Maureen O’Hara, Classic Film Beauty, Dies At 95

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October 26, 2015 – Maureen O’Hara, the gorgeous Irish-born beauty who starred in dozens of classic films during Hollywood’s Golden Years, died over the weekend at 95. 

She was one of the last remaining stars from that era.

Her first significant film role was in 1939, opposite Charles Laughton in Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Also in that year she starred as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, also with Laughton.  

In 1941 she would star in How Green Was My Valley, the beloved story of a small Welsh coal-mining town at the turn of the century. That classic film — which would beat out Citizen Kane for Best Picture — would mark the beginning of one of the most important working relationships of her life. The director, John Ford, would cast her in a total of 5 films, including the perennial favorite, The Quiet Man, and she was known to be his favorite actress.

She starred with virtually every A-list star of the time: James Stewart, Tyrone Power, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Rex Harrison, Victor McLaglan, Walter Pidgeon, Errol Flynn and Robert Young are just a few of the names. One of her favorites was the young Natalie Wood, with whom she made Miracle on 34th Street.

She also worked in five films with John Wayne, who adored her. He would say of her, She’s a great guy. I’ve had many friends, and I prefer the company of men. Except for Maureen O’Hara. That feeling was returned by O’Hara, who said of him, : “I was tough. I was tall. I was strong. I didn’t take any nonsense from anybody. He [Wayne] was tough, he was tall, he was strong and he didn’t take any nonsense from anybody. As a man and a human being, I adored him.” In addition to The Quiet Man, they would star together in Rio Bravo, McClintock, The Wings of Eagles and Big Jake

Among her other notable films were the Christmas classic  Miracle on 34th Street, The Parent Trap, Only the Lonely and Our Man in Havana. She was called “the Queen of Technicolor” which beautifully showed off her bright red hair and her flashing green eyes. 

And she was often cast in movies that required her to stand up to her male co-stars, take — and throw — a punch, and that toughness was part of her real-life persona, as well. She took on Walt Disney over a contract — and won. The cranky mogul was reported to have called her “…that bitch” on his deathbed.

Of herself, she would say “I’ve always been a tough Irish lass.”

Watch McClintock  and The American West of John Ford at Filmrise.com.
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