by Martin Hafer
Maureen O'Hara passed away on Saturday at the age of 95. Not surprisingly, this beautiful lady was born in Ireland and came to the States in 1939 to make The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In this any her many subsequent films, she was a completely unique sort of movie star and the movie world is a better place for having known her and her many talents. I say unique because she had the unusual knack of playing very strong-willed but still very feminine ladies--the sorts of parts her contemporaries just couldn't match. She was perfectly cast in many of the classic films of John Ford such as Wings of Eagles, The Quiet Man and Rio Grande where she was cast alongside John Wayne, as they were a perfect on-screen match. She also will be remembered for great family films such as Miracle on 34th Street and The Parent Trap. Later in her career, Maureen slowed down a bit but still managed to make a few wonderful television appearances, such as in The Christmas Box and The Last Dance--the last of which she made when she was still going very strong at 80 years of age. Surprisingly, Ms. O'Hara only one a single Oscar--an honorary one given to her this year for her amazing body of film work.
I feel fortunate that I was able to see Ms. O'Hara up close and in person at the Turner Classic Movie Festival a year and a half ago. I got there very early in order to sit in the front of the theater--only a few feet from one of my all-time favorites. Though well into her 90s, I'll long remember this appearance because although she was well into her well-earned retirement, she still insisted on being there--wheelchair notwithstanding and they arranged a special flight from her home in Idaho to get her there. She was still one spunky lady when she helped Robert Osborne to introduce her classic (and my personal favorite) How Green Was My Valley and the night was simply magical. When asked during this interview what she was most proud of, however, she said that it was her daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and that brought a tear to many of our eyes. My thoughts and prayers are with them and we know she will be sorely missed.
Images © 2014 Martin HaferShare: