was casting for roles in "Jamaica Inn" (1939), a new period drama he was making with Alfred Hitchcock. Laughton became convinced of O'Hara's screen presence after watching her test, and offered her a seven-year contract with his production company, Mayflower Pictures. He also suggested she change her surname to the more marquee-friendly "O'Hara." Their first collaboration would be "Jamaica Inn," an adaptation of the Daphne du Marier story of a young orphan (O'Hara) who discovers that her uncle is the leader of a gang of pirates. Its success led to "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939), with Laughton as Quasimodo and O'Hara as Esmeralda, the fiery gypsy he loves. Her performance would soon establish her screen persona as a fiercely independent woman who could hold her own with any man.

While traveling aboard the Queen Mary to film "Hunchback," O'Hara met and was wooed by British director George Hanley Brown. The couple married aboard the ship, but the union was annulled just two years later. Her career hit a slight lull in 1940 when Laughton sold her contract to RKO due to the outbreak of World War II, which made filming in London impossible. But in 1941, director John Ford gave her career a boost by casting her as Angharad, the strong-willed female lead in his stirring family drama "How Green Was My Valley." The film was such a hit and O'Hara such an integral part of its success that her stardom - mainly as a WWII pin-up - happened overnight.

For the next two decades, O'Hara was an exceptionally popular leading lady in a wide variety of features. She seemed equally at home in mainstream dramas like "This Land Is Mine" (1943), as the love object and motivation for meek schoolteacher Charles Laughton to go to war, as she did in comedies like the seasonal favorite "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947), as the Macy's employee who hires Edmund Gwenn's Santa Claus, or "Sitting Pretty" (1948), which marked the first screen appearance of Clifton Webb as the acerbic Mr. Belvedere. But O'Hara was also well-equipped for period pieces like "The Black Swan" (1942), "Sinbad the Sailor" (1947), and "At Sword's Point," (1952) in which she was romanced by swashbucklers Tyrone Power, Douglas Fairbanks and Cornel Wilde (and more than held her own with a rapier in the latter film).

Her best work, however, came in Ford's films, where her Irish beauty and spirit were given their strongest showcase. She was the estranged wife of John Wayne's cavalry colonel in "Rio Grande" (1950), which concluded the trilogy he began with "Fort Apache" (1948) and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" (1949). Its success paved the way for the Oscar-winning "The Quiet Man" (1952), an enormously effective drama-romance with Wayne as an American in Ireland who fights the local bully (Victor McLaglen) to win the hand of his headstrong sister (O'Hara). The wind-blown image of Wayne dragging O'Hara out of the door of her home became an iconic image. The picture established Wayne as a viable romantic lead, and his palpable on-screen chemistry with O'Hara yielded several subsequent reteamings, including "The Wings of Eagles" (1957), with Wayne as real-life Navy pilot Frank "Spig" Wead, whose wife (O'Hara) supported him through a traumatic and paralyzing accident. During this exceptionally busy period, O'Hara also found time to marry her second husband, director Will Price, with whom she had a daughter, Bronwyn (who followed her mother into acting in the 1960s). Price's problems with alcohol lead to a divorce in 1952.

O'Hara also managed to make frequent appearances on television during the medium's early days of the 1950s and into the 1960s, which gave her ample opportunity to show off her vocal talents on variety shows. Her singing abilities were also put to excellent use in the short-lived 1960 Broadway musical "Christine," which was based on material by Pearl Buck. O'Hara later recorded two well-received albums, Love Letters from Maureen O'Hara and Maureen O'Hara Sings Her Favorite Irish Songs.

