Rest in Peace, Maureen O’Hara


She had a helluva life, and a long one too. We should all be so lucky.

56 replies
  1. 1
    mellowjohn says:

    and no patty fingers in the holy water!

  2. 2
    max says:


    What crappy news.

    [‘I am so bummed.’]

  3. 3

    TCM has teamed up with Fathom Events to do in-theater simulcasts of classic movies, and one of O’Hara’s best will be playing on 12/20 and 12/23 — “Miracle on 34th Street.”

  4. 4


    Two women in the house, and one of them a redhead.

    Barry Fitzgerald got all the best lines in that movie.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    Spectacular woman, and seemed to be mentally sharp well into old age.

    A life well lived. RIP Maureen. She was gorgeous.

  6. 6
    bemused says:

    O’Hara was Jane swimming nude with Weissmuller in Tarzan jungle river scene. Pretty risque for the 30’s.

  7. 7
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Drove across the state today with two of my sisters to visit our mother’s grave. We buried her somewhere else by accident but she would understand.
    We brought some of her ashes and sprinkled them in a cold downpour.
    And kinda cried.
    Going today to visit 98 year old grandma and order her to heal that broken hip and quit laying around in bed.

  8. 8

    Miracle on 34th Street and Parent Trap are two of my favorites. I think my dad has a little crush and watches the Quiet Man more for her than his man The Duke.

  9. 9


    Sorry, wrong Maureen — that was Maureen O’Sullivan, who was Mia Farrow’s mother.

    And nudity wasn’t all that uncommon in Hollywood films between 1929 and 1934, which is why there was a major censorship crackdown in July of 1934. You can read a little about it on my neglected blog — click on my name above.

  10. 10
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    RIP. Her character in Only The Lonely could have been one of my aunts. Interesting that she pretty much (IIRC?) came out of retirement to play such an unlikeable character.

    @bemused: I thought that was Maureen O’Sullivan?
    ETA: “Maureen O’Sullivan, who was Mia Farrow’s mother.” forgot that bit of Hollywood history

  11. 11
    Debbie says:

    How Green Is My Valley and The Quiet Man are my favorite Maureen O’Hara movies. She was a real force to be reckoned with.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    Just this morning, before hearing the news, I had been looking at a New Yorker video essay on O’Hara and Lucille Ball in the 1940 movie, “Dance, Girl, Dance.”

    A very interesting and talented actress. This also reminds me that although I love Alfred Hitchcock, I have never seen “Jamaica Inn,” which features O’Hara.

    And along with her many more notable roles, I remember the very nice turn she did in the 1991 film, “Only the Lonely,” with John Candy. She was very generous in her comments about him:

    “John Candy was one of my all-time favorite leading men. He was pleasant and courteous. The depth of John Candy’s talent did surprise me. I didn’t expect it to be so great. It didn’t take long for me to see that he was not only a comedic genius but an actor with an extraordinary dramatic talent. He reminded me a great deal of Charles Laughton.”

    I also love her comment about the film “Lisbon.”

    “A Republic melodrama, full of mystery, international intrigue, and murder. For the first time in my career I got to play the villain, and Bette Davis was right – bitches are fun to play.”

  13. 13
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne (tablet): Still one of my favorite movies. Great performances from everyone.

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    I can’t believe Rhett Butler treated her so cavalierly.

  15. 15
    shell says:

    Oh no!

    Oh shit!

  16. 16

    Favorites: Miracle, Quiet Man, Rare Breed

  17. 17


    FWIW, “Jamaica Inn” is definitely lesser Hitchcock. He was trying to leave England to start his contract with David O. Selznick in Hollywood and he didn’t get along well with Charles Laughton. You can tell from the film that he was just marking time to get it done.

  18. 18
    shell says:

    ‘ Like the sight of a girl coming through the fields with the sun on her hair… kneeling in church with a face like a saint…’

  19. 19
    shell says:

    ‘Miracle’ is one of my favorites too (Less said about the Attenborough version, the better.) The only thing is the distraction of O’Hara’s shoulder pads on her business suit. Planes could take off from those things.

  20. 20
    Emma says:

    Well, damn.

    Thornton: If anybody had told me six months ago that today I’d be in a graveyard in Innisfree with a girl like you that I’m just about to kiss, I’d have told ’em…

    Mary Kate Danaher: Oh, but the kisses are a long way off yet!

    Thornton: Huh?

    Mary Kate Danaher: Well, we just started a-courtin’, and next month, we, we start the walkin’ out, and the month after that there’ll be the threshin’ parties, and the month after that…

    Thornton: Nope.

    Mary Kate Danaher: Well, maybe we won’t have to wait that month…

    Thornton: Yup.

    Mary Kate Danaher: …or for the threshin’ parties…

    Thornton: Nope.

