Feisty Actress Maureen O’Hara Passes Away at Age 95

Damn.

maureen ohara5

From Fox News.

Maureen O’Hara, the flame-haired Irish movie star who appeared in classics ranging from the grim “How Green Was My Valley” to the uplifting “Miracle on 34th Street” and bantered unforgettably with John Wayne in several films, has died. She was 95.

O’Hara died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho, said Johnny Nicoletti, her longtime manager.

“She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, ‘The Quiet Man,'” said a statement from her family.

“As an actress, Maureen O’Hara brought unyielding strength and sudden sensitivity to every role she played. Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life. She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world,” said a family biography.

O’Hara came to Hollywood to star in the 1939 “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and went on to a long career.

During her movie heyday, she became known as the Queen of Technicolor because of the camera’s love affair with her vivid hair, pale complexion and fiery nature.

But she also had talent.

“I proved there was a bloody good actress in me,” she told the British newspaper The Telegraph last year. “It wasn’t just my face. I gave bloody good performances.”

She never was nominated for a competitive Oscar but received an honorary Academy Award last year.

After her start in Hollywood with “Hunchback” and some minor films at RKO, she was borrowed by 20th Century Fox to play the beautiful young daughter in the 1941 saga of a coal-mining family, “How Green Was My Valley.”

“How Green Was My Valley” went on to win five Oscars including best picture and best director for John Ford, beating out Orson Welles and “Citizen Kane” among others. It was the first of several films she made under the direction of Ford, whose grouchy nature seemed to melt in her presence — although he once punched her hard in the jaw at a party.

The popularity of “How Green Was My Valley” confirmed O’Hara’s status as a Hollywood star. RKO and Fox shared her contract, and her most successful films were made at Fox.

They included “Miracle on 34th Street,” the classic 1947 Christmas story in which O’Hara was little Natalie Wood’s skeptical mother and among those charmed by Edmund Gwenn as a man who believed he was Santa Claus.

Other films included the costume drama “The Foxes of Harrow” (Rex Harrison, 1947); the comedy “Sitting Pretty” (Clifton Webb, 1948); and the sports comedy “Father Was a Fullback” (Fred MacMurray, 1949).

Often she sailed the high seas in colorful pirate adventures such as “The Black Swan” with Tyrone Power, “The Spanish Main” with Paul Henreid, “Sinbad the Sailor” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and “Against All Flags” with Errol Flynn.

With Ford’s “Rio Grande” in 1950, O’Hara became Wayne’s favorite leading lady. The most successful of their five films was 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” also directed by Ford, in which she matched Wayne blow for blow in a classic donnybrook.

In one scene, she recalled, Wayne drags her across a field that he and Ford had covered with sheep dung.

With her Irish spunk, she could stand up to the rugged Duke, both on and off screen. She was proud when he remarked in an interview that he preferred to work with men — “except for Maureen O’Hara; she’s a great guy.”

“We met through Ford, and we hit it right off,” she remarked in 1991. “I adored him, and he loved me. But we were never sweethearts. Never, ever.”

O’Hara’s other movies with Wayne were “The Wings of Eagles” (1957), “McClintock!” (1963) and “Big Jake” (1971).

After her studio contracts ended, she remained busy. She played the mother of twins, both played by Hayley Mills, who conspire to reunite their divorced parents in the 1961 Disney comedy “The Parent Trap.”

She was also in “Spencer’s Mountain” with Henry Fonda (1963), a precursor to TV’s “The Waltons”; and a Western, “The Rare Breed,” with James Stewart (1966).

In 1968, she married her third husband, Brig. Gen. Charles Blair. After “Big Jake,” she quit movies to live with him in the Virgin Islands, where he operated Antilles Airboats. After his death in a 1978 plane crash, she ran the company for several years before selling it, making her the first woman president of a scheduled airline in the United States.

“Being married to Charlie Blair and traveling all over the world with him, believe me, was enough for any woman,” she said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. “It was the best time of my life.”

She returned to movies in 1991 for a role that writer-director Chris Columbus had written especially for her, as John Candy’s feisty mother in a sentimental drama, “Only the Lonely.” It was not a box-office success.

Over the following decade, she did three TV movies: “The Christmas Box,” based on a best-selling book, a perennial holiday attraction; “Cab to Canada,” a road picture; and “The Last Dance.”

While making “The Christmas Box” in 1995, she admitted that roles for someone her age (75) were scarce: “The older a man gets, the younger the parts that he plays. The older a woman gets, you’ve got to find parts that are believable. Since I’m not a frail character, it’s not that easy.”

She played a retired schoolteacher in the 2000 TV movie “The Last Dance.”

Maureen FitzSimons (pronounced Fitz-SYM-ons) was born in 1920 near Dublin, Ireland. Her mother was a well-known opera singer, and her father owned a string of soccer teams. Through her father, she learned to love sports; through her mother, she and her five siblings were exposed to the theater.

“My first ambition was to be the No. 1 actress in the world,” she recalled in 1999. “And when the whole world bowed at my feet, I would retire in glory and never do anything again.”

In her 2004 autobiography, “‘Tis Herself,'” O’Hara recalled that a Gypsy told her at the age of 5 that “You will leave Ireland one day and become a very famous woman known all around the world.'”

Maureen was admitted to the training program at Dublin’s famed Abbey Theater, where she was a prize student. When word of the beautiful Irish teen reached London, she was offered a screen test, and a friend convinced her reluctant parents to allow it.

Maureen considered the test a failure, but it led to a few small roles in English films. The great actor Charles Laughton, who was producing and starring in films made in England, saw the test and was intrigued by her dancing eyes. At 17 she co-starred opposite him in a pirate yarn, “Jamaica Inn,” directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Laughton gave her a more manageable name: O’Hara.

With the onslaught of World War II, filmmaking virtually halted in England. Laughton moved to RKO in Hollywood and starred as Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” with O’Hara as the beautiful gypsy girl, Esmeralda.

……She is survived by her daughter, Bronwyn FitzSimons of Glengarriff, Ireland; her grandson, Conor FitzSimons of Boise and two great-grandchildren.

More of her bio at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O’Hara

She’s buried at Arlington National Cemetery, next to her husband, Air Force Brigadier General Charles F. Blair, Jr.

Maureen O’Hara was one of my favorite actors.  I loved everything she did. She came from a class of movie stars that are long gone and will never be seen again. No one in this day and age can measure up.

Rest in peace, Ms. O’Hara.

IrishBlessing

maureen ohara6 maureen ohara4 maureen ohara3 maureen ohara1 maureen ohara2

Related article:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/goldstandard/la-et-mn-maureen-ohara-governors-awards-oscars-20151024-column.html

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by V.E.G. on 28/10/2015 at 13:09

    All three keep a secret about the whisper to John Wayne’s ear in the Quiet Man. Before she passed away on October 24, 2015, the two are dead. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Three can keep a secret if two are dead.”

  2. Posted by V.E.G. on 24/10/2015 at 17:55

    Well done, Maureen O’Hara. Rest in peace.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: