Legendary actress, Maureen O'Hara, was born Maureen FitzSimons on Aug 17, 1920 in Ranelagh, Ireland. O'Hara appeared in over 60 film and TV roles. Her best known films include The Hunchback of Notre Dame (as Esmeralda), How Green Was My Valley (as Angharad), The Black Swan (as Lady Margaret Denby), Miracle on 34th Street (as Doris Walker), The Quiet Man (as Mary Kate Danaher), The Parent Trap (as Maggie McKendrick) and McLintock! (as Katherine Gilhooley McLintock). O'Hara died at the age of 95 on Oct 24, 2015 in Boise, Idaho .
Maureen O' Hara was born Maureen Fitzsimons on August 17th, 1920 in Dublin, Ireland and was the second child to Charles and Marguerita Fitzsimons. Her early was life was a charmed one, with a picturesque large family all living the quiet suburbs of Dublin. Her father worked hard a successful businessman and eventually bought into the Irish soccer team, The Shamrock Rovers while her mother was once an accomplished concert contralto who shifted her career tailoring. Despite her shift from singing to chiffon, the Fitzsimons matriarch would bestow a love of the theatrics on her children and have all of receive some sort of formal training in the performing arts. As a child O'Hara had a bit of a reputation of as tomboy, already demonstrating her boundless energy while playing the rough-and-tumble Irish version of field hockey called "Camogie." Along with great athletic skill, O'Hara showed equal amounts of passion for performance and was often seen organizing amateur backyard stage productions for the neighborhood. Seeing her daughter's passion for performance, Marguerita send Maureen to Ena Mary Burke School of Drama and Elocution in Dublin. A few years later, at the age of 14, O' Hara was then accepted to receive theatrical training from the Abbey Theatre, where she studied with dream of becoming with either a stage actress of opera star.
Throughout her teenaged years Maureen remained committed to the dream of performance. Although she attended formal schooling at the John Street West Girls' School, she focused on her dramatic training, often winning awards for her talents. Although she clearly showed great promise as an actress, O' Hara 's parent's penchant for pragmatics made the girl learn a professional, non-performance skill as a backup means of making money should her theatrical aspirations prove unsuccessful. She then enrolled in secretarial school to study bookkeeping.
While training ay the Abbey, Maureen traveled to London for bit part in the 1938 film The Playboy, which would act as her film debut. While in the smoke city, O'Hara was invited to do a screen test at Elstree Studios. When O'Hara arrived the studios immediately outfitted her in an over-styled, gaudy dressed, piled on the make-up, and only instructed to pick up a phone. The experience was not a good one for the aspiring actress and soon decided if this is the film life, then it simply is not for her. The studio was equally as displeased with the test and soon O'Hara returned to Dublin. The whole debacle might have been forgotten if not for actor Charles Laughton. The famed actor of the stage and screen happened upon the test and, despite her gaudy costume and piles of make-up, saw something intriguing about her pretty face and expressive eyes. Soon after, he called the young girl from Dublin and offered her a seven-year contact at this company, Mayflower Productions. She soon returned to London to star as the orphaned Mary, who soon discovers her uncle is the leader of a gang of pirates in Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn. Although the film received lukewarm reviews, the critics were captured by the silver screens newest siren.
Laughton was also impressed with her performance and immediately cast her opposite him in his next film, 1939'sThe Hunchback of Notre Dame as the fiery gypsy Esmeralda. The pair then traveled west to Hollywood, where filming was to begin at RKO studios. The picture proved both a financial and critical success, with many reviewers singling out O'Hara for her fine performance. The film also helped to create her on-screen persona of the fiery independent woman able to stand up to any man. With the outbreak of World War II in Europe, production in London became nearly impossible and Laughton was forced to sell O'Hara's contract to RKO studios in 1940. She was then cast as the female lead in the film A Bill of Divorcement and Dance, Girl, Dance. Although both were moderate hits, it would be her next film, John Ford's How Green was My Valley that would launch her into super stardom.
In 1941 O'Hara starred as Anghared in his turn-of-the-century family drama How Green Was My Valley. The film follows the life of the close-knit, hard-working working Morgan family, chronicling their life in the coalmines of southern Wales. The film was a smash hit on both a critical and commercial level with audiences flocking to see the movie while the trade papers sang its praises. It would go to be nominated for ten Academy Awards, wining Best Director and Best Picture. The picture also marked the first of many fruitful collaborations with O'Hara and John Ford, who would go on to call O'Hara his favorite actress.
Thanks to the success of How Green Was My Valley, O'Hara seemed to rocket to stardom overnight. Her great beauty and kissed-by-fire hair made her an incredibly popular WWII pin-up while her acting skills kept her busy on the soundstages of Hollywood. In 1942 she appeared opposite Tyrone Power as Lady Margaret in the swashbuckling action/adventure pirate fantasy The Black Swan. The picture was given the full treatment, including lavish Technicolor that brought out the best in O'Hara 's completion and hair-color. The next year she would once again star opposite Charles Laughton in the civic-propaganda wartime film This Land is Mine directed Jean Renoir. The film was a great success and would mark the last of O'Hara's collaborations with Laughton. In 1945 she starred in yet another lavish Technicolor pirate film, The Spanish Main and in 1946 demonstrated her musical talents in the 20th Century Fox film Do You Love Me.
