UPDATED SUNDAY with Martin Scorsese remembrance: “Maureen O’Hara was a great actress and an enduring icon. Her face and her vibrant red hair and her beautiful Irish voice, sometimes lilting and sometimes ferocious, were made for the cinema. She was in several of the greatest movies ever made, many of them by John Ford and with John Wayne. When I think of her in movies, the image that always comes to mind is that extraordinary first kiss in the deserted house in Ford’s The Quiet Man – the boldness of the gesture, the wind, the blazing color, the surge of attraction. I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. O’Hara at Roddy McDowall’s house back in the ’90s, and she was every bit as lovely and gracious in person as she was onscreen – she was also very, very funny. She lived a good, long life, onscreen and off. So tonight, like a lot of people, I think I’ll watch The Quiet Man again.”
Previously, 10:13AM Saturday: Actress Maureen O’Hara, who appeared in five of director John Ford’s films including How Green Was My Valley, Rio Grande and The Quiet Man, has died. Awarded an honorary Oscar last year, O’Hara was 95 and died at her home in Boise, Idaho.
“She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, The Quiet Man,” according to their statement.
In a film and TV career that spanned several decades, O’Hara appeared opposite John Wayne in the aforementioned Ford pictures Rio Grande and The Quiet Man (Steven Spielberg replicated their famous kiss in E.T. The Extra Terrestrial ) as well as The Wings of Eagles, McLintock! and Big Jake. She also starred in the original 1947 Christmas classic Miracle On 34th Street with Natalie Wood as her daughter and Edmund Gwenn as the man who believed he was Santa Claus.
After her first two pictures in 1938 (The Playboy and Little Miss Molly), her last name FitzSimons was changed to O’Hara for the 1939 Alfred Hitchcock film Jamaica Inn which also starred Charles Laughton, who thought O’Hara was somehow less cumbersome than FitzSimons. She also appeared opposite Laughton in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
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.
Other films included The Foxes of Harrow with Rex Harrison (1947), Sitting Pretty with Clifton Webb (1948), and Father Was a Fullback with Fred MacMurray (1949). She also appeared in high seas adventures 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.
O’Hara also starred opposite Alec Guiness in Our Man In Havana (1960), Henry Fonda in the sprawling family drama Spencer’s Mountain (1963) as well as the well-regarded 1973 TV movie The Red Pony, and opposite James Stewart in the comedy Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation (1962), as well as the 1966 western The Rare Breed. She’s known by many generations as the mother of twins Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills in Walt Disney’s 1961 classic comedy, The Parent Trap.
Her final feature film was director Chris Columbus’ Only The Lonely opposite John Candy in 1991. That was followed by the TV movies The Christmas Box, Cab To Canada and The Last Dance in 2000.
Although several of the movies O’Hara starred in were nominated for or won multiple Academy Awards, she was never nominated. The Academy rectified that oversight with the honorary Oscar presented to her at the 2014 Governors Awards ceremony in November. She made her final major public appearance then to accept the long overdue honor. It was a night to remember.
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