There are so few classic film actors still with us, and today we are sad to announce the passing of yet another gem. Maureen O’Hara, the starlet dubbed “The Queen of Technicolor”, died comfortably in her Idaho home on Saturday at the age of 95.
O’Hara was an Irish beauty known for her bold and fierce female leads in films that still resonate with audiences today, like Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man. Her dozens of iconic feature film roles, many of which paired her with western legend John Wayne, helped to solidify Maureen O’Hara as a silver screen legend.
Maureen O’Hara was born Maureen Fitzsimmons on August 17, 1920, and was raised in Dublin Ireland in the Ranelagh district. O’Hara’s acting career began in 1938 with screen tests in London, eventually leading to her first major feature film roles in Kicking the Moon Around, My Irish Molly and Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn for Mayflower Pictures. It was the co-founder of that studio, actor Charles Laughton, whose early interest in O’Hara launched her career. He also convinced her to adopt the stage name of O’Hara.
O’Hara would go on to star in dozens of noteworthy films over the years, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Black Swan, Miracle on 34th Street, Tripoli, The Parent Trap and Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.
When movies transitioned from black and white features into Technicolor, Maureen O’Hara really shined on-screen, due to her vibrant red hair and stunning green eyes. She was such a perfect showcase for the technology that the developed of Technicolor, Dr. Herbert Kalmus, dubbed her “The Queen of Technicolor”.
Maureen took a break from acting for twenty years, from 1971 to 1991, until returning for the John Candy comedy Only the Lonely.
Maureen would earn a number of accolades over the course of her extensive career, including the Heritage Award, Irish American of the Year and the Irish America Hall of Fame. In fact, she even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame. Although she starred in films that received Academy Awards, she was never herself nominated. The Academy corrected this error in 2014 when Maureen was given an Honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
O’Hara’s family issued the following statement on Saturday:
“It is with a sad heart that we share the news that Maureen O’Hara passed away today in her sleep of natural causes. Maureen was our loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She passed peacefully surrounded by her loving family as they celebrated her life listening to music from her favorite movie, The Quiet Man.”
The Quiet Man was, of course, one of the five films in which she portrayed the love interest of legendary actor John Wayne on-screen. O’Hara loved working with Wayne and between 1948 and 1972 the duo made great films like Rio Grande, Big Jake, McLintock! and The Wings of Eagles.
O’Hara’s family went on to say:
“Her characters were feisty and fearless, just as she was in real life. She was also proudly Irish and spent her entire lifetime sharing her heritage and the wonderful culture of the Emerald Isle with the world.”
Maureen O’Hara is survived by her daughter Brownwyn and grandson and great-grandchildren. All of us here at Screen Rant would like to offer our sincerest condolences to her family and friends.