Maureen O'Hara

Biography-Filmography-List of Honors & Awards
  Born 8-17-20 - Ranelagh, Ireland


Biography of Maureen O'Hara
Composed by June Parker-Beck  - with  personal consult of Maureen O'Hara

In America, the childhood accomplishments of actress Maureen O'Hara would definitely have put her in the "child protogé" category.  However, for a child of Irish heritage surrounded by gifted parents and family, it was perfectly natural way of life.  The infant, Maureen FitzSimons, came into this talented and caring haven in Ranelagh (a suburb of Dublin)  Ireland on August 17, 1920.  Maureen's mother, Marguerita Lilburn FitzSimons was an accomplished contralto.  Her father, Charles FitzSimons owned and managed a business in Dublin, and also owned part of the renowned Irish soccer team, "Shamrock Rovers."  Maureen was second of what would be six FitzSimons children.  Older sister, Peggy, was a soprano and while still a school girl was invited to sing at state and diplomatic affairs.  Although Peggy chose a religious calling as a Sister of Charity nun, she had earlier been offered a scholarship to LaScala. The equally gifted younger siblings,  Florrie, Charles, Margot and James rounded out this beautiful family. (Florrie, Charles and James are now deceased).

Maureen's early childhood friends remember her most for her tomboy/athletic abilities. Even then she was a  force to be reckoned with - especially while playing the very rough Irish  field hockey game called "Camogie." Maureen took her sports very seriously and pleaded with her father to form a soccer team for women so she could play.  Maureen was equally as serious above her love of singing and performing. She had great fun organizing backyard stage shows for their neighbors, using her brothers and sisters as supporting players. Recognizing the fact that Maureen remained intent on acting, her mother sent her to elocution school.  Maureen was subsequently accepted to the famed Abbey Theater at the tender age of 14 with a dream of becoming a stage actress or opera singer.

As a teenager, Maureen remained busy with her education and theatrical training, winning about every acting Feis award for drama and theatrical performing her country offered.  Despite her theatrical success,  Maureen's mother and father were extremely practical and insisted that Maureen enroll in secretarial and bookkeeping classes (just in case her stage career didn't materialize). So,  Maureen was not only a promising, beautiful young actress, but became a trained stenographer and bookkeeper as well.   These secretarial skills came in quite handy much later in her film career when taking dictation for the script of "The Quiet Man" from Director John Ford.

During her theatrical training at Abbey in Dublin Maureen received a request to travel to London to do a screen test at Elstree Studios.  She remembers how they dressed her up in a "gold lamé dress with flapping sleeves like wings."  She was definitely not comfortable in this gaudy costume or the heavy makeup.  She was instructed to walk to a ringing telephone and repeatedly pick up the receiver and then slam it down.  Maureen felt that if this is what movies were all about, she wanted no part of it.  She was eager to get it all over with and get back to the Abbey quickly where she had been assigned her first leading stage role. While still in London Maureen's agent told her that there was someone he wanted her to meet.  It was then Maureen was presented to actor Charles Laughton.  Laughton, together with his partner, Eric Pommer owned a film company called "Mayflower Pictures" and were looking for a young girl for a leading role in their new picture, "Jamaica Inn" directed by Alfred Hitchcock.   When Laughton asked the extremely confident young actress to read from a script she politely declined.  Maureen stated that she could not read from a script she knew nothing about. Mr. Laughton then inquired if there was any film footage of her available.  She then told him about the test made earlier in the day.

After their meeting, Laughton saw the screen test Maureen had made. His reaction was not unlike Maureen's feelings when she made the test - he also found the costuming garish and saw no reason to pursue the matter.   However, on his way home he couldn't forget Maureen's hauntingly beautiful eyes. By the time he arrived in London City Laughton realized that beneath all that glitz in the screen test was a fine actress..  In fact, still envisioning those spell-binding eyes, he called his partner, Eric Pommer, insisting that he see Maureen's test that same night.   Pommer experienced the same delayed reaction Maureen's image.   Her eyes were so haunting that by the time Pommer arrived in London he agreed that they should sign this young woman immediately.