    Mary Kate Danaher: …or for the walkin’ out together…

    Thornton: No.

    Mary Kate Danaher: …and so much the worse for you, Sean Thornton, for I feel the same way about it myself!

    [They kiss. Thunder rolls]

  21. 21
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: My condolences. Let yourselves grieve, as long as it takes. I lost my mom a year and a half ago, and I’m not remotely over it — maybe I never will be. Is your grandma your mom’s mom? My mom’s mom is still with us, and spending time with her has helped both of us heal a bit, I think.

  22. 22
    bemused says:

    @Mnemosyne (tablet)

    Oops. Thanks for the correction.

    I hope TCM plans to air O’Hara movies sooner than Dec now.

  23. 23
    shell says:

    And Betty, that is one lovely photo.

  24. 24
    PaulW says:


    The Quiet Man is one of my favorite movies EVER.

    She is the most beautiful redhead Hollywood ever had.

    Good God.

    :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

  25. 25
    bystander says:

    Her autobiography raised a lot of eyebrows. She writes that Richard Boone and Peter Lawford were caught in a male brothel in Australia during the filming of some movie. John Ford would sit around doodling penises. Maureen had much to say.

    Miracle on 34th and How Green, at her most beautiful.

  26. 26
    PaulW says:

    Impetuous! HOMERIC!

    Every movie she made with John Wayne were epics.

    You can’t imagine any other woman who could go 12 rounds in a fight with him.

  27. 27
    cckids says:

    @Betty Cracker: I know, Betty. My dad died shortly after your mom, and today’s his birthday. So I’m missing him a bit more.

    Strangely, I find myself missing him more this year than right after he passed. He’d been sick for so long (leukemia), and was so tired & really ready to go; he’d changed dramatically. But with the passing of time, that change of personality has receded & I’m remembering him as he was before he got sick – full of energy & ideas, always fixing or making something, so patient & loving with his grandkids. You’re right, I think there’s grief that never goes away.

    Anne Lamott has this quote, which I love & frequently return to:

    “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

  28. 28
    Satby says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Of course she would understand. Take care of yourself.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    Look forward to TCM’s eventual tribute to her. She’s a favorite of theirs, too, and appeared on behalf of the channel in recent years.

  30. 30
    Big ole hound says:

    My first true love as a high school freshman in ’57.

  31. 31
    Satby says:

    @cckids: Mine died 27 years ago and I still mark his birthday. He would only have turned 81 last week. It does get better, as Uncle Joe says. And that Lamott quote is a keeper, thanks!

  32. 32
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Ah, this is very sad news. Damn, she was gorgeous, and a fine, fine actor. Nobody played “feisty” better.

    Her family said in a statement: “For those who may ask what they can do to honour Maureen, we have a simple request: visit Ireland one day and think of her.”

    I think I’ll do just that.


  33. 33
    raven says:

    @PaulW: Really, have you seen him with Kate?

  34. 34
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    Thanks. Family has been a great comfort.
    Grandma is dad’s mom and the broken hip is her first serious injury.
    Cousin Jim here in town is a Physical Therapist who will make sure she recovers.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Condolences. And a cold downpour too? Ouch.

    It’s great that your mother was so loved.

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne (tablet): I think I had a DVD of “Jamaica Inn,” but couldn’t get through it because the video transfer was horrible. Otherwise, I’ve seen almost all of his film’s and think that even “lesser works” can often be of value in learning about a film maker’s work.

    I get buried in work, and don’t keep up on some cinema related stuff. I just recently found out about the documentary about Hitchcock and Truffaut, which illuminates the wonderful interview collected into a book. I gotta track this down.

    A little more on Maureen O’Hara. By chance I ran across a totally enjoyable 1954 film in which she played a spy, “Fire Over Africa.” A very interesting female centered movie in which MacDonald Carey largely plays “the girl,” i.e., the love interest. A minor film, but a little gem, and a nice antidote to the crappy TV show, Agent Carter (good actors, lame tv show).

  37. 37
    Juju says:

    @Betty Cracker: You never get over the death of a loved one. You just learn to deal with it differently through time. My dad was killed in an accident in 1992, and sometimes it feels like it was a long time ago, and other times it feels like it could have been yesterday. Sometimes thinking of him makes me smile and even laugh and sometimes my eyes still well up with tears. Sometimes it’s both, like my niece’s high school graduation. Over time, you learn to cope and it does get easier, but it can still hurt.

    There was an older gentleman who ran a family tire business, and after he lost his wife of 60 years, seemed to like to talk to me when I came in for car work. I think I reminded him a bit of his wife, we both had red hair, green eyes and fair skin. He told me, and I have found it to be comforting and true, that no matter how long you’ve had with someone you love, it’s never enough time.

  38. 38
    Juju says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: that is such a nice thought. I think I just started saving for that trip to Ireland.

