Saturday, October 24, 2015

Remembering Maureen O'Hara

Photograph by Erin Finn, Hollywood Glamour.

I was deeply saddened to learn that Maureen O'Hara passed away this morning in Idaho at the age of 95. I knew this day would come one day but I had hoped it wouldn't come for a few years more. Almost one year after receiving an honorary Oscar, that fiery red-haired Irish woman, the "Queen of Technicolor," has left this world forever. However, she will never be forgotten and will live on in her films, in the films she made with John Wayne, and in the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street.

With two of her sisters: Margot (left) and Florrie.

She was born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland on 17 Aug 1920. She was the second child in a family of six. As a child she excelled at sports, which enabled her to perform the majority of her own stunts in her films. When she was 14 she was accepted to the Abbey Theater where she studied operatic singing in addition to acting.

With her brother, James. You may recognize him as Fr. Paul in The Quiet Man.
Her brother, Charles, was also in the film as the man who gives the toast at the wedding.

Her big debut into film, after playing in two small roles under her own name, and for the first time as Maureen O'Hara, was in Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939) alongside Charles Laughton, who discovered her. The Irish beauty was only 19 years old. Her next film was also with Laughton, the famous Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Maureen played the gypsy girl, Esmeralda.

After starring in three more films (A Bill of Divorcement; Dance Girl, Dance; and They Met in Argentina), Maureen began her long friendship with director John Ford in How Green Was My Valley (1941). She played the tragic character Angharad, the older sister of Roddy McDowell and daughter of Donald Crisp, who marries a man she doesn't love but who can afford to take her away from the horrors of a mining town.

Her next film, To the Shores of Tripoli (1942), was her first with actor John Payne, whom she would star again with in Sentimental Journey (1946) and Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

Sentimental Journey

That same year, Maureen took on the role of Lady Margaret Denby in the swashbuckling pirate film The Black Swan (1942). She took roles in several other historical films, including Against All Flags (1952) with Errol Flynn.


Miracle on 34th Street is probably the film most well known because of it's status of Christmas Classic (Maureen was the last cast member alive). Maureen plays Doris Walker, an employee of Macy's in charge of the famous annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. At the last minute she has to hire a new Santa Claus, who insists that he really is Kris Kringle. John Payne is the dashing young lawyer who takes Kris's case when Kris is sent to an institution. It's one of my favorite holiday movies and a "can't miss."

With Natalie Wood.

Rio Grande (1950) brought Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne together for the first time. This was followed by The Quiet Man (1952) - set and filmed in Maureen's beloved Ireland, The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963), and Big Jake (1971).

What girl doesn't want to be kissed like that?

Other well known films include The Parent Trap (1961) alongside Haley Mills and Brian Keith, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) and The Rare Breed (1966) with James Stewart, and Spencer's Mountain (1963) with Henry Fonda.

With her daughter, Bronwyn. The other lady is clearly related as well (one of her sisters?).

Maureen retired from the movies in 1971 but returned from 1991 to 2000 making one film and three TV movies. (For a complete list of Maureen's films, click here.)

The thing Maureen O'Hara was the most proud of was being Irish and she loved that she was the most well known Irish woman in the world.

The Hollywood Reporter Article
Hail and Farewell to Maureen O'Hara - Cowboys & Indians Magazine
Maureen O'Hara's Secret to her Longevity
Funeral Held for Irish Actress Maureen O'Hara at Arlington National Cemetery

All images found via Pinterest


  1. Oh no! This is so sad! :'(
    Olivia de Havilland, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Eve Marie Saint, Gloria deHaven, Angela Lansbury and Jerry Lewis must absolutely live forever now.

  2. I was so sad to hear about her yesterday. The Black Swan is one of my favorite movies with O'Harra, she and Power had the perfect chemistry in it.

    1. I haven't seen that one yet, but I want to!