When Maureen returned to Dublin she found an offer of a 7-year contract waiting for her from Mayflower Productions . Since Maureen was only 17, the contract was signed not only by Maureen, but also by her parents, and witnessed by the local Parish Priest. This contract began Maureen's official movie career, co-starring with Laughton in "Jamaica Inn" - filmed in London. Before filming "Jamaica Inn," Pommer and Laughton decided Maureen's last name "FitzSimons" was a bit too long for the marquee and changed it to "O'Hara."

The "Jamaica Inn" movie was a great success and Charles Laughton then offered Maureen the female lead of Esmeralda in "Huchback of Notre Dame.  Maureen, accompanied by her mother, Margurita to FitzSimons journeyed to America, and Hollywood where the film was to be made at RKO Studios.  The epic picture was  an extraordinary success and Maureen's contract was eventually bought by RKO.  By the young age of 19, Maureen had already starred in two major motion pictures with Charles Laughton. Maureen began at the top as a lady lady and remained there throughout her career, with a string of all-time classics to her credit.

With that red hair, and peaches and cream Irish complexion, she fairly exploded with color and energy on the screen. No wonder Herbert T. Kalmus, inventor of the Technicolor process, would never hesitate to render a color commitment to a studio if he knew Maureen would be starring in the film. Her beauty so enhanced his color process that she became known as the "The Queen of Technicolor."  In fact, Kalmus used Maureen's ideal image and coloring to literally sell his invention.  All of her Technicolor movies brought her great acclaim, and top box office recognition.

There was, however, much more to Maureen O'Hara than her dynamic beauty. She not only had a wonderful lyric soprano voice, but demonstrated an athletic ability that allowed her to perform physical  feats that most actresses couldn't begin to attempt -  from fencing to fisticuffs. She had the unique ability to perform these daring deeds and still remain totally feminine and elegant. More importantly, she created an equality to her male costars that is unsurpassed in film history. Maureen brought intelligence, dignity and womanly pride to every role she played.  Throughout her career she displayed great courage and determination to do things that she felt were best for her.  This strength of character certainly made her a feminist in her own time.

Maureen's career was also brightened considerably by John Ford. In 1941 Director John Ford, who was at 20th Century Fox, cast Maureen as the lovely Anghared in "How Green Was My Valley." It was the beginning of a life-long friendship between Ford and O'Hara.  Ford did not hesitate to share the fact that Maureen was his favorite actress. She was Irish, gorgeous and multi-talented.  He referred to her as "A Man's kind of woman." She was all of that and more. Maureen made five films for Ford - "How Green Was My Valley," "Rio Grande," "The Quiet Man," "Wings of Eagles" and "The Long Gray Line."  Ford described Maureen as "The best bloody actress in Hollywood."

John Ford wasn't the only "pairing" that enhanced Maureen's career. Ford brought Maureen to the screen with the actor he helped into stardom, John Wayne. The tall, dynamic stature of the "Duke" met his perfect match in the equally powerful Maureen O'Hara.   Maureen was 5 ft. 8 inches tall, with a steely determination that easily challenged the 6 feet 4 stature of Wayne. Add to this her sensual, yet fiery appeal, and John Wayne acquired a new sexuality. No more the shy, boyish demeanor with the ladies. With just the exchange of an intense gaze at one another, Wayne and O'Hara could create a sensuality that kindled the imagination of their audience. So successful was their teaming on the screen that actresses who co-starred with Wayne in subsequent films could not equal the luster and  "naturalness" of the Irish Lady O'Hara in his arms -( see
http://www.users.uswest.net/~aknot/dukemo.htm).

During the early 40's Maureen met and married Will Price, and in June, 1944, her daughter Bronwyn was born.  Unfortunately Price had an alcohol problem and the marriage ended in divorce in 1952.