O'Hara brought life to several standard-issue matriarchal roles as the 1950s gave way to the 1960s; she was the mother of identical twins (Hayley Mills) who conspire to reunite her with their father (Brian Keith) in Disney's hit "The Parent Trap" (1961), and earned a Laurel nomination as James Stewart's wife in the genial family comedy "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" (1962). She later served as mother to Henry Fonda's oversized brood in "Spencer's Mountain" (1963), which was drawn from the same novel by Earl Hamner that inspired "The Waltons" (CBS, 1972-1981). Her on-screen fire was also tapped on several occasions; most notably in the Western "McClintock!" (1963), which attempted to respark the energy between her and Wayne, and "The Rare Breed" (1966), which cast her as a widowed rancher who hires James Stewart to help her manage her late husband's cattle empire. Her final big-screen appearance came in the lackluster 1971 Western "Big Jake," with - not surprisingly - John Wayne as her estranged screen husband.

In 1968, O'Hara married famed aviator and Air Force Brigadier General Charles Blair, and retired from acting after co-starring with Henry Fonda in the Emmy- and Peabody-winning TV movie "The Red Pony" (1973). With Blair, she co-managed a commuter seaplane service called Antilles Airboats, as well as owned and published The Virgin Islander, which also featured a monthly column penned by O'Hara. The happy union came to a tragic end in 1978 when Blair was killed in a plane crash. Though devastated by the accident, she assumed control of the airline and became the first woman to head a scheduled commercial air service in the United States.

Though quite happy in her retirement, with residences in Ireland, St. Croix, New York City and Los Angeles, O'Hara returned to acting several times in the 1990s and 2000s. Her brother Charles, who had become a successful producer, received a script from Chris Columbus, which included a role he had penned specifically for her. On her brother's advice, she took the part of John Candy's overbearing Irish mother who makes life difficult for her lovelorn son, in "Only the Lonely" (1991). She received excellent reviews for her comic performance. Polson Productions later lured her back into the spotlight for three TV movies between 1995 and 2000, including "The Christmas Box" (1995) and "The Last Dance (2000), in which she was top-billed as a lonely retired teacher.

O'Hara's long and distinguished career was celebrated on several occasions, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1993. She penned her autobiography, Tis Herself, in 2004, shortly before receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Film and Television Academy in her hometown of Dublin. Maureen O'Hara died of undisclosed natural causes at her home in Boise, Idaho on October 24, 2015. She was 95 years old.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Last Dance (2000)
Helen Parker
Cab to Canada (1998)
The Christmas Box (1995)
A Century Of Cinema (1994)
Only The Lonely (1991)
The Red Pony (1973)
Ruth Tiflin
Big Jake (1971)
Martha McCandles
How Do I Love Thee? (1970)
Elsie Waltz
The Rare Breed (1966)
Martha Price
The Battle of the Villa Fiorita (1965)
Moira
McLintock! (1963)
Katherine McLintock
Spencer's Mountain (1963)
Olivia Spencer
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)
Peggy Hobbs
The Deadly Companions (1961)
Kit Tilden
The Parent Trap (1961)
Maggie McKendrick
Our Man in Havana (1960)
Beatrice Severn
The Wings of Eagles (1957)
Minnie Wead
Everything but the Truth (1956)
Joan Madison
Lisbon (1956)
Sylvia Merrill
The Long Gray Line (1955)
Mary O'Donnell Maher
Lady Godiva of Coventry (1955)
Lady Godiva
The Magnificent Matador (1955)
Karen Harrison
Fire over Africa (1954)
Joanna Dane
War Arrow (1953)
Elaine Corwin
The Redhead from Wyoming (1953)
Kate Maxwell
The Quiet Man (1952)
Mary Kate Danaher
At Sword's Point (1952)
Claire Athos
Kangaroo (1952)
Dell McGuire
Flame of Araby (1952)
Princess Tanya
Against All Flags (1952)
Prudence "Spitfire" Stevens
Tripoli (1950)
Countess D'Arneau
Rio Grande (1950)
Mrs. Kathleen Yorke
Comanche Territory (1950)
Katie [Howard]
A Woman's Secret (1949)
Marian Washburn
Bagdad (1949)
Princess Marjan
Father Was a Fullback (1949)
Elizabeth Cooper
The Forbidden Street (1949)
Adelaide [Culver]
Sitting Pretty (1948)
Tacey King
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Doris Walker
Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
Shireen
The Homestretch (1947)
Leslie Hale
The Foxes of Harrow (1947)
Odalie D'Arceneaux Fox
Sentimental Journey (1946)
Julie Beck
Do You Love Me (1946)
Katherine Hilliard
The Spanish Main (1945)
Francisca
Buffalo Bill (1944)
Louisa Frederici Cody
This Land Is Mine (1943)
Louise Martin
Immortal Sergeant (1943)
Valentine Lee
The Fallen Sparrow (1943)
Toni Donne
Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942)
Carolyn Bainbridge
The Black Swan (1942)
Margaret Denby
To the Shores of Tripoli (1942)
Mary Carter
They Met in Argentina (1941)
Lolita O'Shea
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Angharad [Morgan]
A Bill of Divorcement (1940)
Sydney Fairchild
Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
Judy [O'Brien]
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Esmeralda
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Mary, his niece

Cast (Special)

The 9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2003)
Cleopatra: The Film That Changed Hollywood (2001)
Hayley Mills (1999)
John Ford: An American Icon (1999)
John Wayne: The Unquiet American (1998)
Roddy McDowall: Hollywood's Best Friend (1998)
John Candy: A Tribute (1995)
Perry Como's Irish Christmas (1994)
John Ford (1993)
The American Film Institute Salute to John Ford (1973)
Performer
The Fabulous Fordies (1972)
Who's Afraid of Mother Goose? (1967)
Mother Goose
A Cry of Angels (1963)
Susanna Cibber
Spellbound (1962)
Constance Peterson
The Talent Scouts Program (1960)
Guest

Life Events

1934

Joined the Abbey Theater in Dublin as an ingenue at age 14 before entering films (date approximate)

1936

Tested for the screen in London at age 16 (date approximate)

1938

Made film debut in "Kicking the Moon Around" (bit part)

1939

Was under contract at RKO Studios

1939

Made US film debut in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"

1941

Starred in first of five films for director John Ford, "How Green Was My Valley"

1950

Made first of five films opposite John Wayne, "Rio Grande"

1952

Starred opposite Wayne in romantic drama "The Quiet Man," perhaps her best-known role.

1956

Starred in last of five films for director John Ford, "The Wings of Eagles"

1971

Made last of five films opposite John Wayne, "Big Jake"; was also last feature for two decades

1973

Retired after starring in the NBC TV-movie "The Red Pony" with Henry Fonda

1991

Made return to feature films after a 20-year absence in "Only the Lonely"

1995

Starred in the CBS TV-movie "The Christmas Box"

1998

Played the lead in the TV-movie "Cab to Canada" (CBS)

1999

Served as Grand Marshal of the annual St Patrick's Day parade in NYC

2000

Starred in the CBS TV movie "The Last Dance," her final screen role

Photo Collections

The Long Gray Line - Movie Posters
The Long Gray Line - Movie Posters
The Long Gray Line - Lobby Card Set
The Long Gray Line - Lobby Card Set
The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Long Gray Line - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Dance, Girl, Dance - Movie Poster
Dance, Girl, Dance - Movie Poster
Against All Flags - Movie Posters
Against All Flags - Movie Posters
The Deadly Companions - Movie Poster
The Deadly Companions - Movie Poster
The Black Swan - Movie Posters
The Black Swan - Movie Posters
The Spanish Main - Movie Posters
The Spanish Main - Movie Posters
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) - Scene Stills
Here are some scene stills from RKO's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara.
Miracle on 34th Street - Movie Posters
Here are a few movie posters from Miracle on 34th Street (1947), starring John Payne, Maureen O'Hara, Edmund Gwynn, and Natalie Wood.
The Wings of Eagles - Movie Poster
Here is the original Half-sheet movie poster for The Wings of Eagles (1957), starring John Wayne.
The Parent Trap - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Disney's The Parent Trap (1961). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The Quiet Man - Movie Posters
Here are a few original American movie posters from John Fords's The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
The Tarnished Angels - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Universal Pictures' The Tarnished Angels (1957), directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Rock Hudson, Robert Stack, and Dorothy Malone.

