Maureen O’Hara (1920-2015) is an Irish actress who knew how to impose herself throughout her career in the very closed universe of Hollywood. Noticed for her flamboyant beauty and her immense talent as an actress, she had the opportunity to film under the direction of John Ford, giving the line to John Wayne in “The Quiet Man”. An immense talent, which is still the pride of the Irish people today!
Maureen was born in Dublin on August 17, 1920, to the Irish FitzSimons family. Very soon fascinated by cinema and singing, she took her first steps into the world of arts and culture at the age of 10, where she took part in a radio show.
At the age of 15, she took drama lessons and then joined the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin, where she performed many classical plays. Although already talented, Maureen was nevertheless forced by her father to take accounting and typing lessons in parallel with her activities.
However, her performances at the Abbey Theatre were soon noticed: she played a small part in a film: Kicking the Moon Around (1938), a musical by Walter Forde.
The famous actor Charles Laughton noticed her then, and allowed her to sign a 7-year contract with his production company Mayflower Pictures Corporation. On her advice, Maureen Fitzsimons changes her name to O’Hara.
His career got off to a flying start! Under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock, “L’auberge de la Jamaïque”, she toured with Charles Laughton. The success is there, even if the film is criticized.
Maureen takes the boat to Hollywood to shoot Quasimodo for the production company RKO, still alongside Charles Laughton, where she plays Esmeralda and he plays the Hunchback. The production is gigantic, and success is imminent. From now on, Maureen O’Hara has an international star status!
The production company RKO then bought Maureen O’Hara’s contract from Charles Laughton, with a view to having her play in various musical films such as Dance, Girl, Dance or They Met in Argentina.
The actress’ success is so great, she will attract the attention of director John Ford… Seduced by this redhead with green eyes, he decides to shoot her on his film “Qu’elle était verte ma vallée” instead of Katherine Hepburn.
She then worked for 20 years on a series of productions, and was often called upon to work on exotic productions, telling the story of pirates, travels…etc.
She then made one of her most beautiful films with “The Miracle of 34th Street”, a sentimental comedy that tells the story of an old man (Edmund Gwenn) who pretends to be Santa Claus with kindness and optimism à la Capra19.
In 1950, Maureen tried her hand at the Western, then turned again to John Ford, with whom she maintained almost family ties. He offers her to play in several films that will propel Maureen to the pinnacle of her film career:
From the 60s to the 90s, she played many roles, but she didn’t have the aura of the old films. An actress nevertheless equally acclaimed, she was celebrated by all of Hollywood until the end of her career.
She died in 2015, having had an incredible career.
1938: Kicking the Moon Around by Walter Forde