Despite her busy film career Maureen managed to schedule numerous television appearances in the 50's, 60's and  70's. Maureen found great joy in them because it afforded her the opportunity to pursue her love of singing. She brightened many variety shows with multiple appearances on the variety TV shows of Perry Como, Andy Williams, Ernie Ford,  George Gobel, Bob Hope, Garry Moore.   She also did several dramas on television theaters, and was acclaimed for her performance in TV's "Mrs. Miniver." Another highlight in her career was starring in a Broadway musical, Christine," a story written by  Pearl Buck. Though the show experienced production problems and had to close after 12 weeks, Maureen's received wonderful reviews and the Columbia records album is now a collector's item.

With her lovely daughter to raise, Maureen worked hard at her craft and remained the consummate professional, respected by those who worked with her, and adored by directors.  They knew with Maureen O'Hara in a lead role was a guarantee that no production time would be lost. She came to the set prepared, with lines learned and ready to deliver her best performance - demanding no prima donna treatment..  Leading men like Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Brian Keith, Duke Wayne, et. al, looked forward to working with her. She made five pictures with Duke Wayne, three with Brian Keith, two with Jimmy Stewart, six with Anthony Quinn, two with Tyrone Power, three with Charles Laughton,  two with Cornel Wilde, four with John Payne and five for Director John Ford. Some of Maureen's other leading men included: Alec Guinnes, John Forsythe, Errol Flynn, George Sanders, Walter Pigeon, Robert Young, McDonald Carey, Jeff Chandler, Rex Harrison, Rosano Brazzi, Melvin Douglas, Paul Henreid and Joel McCrea. You would never hear any of these fine masculine leading men state, "Oh God, not that woman again!"

In addition to famed director Ford, Maureen was also fortunate to have worked for some of the other great directors in the business: Alfred Hitchcock, William Dieterle, John Ford, Henry Hathaway, Henry King, Jean Renoir, John M.  Stahl, William Wellman, Frank Borzage, Walter Lang, George Seaton,  George Sherman, Carol Reed, Delmer Daves, David Swift, Andrew McLaglen, and Chris Columbus.

In 1968  Maureen found much deserved personal happiness when she married Charles Blair.  General Blair was a famous aviator whom she had known as a friend of her family for many years. However, the time was finally right for both of them,  and they fell in love and were married. A new career began for Maureen - that of a full-time wife. Her  marriage to Blair, however, was again, not "typical." He was the real-life version of what John Wayne was on the screen. Blair had been a Brigadier General in the Air Force, a Senior Pilot with Pan  American, along with incredible record breaking aeronautic achievements. Maureen happily retired from films in 1973 after making the TV movie "The Red Pony" with Henry Fonda.  With Blair, Maureen owned and managed a commuter sea plane service in the Caribbean, "Antilles Airboats." During those wonderful years with Charles Blair, Maureen also published the magazine of the Virgin Islands "The Virgin Islander"writing a monthly column "Maureen O'Hara Says...."  As wife of Charles Blair, Maureen said, "I got to live the adventures I'd only acted out on the Fox and Universal lots." Blair was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1978. Though completely devastated, Maureen picked up the pieces and with memories of ten of the happiest years of her life, continued on. Maureen was elected CEO and President Antilles Airboats with the distinction of being the first woman President of a scheduled airline in the USA. Later Maureen sold the airline with the permission of the shareholders.

Maureen now lives quite happily in retirement.  Though her home is in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, she also spends time throughout the year in New York, and Los Angeles and Ireland.  Fortunately she was coaxed out of retirement several times; once in 1991 to appear with John Candy in "Only The Lonely," and again in 1995 to do a made for TV movie "The Christmas Box" on CBS.  "Christmas Box" was #1 in it's time slot, and has now become a traditional seasonal offering by CBS.   In spring of 1998 Maureen accepted another TV movie entitled "Cab to Canada." which aired in November of that year.  O'Hara fans were elated when their heroine was there again for them "Last Dance" which aired on CBS - October, 2001.

