RIP Maureen O'Hara
One of the last remaining true stars of the classic Hollywood era has gone at the age of 95. Irish actress Maureen O'Hara was a woman so stunning looking, with her flame red hair and emerald green eyes, that she was christened "The Queen of Technicolor".
O'Hara was the star of some of my favourite films of all time, many directed by John Ford and cast opposite John Wayne, who said she was hands-down his favourite leading lady and the only actress he regarded as his equal in stature on screen.
As I reflect on her screen career, I'm flabbergasted at just how many of my favourite classic (make that CLASSIC
) films she has appeared in. Off the top of my head I can think of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', 'How Green was My Valley', 'Jamaica Inn', 'Rio Grande', 'Miracle On 34th Street', 'The Black Swan', 'Against All Flags' and many more. She also had the distinction of being the first actress to play the matriarch of the Walton family (renamed Spencer), in the film 'Spencer''s Mountain', Earl Hamner Jr's first attempt at bringing the story of his boyhood to the screen in 1963, and almost a decade before John Boy and the rest of 'The Waltons' hit the small screen.
But towering above all of these performances was her role as the Innisfree firebrand Mary Kate Danaher, in John Ford's masterpiece, 'The Quiet Man', the director's love letter to his native Ireland. Even if this was the only role she had ever played in her life, her status as a screen legend would have been assured. A truly stunning, 24 karat beauty and a terrific actress, very few stars have ever shone so brightly as Maureen O'Hara did and our lives are the richer for her.
A sad day, but definitely a Maureen O'Hara mini festival in my house this Sunday.
A clip from the stunning Blu Ray restoration of 'The Quiet Man', a famous scene that Spielberg recreated in 'E.T.'
Hollywood, as usual, missed the boat, in that O'Hara never received an Oscar during her 56 year screen career. Luckily they managed some belated recognition just before she passed away...