Maureen O'Hara: Seven things you never knew about Ireland's iconic leading lady
Entertainment

Maureen O'Hara: Seven things you never knew about Ireland's iconic leading lady

LEGENDARY Irish actress Maureen O'Hara lit up Hollywood for decades, portraying strong, fearless women in a number of classics.

From her leading role in the 1947 Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street to her performance alongside John Wayne in 1952's iconic Irish love-story The Quiet Man, O'Hara earned the nickname the 'Queen of Technicolor' for her ability to light up the silver screen.

Born Maureen FitzSimons in Churchtown - then a suburb - now a part of metropolitan of Dublin, on August 17, 1920, O'Hara was raised as one of six at 32 Upper Beechwood Avenue in Ranelagh.

Talent was in her blood - Maureen's mother Marguerita was a well-known opera singer, and her father Charles owned a string of soccer teams including her beloved Shamrock Rovers.

To celebrate the life of one of Ireland's greatest daughters, here are 8 little-known facts about Maureen O'Hara...

Advertisement

1. A GYPSY’S PREDICTION

With her parents Charles and Marguerita on This Is Your Life in 1957 (Image: YouTube)

According to her 2004 autobiography, 'Tis Herself, at the age of 5 a Gypsy told Maureen "You will leave Ireland one day and become a very famous woman known all around the world".

Just 13 years later she would star in her first film, the 1938 low-budget musical My Irish Molly - the only picture she made under her real name, Maureen FitzSimons.

She would go on to be awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7004 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.

2. NAME CHANGE

Advertisement

Maureen was born Maureen FitzSimons in Dublin in 1920 (Image: Getty)

Maureen FitzSimons was brought to Hollywood in the late 1930s by legendary actor, director and producer Charles Laughton - who originally signed her to a personal services performing contract.

The contract meant she was signed to Laughton instead of a studio, as was common at the time.

Laughton thought the unusual spelling of her last name would be a problem for her career, so she was given the choice of O'Hara or O'Mara.

3. PROUD IRISHWOMAN

Advertisement
Filming 1952's Irish classic The Quiet Man (Image: YouTube)

O'Hara 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 a citizen as Irish.

This led to a change in process for all Irish immigrants.

4. BEST FRIEND

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara starred together in five films overall (Image: Getty)
Advertisement

Maureen starred with John Wayne in five films - Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Wings of Eagles (1957), McLintock! (1963) and Big Jake (1971) - always as his wife or love-interest.

Off-screen, the pair remained the best of pals, and Wayne considered her the only woman he ever thought of as a real friend. In her Carribean holiday home, Maureen even had a wing she called the 'John Wayne Wing' because he stayed there when visiting.

When Wayne lay dying in his hospital bed in 1979, he watched on TV as Maureen petitioned Congress to give him a Congressional Gold Medal - which they did by a unanimous vote.

5. OTHER TALENTS

The iconic Irishwoman was a talented typist and successful publisher (Image: Getty)

Maureen performed many of her own stunts in her films, rare for an actress at that time.

Advertisement

She was also a talented typist and even typed some of her own scripts and rewrites in later life.

After retiring, she enjoyed a second career as a successful magazine publisher - one of the reasons was to help keep her from becoming bored, which we can all understand.

6. STAUNCH CONSERVATIVE

Maureen O'Hara supported the Republican Party for decades (Image: File)

Maureen was a staunch conservative Republican throughout her time living in the United States.

She supported the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush while a US citizen.

Advertisement

Whether she would have voted for Donald Trump, however, shall remain a mystery forever - thankfully.

7. SURVIVOR

Maureen O'Hara [1920-2015] in later life (Picture: Getty Images)
Maureen was the last credited cast member of 1947's Miracle on 34th Street to pass away on October 24, 2015.

She is buried at Arlington Cemetery, besides her late husband Charles Blair - who died just months before best friend John Wayne in September 1978.

She was 95 years old.

Advertisement