Maureen is still absolutely stunning, with that trademark red hair, dazzling smile and huge, expressive eyes.  Time has not diminished the elegance and regal beauty of Maureen O'Hara. Maureen O'Hara fans are global and utterly devoted to her talent and her image. Still immensely popular today, Maureen has also become quite a hit in cyberspace. The first comprehensive site on Ms. O'Hara ever presented on the World-Wide-Web. became so popular (over 135,000 visitors) that an extension site was composed by the same author at http://www.moharamagazine.com. Today the combined tally of visitors of these sites is over 250,000 visitors.

The year 2004 was a busy one for Maureen.  She completed her memoirs "Tis Herself" which was published by Simon and Schuster and officially released in March.  She began a promotional tour in Los Angeles appearing on TV, radio and book signings, and then moved on to New York City for another round of the same.  She made another historic appearance at Macy's, signing copies of her books in an elaborate setting of an exterior of a movie theater complete with marquee displaying the words "Miracle on 34th Street" -  designed by Macy's.  In June, 2004, Maureen journeyed to Glengarriff, Cork, Ireland to her summer home there and in August and September began another book promotional tour for the European release of "Tis Herself."  She was honored in Galway at the Glaway Film Festival, made numerous appearances on TV and radio, and on Sept. 26th was honored by the Irish Film Institute with their prestigious "Lifetime Achievement" award.

Maureen has now retired to her home in Glengarriff, County Cork - Ireland, having celebrated her 90th birthday on August 17th, 2010. You won't find her kicking back and watching her old movies but instead is busily working towards realizing a dream - building a museum and a film school in Glengarriff as her legacy to her Irish heritage.  There is an active media blitz in the Emerald Isle as Maureen does radio and TV Interviews..  She is being honored and recognized by Irelandfor her talent and contribution to the movie industry and her pride in her Irish Heritage....and their pride in her.

The career path of Maureen O'Hara has produced a legacy of fine classic films that have made an indelible mark in screen history. The affection demonstrated for this wonderful actress has endured and remains as strong and constant as Maureen's persona.  From that first day Maureen came to America in 1939,  to her success in the high tech age of Cyberspace, Maureen has remained an elegant lady of talent and beauty.  The "Irish America"  magazine said it best...."It's been a road well traveled."

