“Above all else, deep in my soul, I’m a tough Irishwoman.” –Maureen O’Hara
Perhaps the most famous redhead in the world, actress Maureen O’Hara (born Maureen Fitzsimons) is born in Dublin. O’Hara is probably most famous for her role in John Ford’s The Quiet Man where she played opposite John Wayne.
Blessed with fiery red hair and flashing green eyes, Maureen O’Hara’s stunning looks led Hollywood to dub her the “Queen of Technicolor.” However, her onscreen roles often mirrored her true persona: a tough, courageous woman trying to survive in, as she put it, an “absurdly masculine” world. In fact, her friend and frequent co-star John Wayne called her the “greatest guy he ever knew.”
She published her unapologetically frank autobiography, “Tis Herself”: she writes, “I have often said that “The Quiet Man” is my personal favourite of all the pictures I have made. It is the one I am most proud of, and I tend to be very protective of it.” The wonderfully entertaining movie is an over the top stereotypical portrayal of Ireland that existed in John Ford’s imagination. It can also be claimed that it is probably the best advertising and promotional vehicle ever of Ireland.
Other movies include Miracle on 34th Street, Rio Grande, The Long Gray Line and Our Man in Havana.
In 2011, O’Hara was formally inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame at an event in New Ross, Co Wexford. She was also named president of the Universal Film and Festival Organisation (UFFO) which promotes a code of conduct for film festivals and the film industry.
In 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected O’Hara to receive the Academy’s Honorary Oscar, presented at the annual Governor’s Awards in November. O’Hara became the second actress, after Myrna Loy in 1991, to receive an Honorary Oscar without having previously been nominated for an Oscar in a competitive category.
The legendary screen star died on 24 October 2015 of natural causes at her home in Boise, Idaho.
Photo: Maureen O’hara as Lady Godiva of Coventry in 1955