As you probably know by now, Maureen O’Hara died on Oct. 24 at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95.
Glad to say that she has been appropriately eulogized, and Turner Classic Movies provided a full day of her films. Today, we thought we’d add our two cents.
First, a confession,
Frank actually recalls seeing O’Hara’s movies as an early adolescent on first runs — when they first landed in movie theaters. He remembers how stirred he was by the actress’ mixture of aggression and beauty, a sexy combination to a libidinous teenager.
She says that powerful Hollywood stars and directors were drawn to her because I guess I was the only female man in their lives.
Was O’Hara one of the greats? Frankly, no.
Her talents were limited, and her “Irish temper” tantrums were sometimes wearing. But she had a visceral directness onscreen that sparked up any movie. (Frank’s favorites: 1948’s Sitting Pretty; 1955’s The Long Grey Line; and 1959’s Our Man In Havana.)
O’Hara logged 65 movie and TV credits over a lengthy career that began in 1938, peaked in the Forties and Fifties, and concluded 14 years ago.
Some questions and answers about O’Hara’s life and work:
— Which of the following was most responsible for introducing O’Hara to Hollywood, and for setting up her star movie career? (Answer: Charles Laughton.)
— Who among the following was NOT one of O’Hara’s notable leading men? a) Rex Harrison; b) Henry Fonda; c) Gary Cooper; or d) John Wayne. (Answer: Gary Cooper.)
— Which one of these famous directors did NOT direct O’Hara in a movie? a) Jean Renoir; b) Alfred Hitchcock; c) William Wyler or d) Carol Reed. (Answer: William Wyler.)
— What did O’Hara have in common with Anne Baxter, Brenda Joyce, Linda Darnell and Gene Tierney? (Answer: She was considered a possible replacement for Alice Faye as 20th Century Fox’s biggest star.)
— What does O’Hara have in common with Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Dorothy Lamour? (Answer: They married husbands who ran through the money they earned.)
— Who said this about O’Hara: Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Or anyplace else? (Answer: Elsa Lanchester, who was married to Laughton.)
— O’Hara had a serious falling out with John Wayne, her most famous male costar, over what she considered the inflated salary he demanded and got for John Ford’s The Quiet Man. a) True; b) False? (Answer: False. O’Hara and frequent costar John Wayne got on very well, and became lifelong friends. According to Wayne biographer Scott Eyman, the Duke was paid “a modest” $100,000 for John Ford’s The Quiet Man in 1952. The actor gave up a profit participation in order to get the picture done).
According to the Irish Times, O’Hara’s funeral was held in early November at the St. Charles Borromeo Cathlolic Chuch in Arlington, Virginia. As her coffin was escorted into the church, the 45-member Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band played music from The Quiet Man.
The actress was buried at Arlington National Cemetery alongside the grave of her third and final husband, Gen. Charles Blair, an Air Force aviator who died in a plane crash in 1978. O’Hara was extolled as Ireland’s first Hollywood movie star, a woman who never lost her simplicity nor her Irish roots.