 Essay copyright 1998, June Parker Beck
Edited 4-20-2011  ©


Filmography:Maureen O'Hara
(bw) = Black and White
(c) = Color


1.   Kicking the Moon Around (1938)** (bw) **This was not a contracted movie for Maureen - she happened to be on the set and did a walk-on.
2.   My Irish Molly (1939 Alliance, Great 
      Britain) (bw)
aka "My Irish Sweetheart" - "My Irish Molly"
Directed by Alex Bryce, starring Binkie Stewart and Maureen O'Hara. Maureen was cast in this film for the camera experience.
3.   Jamaica  Inn (1939 Mayflower, Great 
      Britain) (bw)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara and Robert Newton
4.   The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1940 
      RKO)        (bw)
Directed by William Dieterle. Starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, and Cedwick Hardwicke. 
5.   A Bill of Divorcement (1940 RKO) (bw) Directed by John Farrow.  Starring Adolphe Monjou, Maureen O'Hara and Fay Bainter.
6.   Dance Girl Dance (1940 RKO) (bw) Directed by Dorothy Arzner. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Lucille Ball and Louis Hayward.
7.    They Met in Argentina (1941 Fox) (bw) Directed by Jack Hively and Leslie Goodwins.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, James Ellison, and Buddy Ebsen.
8.    How Green Was My Valley (1941 Fox) 
      (bw)
Directed by John Ford.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Walter Pigeon and Roddy McDowall.
9.    To the Shores of Tripoli (1942 Fox) (c) Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, and Randolph Scott
10.  Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942 Fox) (bw) Directed by Henry Hathaway.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, George Montgomery and John Sutton.
11.  The Black Swan (1942 Fox)Henry King.
       (c)
Directed by Henry King. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Tyrone Power and George Sanders.
12.  This Land is Mine   (1943 RKO) (bw) Directed by Jean Renoir.  Starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara and George Sanders.
13.   The Immortal Sergeant  (1943 Fox) (bw) Directed by John M. Stahl.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Henry Fonda and Thomas Mitchell.
14.   The Fallen Sparrow  (1943 RKO) (bw) Directed by Richard Wallace. Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Garfield and Walter Slezak.
15.   Buffalo Bill   (1944 Fox) (c) Directed by William Wellman.  Starring Joel McCrea, Maureen O'Hara and Linda Darnell
16.   The Spanish Main  (1945 RKO) (c) Directed by Frank Borzage.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Paul Henreid and Walter Slezak.
l7.   Sentimental Journey   (1946 Fox) (bw) Directed by Walter Lang. Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and William Bendix.
18.  Do You Love Me?   (1946  Fox) (c) Directed by Gregory Ratoff.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Dick Haymes and Harry James
19.  Sinbad the Sailor   (1947 RKO) (c) Directed by Richard Wallace, Starring Maureen O'Hara and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Anthony Quinn
20.  The Home Stretch   (1947 Fox) (c) Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Cornel Wilde, and Glenn Langan.
21.  Miracle on 34th Street   (1947 Fox) (bw) Directed by Geo. Seaton.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Joyn Payne and Edmund Gwenn.
22.  The Foxes of Harrow   (1947 Fox) (bw) Directed by John M. Stahl.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Rex Harrison and Victor McLaglen.
23.  Sitting Pretty   (1948 Fox) (bw) Directed by Walter Lang.  Starring Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara and Clifton Webb.
24.  The Forbidden Street    (1949 Fox, 
      Great Britain aka Britania Mews  (bw)
Directed by: John Negluesco. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Dana Andrews and Sybil Thornduke
25.  A Woman's Secret  (1949  RKO) (bw) Directed by Nicholas Ray. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Melvyn Douglas and Gloria Grahame.
26.  Father Was a Fullback (1949 Fox) (bw) Directed by John M. Stahl.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Fred MacMurray and Natalie Wood.
27.  Bagdad  (1949 Universal) (c) Directed by Charles Lamont.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Paul Christian and Vincent Price.
28.  Comanche Territory  (1950 Universal) (c) Directed by George Sherman.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, MacDonald Carey and V. Geer
29.  Tripoli    (1950 Paramount (c) Directed by /Will Price.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Robert DaSilva.
30.  Rio Grande (Republic1950) (bw) Directed by John Ford. Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald
31.  Flame of Araby   (1951 Universal) (c) Directed by: Charles Lamont.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Jeff Chandler and Susan Cabot.
