Almost 10% of Americans can claim some Irish heritage.
Dozens of top stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age could boast of Irish-American ancestry — James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, Bing Crosby — the list is endless. In fact there was a group in Hollywood in the 30s nicknamed the Irish Mafia.
But two true immigrints from the Emerald Isle who had a lasting impression during those years were the two Maureens — O’Sullivan and O’Hara.
As you probably know by now, O’Hara died in 2015 at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95. O’Sullivan passed 17 years earlier in Scottsdale, Az. at the age of 87.
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, 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.) There she is below with costar Alec Guinness.
O’Hara logged 65 movie and TV credits over a lengthy career that began in 1938, peaked in the Forties and Fifties, and concluded in the late 1990’s. Farrow’s career was even longer — comprising some 100 movie and tv credits over more than 60 years.
Born in 1911 in Ireland’s County Rosecommon, O’Sullivan arrived in Hollywood as a winsome 18-year-old in the early Thirties, and pretty much stayed. She will be forever remembered as that dazzling good looker who, as Jane, nailed Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan.
O’Sullivan was married to director John Farrow for nearly 30 years (it ended in 1963). And, yes, she is the mother of Mia Farrow.