Maureen O’Hara as Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Beautiful Maureen O’Hara has long been one of my favorite actresses. I first saw her in Miracle on 34th Street and remember thinking, even as a child, that she was extraordinarily beautiful and compelling. Of course, I had no idea what compelling meant at that time, but I knew she was all over it.
The second movie I remember seeing her in was The Parent Trap with Brian Keith. Still gorgeous and still compelling – and this time I understood the word. You just cannot look away when she’s commanding a scene.
Growing up with a father who loved Westerns like kids love candy (that’s where I get my infatuation with Westerns from), I’d go on to see her very, very often alongside one of our favorite cowboys, John Wayne.
While Maureen O’Hara starred with John Wayne in five films, it often felt like she was in every other one. In each film they starred in together, they portrayed a married couple. John Ford directed the first three:
- Rio Grande (1950)
- The Quiet Man (1952)
- The Wings of Eagles (1957)
- McLintock! (1963)
- Big Jake (1971).
Fast Facts About the Compelling Maureen O’Hara!
- She was having lunch with Lucille Ball when Lucy first saw Desi Arnaz.
Was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
She became an American citizen on January 25, 1946 but retained her Irish citizenship. It was the first time in history that the United States government recognized an Irish citizen as Irish, leading to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.
- An exceptional typist, she typed some of her own scripts and rewrites.
In 1993, she was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
- Gave birth to her only child, daughter Bronwyn Brigid Price (aka Bronwyn FitzSimons) in 1944. Bronwyn was named after the character played by Anna Lee, Maureen’s co-star, in How Green Was My Valley (1941).
She was one of four actresses to be nicknamed “Queen of Technicolor”. The other three: Maria Montez, Yvonne De Carlo, and Rhonda Fleming.
She was the second actress (Myrna Loy was the first) to receive an honorary Academy Award without ever having been nominated previously.
- Bronwyn’s son Conor Beau FitzSimons became an hairdresser who owns his own line called “The Red Collection“, honoring his famous grandmother.
- Maureen got her daughter started in movies with a cameo in Spencer’s Mountain(1963). Though a gifted actress, Bronwyn dropped out of films after a brief career and began a family.
A Conservative Republican, she supported the Presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush.
Maureen O’Hara was the last credited cast member of Miracle on 34th Street to pass away (October 24, 2015 in Idaho). She is buried at Arlington Cemetery, beside her late husband Charles Blair, a great military officer.
John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Claude Jarman, Jr. in Rio Grande
Maureen O’Hara Quotes
“Every star has that certain something that stands out and compels us to notice them. As for me I have always believed my most compelling quality to be my inner strength, something I am easily able to share with an audience. I’m very comfortable in my own skin. I never thought my looks would have anything to do with becoming a star. Yet it seems that in some ways they did.”
“I made John Wayne sexy. I take credit for that.”
(About some of her leading men.) “I enjoyed James Stewart, I enjoyed Brian Keith and I enjoyed Henry Fonda. Jeff Chandler was a nice man but a bad actor.”
(When asked what her most marked characteristic was.) “The hell and fire in me. They came as a set.”
“Speaking as an actress, I wish all actors would be more like Duke (John Wayne), and speaking as a person, it would be nice if all people could be honest and as genuine as he is. This is a real man.”
(About Walt Disney referring to her as, “That bi*ch.”) “I don’t mind what he said. He didn’t like me because I wouldn’t let him get out of a contract. Not many people had the guts to stand up to him. At least he didn’t think of me and say, ‘That wimp’.”
“I proved there was a bloody good actress in me. It wasn’t just my face. I gave bloody good performances.”