Videos

Movie Clip

Woman's Secret, A (1949) - Genius, Would You Say? Having confessed to a shooting, Marian (Maureen O'Hara) tells cop Fowler (Jay. C Flippen) she only wants to call her friend Luke (Melvyn Douglas), introduced appearing on a radio quiz show, in Nicholas Ray's A Woman's Secret, 1949.
Woman's Secret, A (1949) - Smudge Pots And Pest Control Having just learned that her own voice won't recover, singer Marian (Maureen O'Hara) and composer Luke (Melvyn Douglas) meet kooky shopgirl and aspiring singer Susan (Gloria Grahame), all in flashback, in Nicholas Ray's A Woman's Secret, 1949.
Black Swan, The (1942) - The Captain's Share Just liberated by his pal Blue (Thomas Mitchell) from the Spanish and having himself jailed the cooperating English Governor Denby, refusing to believe his claim of a peace treaty, pirate “Jamie” Waring (Tyrone Power) likes the governor’s daughter (Maureen O’Hara) better, in Jamaica, 1674, early in 20th Century-Fox’s The Black Swan, 1942.
Black Swan, The (1942) - I've Known Too Many Hellcats Pirate "Jamie" Waring (Tyrone Power), in Jamaica, 1674, has political, personal and chauvinistic reasons to abduct Lady Margaret (Maureen O'Hara), daughter of the deposed English governor, Thomas Mitchell as his annoyed cohort "Tommy," in The Black Swan, 1942.
Quiet Man, The (1952) - A Bold One You Are! Winton Hoch’s photography supports director John Ford’s expression of operatic passions in pastoral Ireland, as American Thornton (John Wayne, title character), enters the old family home he’s just bought, finding fiery Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) engaged, in The Quiet Man, 1952.
Quiet Man, The (1952) - See Here Little Man! Dannaher (Victor McLaglen) throws a tantrum, interrupting Michaeleen (Barry FitzGerald) and Thornton (John Wayne), who’s about to buy his old family home from widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick), though his sister Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) doesn’t object, in John Ford’s The Quiet Man, 1952.
Quiet Man, The (1952) - It's Only A Mirage Michaeleen (Barry FitzGerald) conveys Thornton (John Wayne) to Innisfree, explaining to narrating Fr. Lonergan (Ward Bond) that the big American from Pittsburgh was born there, when Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) first appears, early in John Ford’s The Quiet Man, 1952.
Deadly Companions, The (1961) - Hatin' And Wantin' Revenge Complex tension as Billy and Turk (Steve Cochran, Chill Wills) follow maybe-partner "Yellow Leg," (Brian Keith) who's trying to make amends with Kit (Maureen O'Hara), escorting her to a desert town to bury her son, whom he accidentally killed in a gunfight, in Sam Peckinpah's The Deadly Companions, 1961.
Deadly Companions, The (1961) - That's What I Call Pretty In his first feature, presaging things to come, director Sam Peckinpah stages a church service in a saloon, new-in-town "Yellow-Leg" (Brian Keith) and Billy (Steve Cochran) await their third (Chill Wills) as Maureen O'Hara is introduced, mocked by others in Strother Martin's congregation, early in The Deadly Companions, 1961.
Deadly Companions, The (1961) - Five Ace Card Player Strong stuff in director Sam Peckinpah's opening to his first feature, a title song recorded by leading lady Maureen O'Hara, co-written by her brother the producer, then Brian Keith, with Chill Wills and Steve Cochran in post-Civil War Arizona, in The Deadly Companions, 1961.
Parent Trap, The (1961) - Welcome Home, Sharon! Hayley Mills (as Susan, pretending to be her twin Sharon) meets mother Maggie (Maureen O'Hara) and grandparents (Charlie Ruggles and Cathleen Nesbitt) for the first time in Walt Disney's The Parent Trap, 1961.
This Land Is Mine (1944) - Let's All Sing Cowardly teacher Loring (Charles Laughton) has just rushed his mother (Una O'Connor) to the school basement during the American air-raid on their Nazi-occupied French town, his colleague Louise (Maureen O'Hara) bearing up, in Jean Renoir's This Land Is Mine, 1943.