32.  The Quiet Man   (1951 Republic) (c) Directed John Ford.  Starring  Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald.
33.  At Sword's Point   (1952 RKO) (c) Directed by  Lewis Allen.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Cornel Wilde and Dan O'Herlihy.
34.  Kangaroo (1952 Fox) (c) Directed by Lewis Milestone.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Peter Lawford and Richard Boone..
35.  Against All Flags  (1952 Universal) (c) Directed by George Sherman. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Errol Flynn and Anthony Quinn.
36.  The Redhead from Wyoming  (1952 
      Universal) (c)
Directed by Lee Sholem.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Alexander Scourby and Alex Nicol.
37.  War Arrow     (1953 Universal) (c) Directed by George Sherman. Starring Maureen  O'Hara, Jeff Chandler and Susan Ball.
38.   Fire Over Africa   (1954 Columbia)
         Great Britain (c)
Directed by  Richard Sale. Starring Maureen O'Hara, MacDonald Carey & Binnie Barnes.
39.  The Long Gray Line   (1955 Columbia)
    (c)
 Directed by John Ford:  Starring Tyrone Power, Maureen O'Hara and Ward Bond.
40.  The Magnificent Matador   (1955 Fox)
    (c)
Directed by: Bud Boetticher.  Starring Anthony Quinn and Maureen O'Hara
41.  Lady Godiva  (1955 Universal) (c) Directed by Arthur Lubin.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, George Nader and Victor McLaglen.
42.  Lisbon   (1956 Republic) (c) Directed by Ray Milland.  Starring Ray Milland, Maureen O'Hara and Claude Rains.
43.  Everything But the Truth  (1956 Universal)
      (c)
Directed by: Jerry Hopper.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Forsythe and Tim Hovey.
44.  The Wings of Eagles  (1957 MGM) (c) Directed by John Ford.  Starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Dan Dailey.
45.  Our Man in Havana   (1960 Columbia)
       Great Britain (bw)
Directed byCarol Reed.  Starring Alec Guinnes, Maureen O'Hara, and Noel Coward
46.  The Parent Trap   (1961 Disney) (c) Directed by David Swift.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith and Hayley Mills.
47.  The Deadly Companions  (1961
       Pathé-American) (c)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith and Steve Cochran.
48.  Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation   (1962 Fox) (c) Directed by:  Henry Koster.  Starring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara and John 
Saxon.
49.  Spencer's Mountain    (1963  Warner Bros.)    (c) Directed by: Delmer Daves.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Henry Fonda and James MacArthur.
50.  McLintock   (1963 Batjac) (c) Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen.  Starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Stephanie Powers.
51.  Battle of Villa Viorita  (1965 Warner Bros.)   (c) Directed by Delmer Daves.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Rosanno Brazzi and Richard Todd.
52.  The Rare Breed   (1966 Universal) (c) Directed by: Andrew V. McLaglen.  Straring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara Brian Keith.
53.  How Do I Love Thee?  (1970 Cinerama)
       (c)
Directed by: Michael Gordon.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, Jackie Gleason and Shelley Winters.
54.  Big Jake   (1972 National General) (c) Directed by: George Sherman. Starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Richard Boone.
55.  The Red Pony (1973 - Made for TV Movie)  Won the pretigious "Peabody Award) (c) Directed by: Robert Totten.  Starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara and Ben Johnson.
56.  Only the Lonely  (1991 Fox) (c) Directed by Chris Columbus.  Starring Maureen O'Hara, John Candy, and Anthony Quinn.
57.  The Christmas Box (1995 Made for TV 
        Movie - Polson Productions) (c)
Starring Maureen O'Hara, Richard Thomas, Annette O'Toole.
58   Cab to Canada (1998 Made for TV 
      Movie -   Polson Productions) (c)
Starring Maureen O'Hara, Jason Beghe and Catherine Bell.
59.   The Last Dance   (2000 Made for TV Movie  Polson Productions) (Oct. 29th) (c) Starring Maureen O'Hara, Eric Stoltz

List of Maureen O'Hara's TV Credits
from Museum of Radio and Television

Most fans already know that Maureen O'Hara had a wonderful soprano voice. Variety
television gave her a wonderful opportunity to use that talent, as well as acting in wonderful
dramas such as "Mrs. Miniver" - in which she received rave reviews.
(This is by no means a "complete" list, but covers a portion that were documented
in the Museum's archives).  Maureen made multiple appearances on Andy Williams, Perry Como, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Bell Telephone Hour, Dinah Shore, Tennessee Ernie Ford, George Gobel et. al.
that are not documented here.  The shows printed in red on this page "Garry Moore Show - High
Button Shoes" and "Mrs. Miniver" are shows that Maureen herself is seeking video copies, so if anyone
knows of any resources to obtain these - please let me know.