In 1947 was cast in probably her best-known role as Doris Walker, the mother of a very young Natalie Wood in the Christmas Classic, Miracle on 34th Street. The picture was huge hit became one of the best-reviewed films of year, even gaining a Best picture nomination. That same year O'Hara starred in another Technicolor pirate adventure, Sinbad, the Sailor, this time opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jr. She would close out the decade another action/adventure in Charles Lamont's Bagdad.
Ford and Wayne
O'Hara's white-hot career continued into the 1950s with more adventure flicks such as Comanche Territory and Tripoli. That year she also worked with John Ford again, this time for the Civil War Western, Rio Grande. The film also marked O'Hara's first collaboration with another John: John Wayne. For the rest of decade, O'Hara would frequently work with the two screen giants, often on the same film. In 1952 the three work together on the romantic drama The Quiet Man. The film was far cry from the machismo filled western the three are best remembered, instead being set in the quiet hills of Ireland. The film tells the story of Boxer Sean Thornton, who leaves his hometown of Pittsburgh to reclaim his family land in Ireland, where he then falls in love with the feisty Mary Kate Danaher, played by O'Hara. The film was huge financial success, making over 3.5 million dollars at the box-office and was one of the top-ten grossing films of the year. It would also gain an impressive seven Academy Award nominations. In 1955 O'Hara starred with Tyrone Powers for the John Ford film The Long Grey Line, which tells the story of Irish Immigrant, Marty Maher, chronicling his lifelong career at West Point. Two year later, Ford and O'Hara would work on their last film together, the biopic The Wings of Angels, in which John Wayne starred as the real life naval flyer turn Hollywood screenwriter, Frank "Spig" Wead.
Television and Later Career
In 1960 O'Hara starred as the titular role in Mrs. Miniver, for it's television remake. Later that year she also put her singing voice to use in the short-lived Broadway show Christine. O'Hara remained busy on the big screen into the early 1960's with films like The Parent Trap, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, and Spencer's Mountain. In 1963 she once again worked with John Wayne, this time in the comedy-western, McLintock. During this time she also made frequent television appearances on variety shows such as The Dupont Show of the Month, The Gary Moore Show, and Off to See the Wizard. By the mid-1960's however, her career began to slow down and her film appearances became infrequent. This is in big part to her third and final marriage to General Charles Blair in 1968. In 1971 she made her final film with John Wayne, the lackluster Big Jake. Two years later she starred in the television of The Red Pony. It would be the last time she would grace the screen, big or small, for almost twenty years. At this point in her life, O'Hara switched her ambitions from career to family and worked as a full-time wife and mother.
She and Blair then bought and operated a commuter seaplane service called Antilles Airboats. After her husband's unfortunate death in 1978, she was elected the CEO and President of the Airboat Company. In 1991 she returned to big screen to play John Candy's overbearing Irish mother in the Chris Columbus comedy Only the Lonely. She appeared two more time on screen in 1990's with the TV movies The Christmas Box and Cab to Canada. Her final screen appearance was yet another TV movies with 2000's The Last Dance.
In 2004 she wrote her autobiography Tis Herself, which quickly became a New York Times best Seller. Later that year she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Film and Television Academy in her hometown of Dublin. O'Hara currently lives in quiet retirement with homes in Arizona, The Virgin Islands but spends most of time in her Glengarriff home in Ireland.(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Stars).
O'Hara's autobiography, ''Tis Herself: An Autobiography, was a New York Times Bestseller
O'HARA / WAYNE FILMS:Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne starred in five films together: Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), and The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jake (1971).
HONORS and AWARDS:.
She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. In addition, O'Hara was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum . O'Hara was never nominated for an Academy Award.
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Princess Marjan: If I leave How will you keep the soldier entertained? Will you dance for them? And Sing?
Chris Winters: Don't be that way come on let's go
Mary Carter: Sergeant?
Sgt. Dixie Smith: Yes, Ma'm
Mary Carter: Sergeant, can you explain to private Winters that as a Navy Nurse I hold the rank equivalent to a Lieutenant and at all times should be address in the same matter as a commissioner officer
Chris Winters: A Lieutenant?
Mary Carter: and he should state his business in a briefly and quickly matter as possible.
Lolita O'Shea: Thank you senor
Tim Kelly: Hey! Where my change?
Lolita O'Shea: Oh there no change all the money I collect goes to the pan American good will fun
Tim Kelly: Look Lady, I'm on the level I need that dough
Lolita O'Shea: So does the good will fund.
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