While the passage of time is always good for giving the world advancements and new forms of entertainment, it also means that we’re forced to say goodbye to the gems of years past. Such is the case today, as the ginger-haired Hollywood starlet Maureen O’Hara has died. She was 95 years old.
The Ireland-born O’Hara passed away in her sleep at her Boise, Idaho home due to natural causes, according to the Irish Times. That sounds like the proper way for such a class act to bow out.
For many, O’Hara will be most remembered for her work with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne, perhaps best exemplified in the 1952 film The Quiet Man, which O’Hara considered her personal favorite film. And for good reason. In fact, according to a statement her family released, here’s how the actress spent her final minutes.
She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, The Quiet Man.
Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1920 as Maureen FitzSimons, O’Hara was the second oldest of six children and she and her siblings were trained at the Abbey Theatre. Her early career saw her in such works as 1939’s Jamaica Inn and as Esmeralda in William Dieterle’s 1939 drama The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This landed her roles in such highly regarded movies as Ford’s 1941 Best Picture winner How Green Was My Valley, Dorothy Arzner’s 1940 drama Dance, Girl, Dance, George Seaton’s 1947 Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street and David Swift's 1961 comedy classic The Parent Trap. Her films with John Wayne include the aforementioned Quiet Man, 1950’s Rio Grande, 1957’s The Wings of Eagles, 1963’s McLintock! and 1971’s Big Jake. And, of course, there were dozens of other examples of the actress’ work to be found elsewhere, and that includes numerous TV movies.
It was after Big Jake and her marriage to third husband Charles F. Blair, Jr. that O’Hara retired from acting for a while, later becoming the CEO and president of the U.S. Virgin Islands airline Antilles Air Boats, which he husband ran before his death in 1978. She returned to acting in 1991 for Chris Columbus’ Only the Lonely opposite John Candy, but that was it for the big screen.
Last year, O’Hara received an Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy in 2004. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame years ago and was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame in 2011. She also penned an autobiography, ’Tis Herself, in 2004. Because she often visited John Wayne’s hometown in Iowa, the governor declared May 25, 2013 as "Maureen O’Hara Day," and there was a tribute celebration.
An honorable and admirable actress throughout all her life, Maureen O’Hara will truly be missed. We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to her family in their time of mourning.