LEGENDARY Irish actress Maureen O’Hara has lit up Hollywood for decades, portraying strong, fearless women in a number of classics.
From his starring role in the 1947 Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street to his performance alongside John Wayne in the iconic 1952 Irish love story The quiet manO’Hara earned the nickname “Queen of Technicolor” for her ability to light up the big screen.
Born Maureen FitzSimons in Churchtown – then a suburb – now part of metropolitan Dublin, on August 17, 1920, O’Hara was raised as one of six at 32 Upper Beechwood Avenue in Ranelagh.
Talent was in her blood – Maureen’s mother Marguerita was a well-known opera singer, and her father Charles owned a string of football teams, including his beloved Shamrock Rovers.
To celebrate the life of one of Ireland’s greatest girls, here are 7 little-known facts about Maureen O’Hara…
1. A GYPSYS PREDICTION
According to his 2004 autobiography, It’s herselfat the age of five, a gypsy said to Maureen “You will one day leave Ireland and you will become a very famous woman known all over the world”.
Just 13 years later, she would star in her first film, the low-budget 1938 musical My Irish Molly – the only photo she took under her real name, Maureen FitzSimons.
She will then receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7004 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
2. NAME CHANGE
Maureen FitzSimons was brought to Hollywood in the late 1930s by legendary actor, director and producer Charles Laughton – who originally signed her to a personal services contract.
The contract meant she was signed to Laughton instead of a studio, as was common at the time.
Laughton thought the unusual spelling of her last name would be a problem for her career, so she was given a choice between O’Hara or O’Mara.
3. PROUD IRISH
O’Hara became an American citizen on January 25, 1946 – but retained her Irish nationality.
It was the first time in history that the United States government recognized an Irish citizen.
This has led to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.
4. BEST FRIEND
Maureen starred with John Wayne in five films – big river (1950), The quiet man (1952), The wings of eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jacques (1971) – always like his wife or love.
Off-screen, the couple remained best of pals, and Wayne considered her the only woman he ever considered a true friend. In her Caribbean vacation home, Maureen even had a wing she called “the John Wayne wing” because he stayed there when he visited.
When Wayne lay dying in his hospital bed in 1979, he watched Maureen on television ask Congress to give him a Congressional Gold Medal – which they did by unanimous vote.
5. OTHER SKILLS
Maureen performed many of her own stunts in her films, rare for an actress at that time.
She was also a talented typist and even typed some of her own scripts and rewrites later in life.
After retiring, she enjoyed a second career as a successful magazine editor – one of the reasons was to help keep her from getting bored, which we can all relate to.
6. CLOSING CONSERVATOR
Maureen was a staunch conservative Republican throughout her time in the United States.
She supported the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush while a US citizen.
However, whether she would have voted for Donald Trump will remain a mystery forever – thankfully.
Maureen was the last credited actor of 1947 Miracle on 34th Street died October 24, 2015.
She is buried in Arlington Cemetery, alongside her late husband Charles Blair – who died months before his best friend John Wayne in September 1978.
She was 95 years old.
* Originally published in July 2019