Maureen O’Hara, spirited star of ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘The Quiet Man …

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actor Maureen O’Hara dies aged 95.

Maureen O’Hara, the flame-haired Irish movie star who appeared in classics ranging from the grim “How Green Was My Valley” to the uplifting “Miracle on 34th Street” and bantered unforgettably with John Wayne in several films. “It is with a sad heart that we share the news that Maureen O’Hara passed away today in her sleep of natural causes,” a statement from the Fitzsimons family read. “Maureen was our loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, The Quiet Man.” “Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life.

She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world,” said a family biography. Later in life, she became the first woman president of a commercially scheduled airline in the United States. ” She had, they added, remained a champion of the arts, aviation and all things Irish throughout her life and never lost her joy and wonder of these pursuits. “As much as Maureen cherished her privacy, she always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

During her movie heyday, she became known as the Queen of Technicolor because of the camera’s love affair with her vivid hair, pale complexion and fiery nature. The scenic coastal home on 35 acres was placed on the market in October last year with an asking price of €2.3 million after O’Hara moved permanently to the US to be close to her family. Other films included the costume drama “The Foxes of Harrow” (Rex Harrison, 1947); the comedy “Sitting Pretty” (Clifton Webb, 1948); and the sports comedy “Father Was a Fullback” (Fred MacMurray, 1949).

Often she sailed the high seas in colorful pirate adventures such as “The Black Swan” with Tyrone Power, “The Spanish Main” with Paul Henreid, “Sinbad the Sailor” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and “Against All Flags” with Errol Flynn. The most successful of their five films was the 1952 “The Quiet Man,” also directed by Ford, in which she matched Wayne blow for blow in a classic donnybrook. She was proud when he remarked in an interview that he preferred to work with men — “except for Maureen O’Hara; she’s a great guy.” After her studio contracts ended, she remained busy. He died in a plane crash in 1978. “Being married to Charlie Blair and traveling all over the world with him, believe me, was enough for any woman,” she said in a 1995 Associated Press interview. “It was the best time of my life.” She returned to movies in 1991 for a role that writer-director Chris Columbus had written especially for her, as John Candy’s feisty mother in a sentimental drama, “Only the Lonely.” It was not a box-office success.

Over the following decade, she did three TV movies: “The Christmas Box,” based on a best-selling book, a perennial holiday attraction; “Cab to Canada,” a road picture; and “The Last Dance.” While making “The Christmas Box” in 1995, she admitted that roles for someone her age (75), were scarce: “The older a man gets, the younger the parts that he plays. Through her father, she learned to love sports; through her mother, she and her five siblings were exposed to the theater. “My first ambition was to be the No. 1 actress in the world,” she recalled in 1999. “And when the whole world bowed at my feet, I would retire in glory and never do anything again.” Maureen was admitted to the training program at Dublin’s famed Abbey Theater, where she was a prize student. Her first husband was director George Hanley Brown, whom she met while making “Jamaica Inn.” When she moved to Hollywood, he remained in England and the marriage was annulled.

O’Hara’s career was threatened by a manufactured scandal in 1957, when Confidential magazine claimed she and a lover engaged in “the hottest show in town” in a back row in Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater. But at the time, she told AP, “I was making a movie in Spain, and I had the passport to prove it.” She testified against the magazine in a criminal libel trial and brought a lawsuit that was settled out of court.

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