A great Irish lady, a beloved film actress in her native
land and here in the United States as well as all around
the world, a fine singer of the songs of land of her birth,
and a gleaming icon, Maureen O'Hara, passed away on
October 24 at the age of 95. She had blazed an indelible
trail from Dublin to Hollywood, leaving a grand legacy
as an entertainer, a businesswoman, and as a person who
gave back to the arts which made her a star.
Your ever-lovin' Peasant being a big film fan, Maureen
O'Hara was my very favorite actress, having made cinematic
magic with my very favorite actor, John Wayne, giving me
as they did millions of other movie lovers adventurous and
romantic thrills to last many lifetimes; ever since I first
saw this gorgeous red-haired spitfire in a movie during
my boyhood I had a huge crush on her! Before Diana
Rigg, Lynda Carter, Elizabeth Hurley and Lucy Lawless,
Maureen O'Hara was the gold standard for stunningly
gorgeous actresses! Even in her final years she still
commanded attention for her exquisite features!
Born Maureen FitzSimons on August 17, 1920, she caught
the acting bug early in life; her mother was a noted stage
actress and had been a great influence. After taking acting
lessons, O'Hara went for a screen test. Although it was not
successful, famed British actor Charles Laughton saw some-
thing in the fiery red-head and arranged for her to appear
with him in the 1939 film Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred
Hitchcock. O'Hara would later join her benefactor in
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was released that same
year. From there, O'Hara would receive many film offers, and
went on to build her incredible career.
Having been in movies with the other greats of the day, such
as Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Douglas
Fairbanks, Jr., and a very young Natalie Wood (appearing
together in the charming Christmas story A Miracle on 34th Street),
O'Hara is most closely associated with iconic American
actor John Wayne, having co-starred in Irish classic
The Quiet Man (1952) as well as several fine westerns,
many made by legendary Irish-American director John Ford
(who also directed The Quiet Man). O'Hara loved her adopted
country as much as her native one, and she especially loved
appearing in movies with Wayne, the actor who most closely
represented American strength, determination, decency, and
O'Hara would also receive an honorary Oscar in 2014, only the
second actress (after Myrna Loy) to receive one having never
been nominated for an Oscar. A slight beautifully rectified by
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!
Married three times, her third marriage was her happiest, her
husband being retired Air Force General Charles F. Blair Jr.
who was a noted pioneer of transatlantic aviation and CEO of
the U.S. Virgin islands-based airline Antilles Air Boats.
Upon his death in a plane crash due to engine failure, O'Hara
was elected to succeed her husband as the CEO and President
of the airline, making her the first woman to be the president of
a scheduled airline in the U.S.
When her long-time colleague and close friend John Wayne died
in 1979, O'Hara addressed Congress urging them to honor Wayne
with a Congressional medal awarded to American civilians for
their endeavors in a field which benefit the country and her people.
Wayne's movies exemplified the American spirit which helped make
our country and our way of life, and O'Hara pointed this out with
great pride and love. The medal was soon after cast.
In her eighties O'Hara wrote her autobiography, " 'Tis Herself",
in which she shared events and other tidbits about herself that
even her most die-hard fans (like your favorite Peasant) never
had an inkling of. A wonderful book for fans, both of Maureen
O'Hara and of movies!
A remarkable actress, a remarkable woman with fiery passions both
on and off the silver screen, Maureen O'Hara made her native Ireland
and her adopted country the United States proud to claim her as their
own. This dual citizen of these great countries, this queen of the
big screen, this unforgettable lady is now reunited with her husband,
with her old friend John Wayne, and with many other relations,
friends, and colleagues in perfect peace. Rest in peace, lovely
Irish rose, in the Land of Peace Unending.