Tribute: Maureen O’Hara

Posted on October 26, 2015 at 8:00 am

We mourn the loss of one of the great stars of the golden age of Hollywood, Maureen O’Hara. The Irish-born actress was made for technicolor. Her fiery hair, creamy skin, and green eyes made her an icon of classic films, many of them opposite John Wayne. Their storm-swept kiss in “The Quiet Man” is such a classic moment that Steven Spielberg appropriated it for a scene in “E.T.”

In the Washington Post, Adam Bernstein wrote:

Ms. O’Hara’s endurance was often ascribed to the feisty intelligence she projected onscreen as well as her undeniable beauty. Her porcelain skin, green-hazel eyes, coltish jaw and cheekbones, and cascading red hair photographed superbly from any angle. She was promoted as the “queen of Technicolor” — a motion picture process much in vogue in the 1940s and 1950s.

Trained in fencing and fond of doing her own stunt work, she held her own in swashbucklers opposite Errol Flynn (“Against All Flags,” 1952) and Tyrone Power (“The Black Swan,” 1942). Those and other adventure yarns set the template for Ms. O’Hara’s screen persona: an independent-minded woman who knew her way around a sword.

She is most often remembered for her films with John Wayne, but she starred in a wide variety of classics, from the original “Parent Trap” to the original “Miracle on 34th Street” and the Oscar-winning “How Green Was My Valley.” She was superb in costume dramas, doing her own stunts in swashbucklers like “The Spanish Main” with Paul Henreid, “Sinbad the Sailor” with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., “At Sword’s Point” with Cornel Wilde, and “Against All Flags” with Errol Flynn. She was a superb light comedienne in “Sitting Pretty” and, opposite James Stewart, in “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” and touching as the beloved of Quasimodo in “Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Her grace and beauty were matched by her talent, wit, and charm. May her memory be a blessing.

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