One of America's most beloved actresses, Maureen O'Hara actually grew up in Ireland and wanted to become an opera star. With her beautiful soprano voice, she was accepted into the prestigious Abbey Theater in Dublin when she was only 14 years old to study classical theater and opera. That changed when she was discovered by Charles Laughton in 1939. He cast her first in Jamaica Inn (produced by Alfred Hitchcock) and then in the acclaimed The Hunchback of Notre Dame, filmed in America, later the same year. Ms. O'Hara is one of the few true stars who started at the top and stayed there throughout her career.
With the start of World War II, Charles Laughton had to stop filming at his London studios and Maureen's contract was bought up by RKO Studios and she immigrated to America. A few years later, in 1946, she became a US citizen. With her classic beauty and expressive eyes, she was a popular box office headliner for many years. Her thick red hair and green eyes made her a favorite of Herbert Kalmus, the inventor of the Technicolor process. She became known as “The Queen of Technicolor” and probably was key to the success of Kalmus' invention.
Maureen O'Hara and Tyrone Powell - The Black Swan
Not only known for her beauty and phenomenal acting skills, she was also very athletic and performed many of her own stunts. She did much of the fencing and fighting that you see her perform in such swashbuckling classics
as The Black Swan (1942 with Tyrone Power), The Spanish Main (1945 with Paul Henreid) and Sinbad the Sailor (1947 with Anthony Quinn and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.).
Of course, who could forget her role as the pirate captain, Spitfire Stevens, in her role opposite Errol Flynn in Against All Flags (1952)?
Another genre that Maureen O'Hara excelled at was the classic western and she starred in many over the years. Through her work, she developed a lifelong friendship with John Wayne after first starring with him in The Rio Grande (1950) as the inimitable Kathleen Yorke. She went on to star in four more films with Wayne through the years: The Quiet Man (1952), Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) - available for free on FMO -, and Big Jake (1971).
Her friendship with John Wayne was such that she testified before Congress in 1979 in a petition to cast a commemorative medal honoring him. It was her original idea to have it simply say “John Wayne, American” as in her testimonial she states, “...he is, believe me, the United States of America. He is a man that has a code of beliefs that he sticks with.”
Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne
As an active octogenarian, Ms. O'Hara is officially retired and spends her time between her homeland of Ireland, the US and her home in the Virgin Islands. Still beautiful and dynamic, she recently published her autobiography through Simon & Schuster called 'Tis Herself. Although she is no longer making films, “The Queen of Technicolor” will live on in our hearts and minds as the true star that she always has been.
- Watch McLintock - Free Movies With Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne
- Watch The Deadly Companions - Free Movies With Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith