Edit
Maureen O'Hara Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (38) | Personal Quotes (15) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 17 August 1920Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland (now Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland)
Birth NameMaureen FitzSimons
Nicknames Big Red
The Pirate Queen
The Queen of Technicolor
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

In America, the early performing arts accomplishments of young Maureen FitzSimons (who we know as Maureen O'Hara) would definitely have put her in the child prodigy category. However, for a child of Irish heritage surrounded by gifted parents and family, these were very natural traits. Maureen made her entrance into this caring haven on August 17, 1920, in Ranelagh (a suburb of Dublin), Ireland. Her mother, Marguerita Lilburn FitzSimons, was an accomplished contralto. Her father, Charles FitzSimons, managed a business in Dublin and also owned part of the renowned Irish soccer team "The Shamrock Rovers". Maureen was the second of six FitzSimons children - Peggy, Florrie Charles F. FitzSimons, Margot Fitzsimons and James O'Hara completed this beautiful family.

Maureen loved playing rough athletic games as a child and excelled in sports. She combined this interest with an equally natural gift for performing. This was demonstrated by her winning pretty much every Feis award for drama and theatrical performing her country offered. By age 14 she was accepted to the prestigious Abbey Theater and pursued her dream of classical theater and operatic singing. This course was to be altered, however, when Charles Laughton, after seeing a screen test of Maureen, became mesmerized by her hauntingly beautiful eyes. Before casting her to star in Jamaica Inn (1939), Laughton and his partner, Erich Pommer, changed her name from Maureen FitzSimons to "Maureen O'Hara" - a bit shorter last name for the marquee.

Under contract to Laughton, Maureen's next picture was to be filmed in America (The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)) at RKO Pictures. The epic film was an extraordinary success and Maureen's contract was eventually bought from Laughton by RKO. At 19, Maureen had already starred in two major motion pictures with Laughton. Unlike most stars of her era, she started at the top, and remained there - with her skills and talents only getting better and better with the passing years.

Maureen has an enviable string of all-time classics to her credit that include the aforementioned "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", How Green Was My Valley (1941), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Sitting Pretty (1948), The Quiet Man (1952), The Parent Trap (1961) and McLintock! (1963). Add to this the distinction of being voted one of the five most beautiful women in the world and you have a film star who was as gorgeous as she was talented.

Although at times early in her career Hollywood didn't seem to notice, there was much more to Maureen O'Hara than her dynamic beauty. She not only had a wonderful lyric soprano voice, but she could use her inherent athletic ability to perform physical feats that most actresses couldn't begin to attempt, from fencing to fisticuffs. She was a natural athlete.

In her career Maureen starred with some of Hollywood's most dashing leading men, including Tyrone Power, John Payne, Rex Harrison, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Brian Keith, Sir Alec Guinness and, of course, her famed pairings with "The Duke" himself, John Wayne. She starred in five films with Wayne, the most beloved being The Quiet Man (1952).

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

In 1968 Maureen found much deserved personal happiness when she married Charles Blair. Gen. Blair was a famous aviator whom she had known as a friend of her family for many years. A new career began for Maureen, that of a full-time wife. Her marriage to Blair, however, was again far from typical. Blair was the real-life version of what John Wayne had been on the screen. He had been a Brigadier General in the Air Force, a Senior Pilot with Pan American, and held many incredible record-breaking aeronautic achievements. Maureen happily retired from films in 1973 after making the TV movie The Red Pony (1973) (which won the prestigious Peabody Award for Excellence) with Henry Fonda. With Blair, Maureen managed Antilles Airboats, a commuter sea plane service in the Caribbean. She not only made trips around the world with her pilot husband, but owned and published a magazine, "The Virgin Islander", writing a monthly column called "Maureen O'Hara Says".

Tragically, Charles Blair died in a plane crash in 1978. Though completely devastated, Maureen pulled herself together and, with memories of ten of the happiest years of her life, continued on. She was elected President and CEO of Antilles Airboats, which brought her the distinction of being the first woman president of a scheduled airline in the United States.

Maureen now lives quite happily in retirement in a home near her grandson and his family in Boise, Idaho. Fortunately, she was coaxed out of retirement several times--once in 1991 to star with John Candy in Only the Lonely (1991) and again, in 1995, in a made-for-TV movie, The Christmas Box (1995) on CBS. In the spring of 1998, Maureen accepted the second of what would be three projects for Polson Productions and CBS: Cab to Canada (1998) - and, in October, 2000, The Last Dance (2000).

On November 4, 2014 Maureen was honored by a long overdue Oscar for "Lifetime Achievement" at the annual Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Awards.

Maureen O'Hara is still absolutely stunning, with that trademark red hair, dazzling smile and those huge, expressive eyes. She has fans from all over the world of all ages who are utterly devoted to her legacy of films and her persona as a strong, courageous and intelligent woman.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: June Parker Beck/edited by Maureen O'Hara

Spouse (3)

Charles F. Blair (11 March 1968 - 2 September 1978) (his death)
Will Price (29 December 1941 - 11 August 1953) (divorced) (1 child)
George H. Brown (12 June 1939 - 15 September 1941) (annulled)

Trade Mark (5)

Red Hair
Queen of Technicolor
Often worked with Director John Ford
Often starred with John Wayne
Usually played proud, strong-willing and tempermental Irish lasses

Trivia (38)

Siblings: Peggy (a Sisters of Charity nun); TV/film producer Charles B. Fitzsimons (now deceased); actress Florrie Clare Hamilton (now deceased); Margot Fitzsimons Edwards; and actor James FitzSimons, aka James Lilburn/James O'Hara/Jim O'Hara (now deceased).
Crack typist who typed some of her own scripts/rewrites.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1993.
Gave birth to her only child at age 23, a daughter Bronwyn Brigid Price (aka Bronwyn FitzSimons) on June 30, 1944. Child's father is her 2nd ex-husband, William Houston Price (aka Will Price).
Did many of her own stunts in her films.
Brought to Hollywoood by actor Charles Laughton.
Starred with John Wayne in 5 movies: Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jake (1971). In all five, Wayne and O'Hara played husband and wife and, in all five, they were estranged at least briefly. The first three were directed by John Ford.
A favorite of director John Ford.
She was the first choice to play Anna in the film version of The King and I (1956) but Richard Rodgers did not want the role played by a "pirate queen".
She was having lunch with actress Lucille Ball the moment Lucy first saw Cuban musician Desi Arnaz, whom she later married.
She is the only credited cast member of Miracle on 34th Street (1947) who is still alive.
She was born in Churchtown, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland.
She is portrayed by Liane Langland in Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter (1991).
She and John Wayne remained friends until his death. In her home on St. Croix, she had a wing she called the John Wayne Wing because he stayed there when visiting. It was badly damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, some ten years after Wayne's death.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Lidia Simoneschi. She was occasionally dubbed by Dhia Cristiani, most notably in Sitting Pretty (1948); by Rosetta Calavetta and once by Paola Barbara in the multi Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley (1941).
She made headlines in 1997 by claiming that Brian Keith's suicide, while suffering from lung cancer and emphysema and mourning the suicide of his daughter, was an accident.
She was made a Fellow of the British Film Institute in recognition of her outstanding contribution to film culture.
She became an American citizen on January 25, 1946 but has retained her Irish citizenship. It was the first time in history that the United States government recognized an Irish citizen as Irish. This led to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.
Was originally cast as Isabel Bradley in The Razor's Edge (1946) but was taken off by Darryl F. Zanuck she was replaced by Gene Tierney, Zanuck would soon cast her in the classic Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
Grandmother of C. Beau Fitzsimons.
In the early 1940s was one of the actresses invited to the White House for a benefit dinner. She sat right next to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Had a second career after retiring, as a successful magazine publisher; one of the reasons was to help keep her from becoming bored after retirement.
Lost her husband Charles Blair and her best friend John Wayne within months of each other.
Was John Wayne's favorite actress and he considered her a real friend, the only woman he thought of in that way. When he lay dying in his hospital bed, he watched on television as Maureen petitioned Congress to give him a Congressional Gold Medal, which they did by a unanimous vote.
As one of six, Maureen was raised with her siblings at 32 Upper Beechwood Avenue in Dublin's Ranelagh district.
She is a staunch conservative Republican and over time has supported the Presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush.
After being signed by Erich Pommer and Charles Laughton, it was thought that the unusual spelling of her last name--FitzSimons--would be a problem, so they gave her the choice of O'Hara or O'Mara.
Received an honorary doctorate from University College in Galway in 1988.
Earned a degree at the Guild School of Music in Londion and became part of the Abbey Theater in Dublin when she was 14, winning the All-Ireland Cup at 16 for her portrayal of Portia in "The Merchant of Venice.".
Acting mentor was Charles Laughton.
Boise, Idaho: Living with her grandson, C. Beau Fitzsimons, and his family. [May 2013]
On a promotion tour across the U.S. in connection with her 2004 autobiography, "'Tis Herself." [March 2004]
Appeared at Macy's department store on 34th Street in New York City to promote her new book. Macy's was the main setting for one of her best-known films, from 57 years before: Miracle on 34th Street (1947)). [March 2004]
Her first screen test was for a 1938 British film called The Playboy (1938) at Elstree Studios, It was arranged by American bandleader Harry Richman, who was then appearing in Dublin. Despite her hating the experience ("I looked like Mata Hari") and Charles Laughton's opinion that it was awful, he signed her to a contract. RKO later purchased her contract from him and later sold part of it to 20th Century-Fox.
She is the second actress, after Myrna Loy (in 1991), to receive an honorary Academy Award without ever having been nominated previously.

Personal Quotes (15)

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.
To the people throughout the world, John Wayne is not just an actor, and a very fine actor - John Wayne is the United States of America.
Charles Laughton and his wife, Elsa Lanchester, were never blessed with children. Years after he died, Elsa wrote her autobiography and claimed they never had children because Laughton was homosexual. That's rubbish. Whether or nor Laughton was gay would never have stopped him from having children. He wanted them too badly. Laughton told me the reason they never had children was because Elsa couldn't conceive, the result of a botched abortion she'd had during her earlier days in burlesque. Laughton told me many times that not being a father was his greatest disappointment in life.
I was talking to a director I knew and [John Ford] just turned around and punched me on the jaw. There was no reason or explanation, and I walked straight out of the house and vowed I'd never speak to him again. Of course, I did, but it took a while. He never apologized and I never found out why he hit me.
[on John Ford] I think he was a bitterly disappointed man. More than anything he wanted to be in Ireland or be a military hero. So every so often his anger would spill out and whoever was closest got the brunt of his anger.
I'm very lucky I really had some wonderful movies.
[About John Ford's style of directing) Today most directors--not all, but most directors--are in another room watching the actors on a television screen. There are no no connections with the actors, which is a shame, because John Ford connected with his cast.
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.
Comedy is quite difficult, you have to be able to have fun and portray that sense of fun to the audience watching you.
[on John Garfield]: He was my shortest leading man, an outspoken Communist and a real sweetheart.
I spent a great deal of time with Ernesto 'Che' Guevara while I was in Havana. I feel he was less a mercenary than he was a freedom fighter.
[reacting to the heavy make-up she had to wear for her first screen test] I looked like Mata Hari!
I made John Wayne sexy. I take credit for that.
[her advice to young people wanting a career in drama - 2010] If you really want it, go after it--and learn how to speak properly, for God's sake!
[When being handed her honorary Oscar] I only hope it's silver or gold and not like a spoon out of the kitchen.

Salary (1)

Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) $12,400

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page