Trailer

Quiet Man, The - (Original Trailer) John Wayne is an Irish-born ex-boxer who retires to Ireland and searches for the proper wife in John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952).
Against All Flags - (Original Trailer) A British officer (Errol Flynn) must face off against the pirates of Madagascar in Against All Flags (1952).
Rare Breed, The - (Original Trailer) In this Western with breeding, James Stewart and Maureen O'Hara fight to take a rare English bull to Texas in The Rare Breed (1966).
How Green Was My Valley - (Re-issue Trailer) Five Oscars®, including Best Picture and Director, went to John Ford's portrait of a Welsh mining town, How Green Was My Valley (1941).
Black Swan, The - (Original Trailer) When he's named governor of Jamaica, a former pirate sets out to clean up the Caribbean in The Black Swan, 1942, starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara.
Fallen Sparrow, The - (Original Trailer) Nazi spies pursue a Spanish Civil War veteran (John Garfield) in search of a priceless keepsake in The Fallen Sparrow (1943).
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation - (Original Trailer) James Stewart takes his family to the beach and lives to regret it in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962).
Hunchback of Notre Dame, The - (Re-issue Trailer) A deformed bell ringer rescues a gypsy girl falsely accused of witchcraft in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) starring Charles Laughton.
Spencer's Mountain - (Original Trailer) A Wyoming farmer (Henry Fonda) fights to build a better life for his oldest son on Spencer's Mountain (1963).
Spanish Main, The -- (Original Trailer) Dutch rebels in the Caribbean turn pirate and kidnap the corrupt Spanish governor's bride-to-be in The Spanish Main (1945) starring Paul Henreid and Maureen O'Hara.
Sinbad the Sailor -- (Original Trailer) Sinbad, the Arabian Nights adventurer (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), sets off to find the lost treasure of Alexander the Great in Sinbad the Sailor (1947), co-starring Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak.
Wings of Eagles, The - (Original Trailer) John Wayne stars in John Ford's The Wings Of Eagles (1957), the film biography of Frank "Spig" Wead, who started the air wing of the US Navy.

Promo

Family

Charles FitzSimons
Father
Clothier. Also was part owner of The Shamrock Rovers, an Irish soccer team.
Marguerite FitzSimons
Mother
Actor, operatic contralto.
Peggy FitzSimons
Sister
Older; opera singer who won scholarship; entered religious life instead.
Florrie FitzSimons
Sister
Ballet instructor. Younger.
Charles FitzSimons
Brother
Producer, business manager. Born on May 8, 1924; died of liver failure on February 14, 2001.
Margot FitzSimons
Sister
Younger.
James FitzSimons
Brother
Younger; deceased.
Bronwyn Brigid Price
Daughter
Musician, actor. Born c. 1945; father, Will Price; has one son Beau, born c. 1971.

Companions

George Hanley Brown
Husband
Producer, director. Married in 1938; marriage annulled in 1941.
Will Price
Husband
Director, dialogue director. Married in 1941; divorced in 1953; directed O'Hara in "Tripoli" (1950).
Charles F Blair
Husband
Brigadier General, aviator. Married in 1968; died in crash of one of his commuter planes on September 2, 1978; aviation pioneer who was first pilot to make a solo flight over the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole; Pan Am pilot for 30 years; ran a Caribbean commuter airline, Antilles Airboats; wrote autobiography, "Red Ball in the Sky".

Bibliography

Notes

O'Hara was the first female preseident of a scheduled airline.

She was honored with the Heritage Award from the American Ireland Fund in 1991.