  39. 39
    Elizabelle says:

    OT, but this is too good not to share: From top-ranked reader comment on NYTimes story about how Poppy Bush does not understand why Jeb! is having such a tough ride of it; what’s happened to the party?: by commenter AR:

    The Bushes are like silk stockings filled with mud, some of the nastiest campaigners out there.

    Silk stockings filled with mud. Best metaphor I’ve heard in a long while.

    Bush at 91: Irritated and Invigorated by ’16 Race

    Returning to the topic: Maureen O’Hara is four years older than GHWB. She is a silk stocking filled with grace, glamour and grit. And green eyes.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    Joe nails it:

    “Folks, it can and will get better,” Biden said. “There will come a day — I promise you, and your parents as well — when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen.”

  41. 41
    gogol's wife says:


    I know, why am I so sad? She lived a long and productive life. She was so beautiful, and what a beautiful speaking voice.

  42. 42
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Elizabelle: Napoleon said it about Talleyrand (and Napoleon stole it from somebody else) and he didn’t say “mud”.

    When was the last time anyone heard an MSMer bring up the sheer nastiness of Poppy Bush as a campaigner? I can’t think of an instance. I know he’s old and cute and jumps out of airplanes and the consensus, which I trust in this case, is that he thought the Iraq War was a disaster and knew it before we went in, but from Willie Horton to “card-carrying member of the ACLU”, there weren’t many roads to low for him. I was thinking the other day that there wasn’t as much of that in ’92, but I guess his hatchet-man had died and repented, and the crew that was left just wasn’t as good at it, and that campaign was kind of all flail all the time.

  43. 43
    gogol's wife says:

    Nobody was better than her at being a fiery wench in a pirate movie, not even Virginia Mayo.

  44. 44


    “Jamaica Inn” was one of those movies where the studio screwed up the renewal of the copyright, so it ended up in the public domain in lots of weird, chopped up versions. It’s definitely worth seeking out an “official” version to make sure you get a decent print with all (or at least most) of the original footage.

  45. 45
    cckids says:


    And that Lamott quote is a keeper, thanks!

    I love it, & read it regularly. She writes with real insight & clarity about loss, grief & survival. Another one I love doesn’t apply to my dad, but to others I’ve known:

    You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott

    To be used when Cheney finally kicks off & the media won’t say anything bad about him. I will step up!

  46. 46
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @cckids: Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Anne Lamott

    I had no use for William F Buckley, and apparently his wife was an even nastier bit of work, but even I felt a bit queasy reading what their son wrote about them after they died, which is how I know Mrs Buckley was a hateful, racist drunk.

    And if you take Cheney, I’ll be the Truth Teller when Poppy Bush dies. Preaching to this choir here. Maybe I”ll join twitter to be the skunk at that picnic. See if I can get blocked by Ron Fournier.

  47. 47
    Aleta says: Auld lang syne, played by By Bill Keith, who also died this week.

  48. 48
    MomSense says:


    I may do that as well but in the meantime I’m going to knit the green beret from the photo posted here.

  49. 49
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne (tablet):

    so it ended up in the public domain in lots of weird, chopped up versions.

    Yeh. My purchase of the DVD was a reminder that sometimes “bargain price” is not a good value. Made a similar mistake once with a cheap DVD version of “My Man Godfrey.”

    Ah, I see that “Jamaica Inn” recently was restored. And some of the problems with the production was due to the studio execs and also star Charles Laughton.

    The film differs in many respects from Daphne du Maurier’s 1936 novel, and that’s why she didn’t like it. The alterations were partly necessitated when Paramount said they would refuse to distribute an English movie in the USA if it violated the Production Code by having a clergyman as the villain (as in the book). Other changes were mandated by Laughton, who co-produced with Erich Pommer. Hitchcock felt like a hired hand forced to accept the creative decisions of others, and this didn’t endear the project to him. It couldn’t have helped his ego that Laughton’s instincts proved sound at the box office, but Hitch and du Maurier got their own back with the great success of Hitchcock’s next film, Rebecca. He later adapted one more du Maurier story, The Birds.

    Hitchcock himself disparaged the film, although he typically considered all his hits “successful” while his flops were “mistakes”. In this case, the film’s original critical and popular success has been forgotten.

    Ah, now a good opportunity to catch Maureen O’Hara in an early role.

  50. 50
    Aleta says:
    Celtic Women singing The Parting Glass

  51. 51


    You may have to watch “The Quiet Man” again. You know, to figure out if that’s regular moss stitch or double moss stitch, and does it have a pompon at the top like I vaguely remember. Inquiring knitters want to know!

  52. 52
    maya says:

    I had a crush on her as a young lad. How can any male not fall in love with a real redhead.

    My favorite: The Long Grey Line, with Tyrone Power. Excellent movie mainly about Marty something or other, but she was his Irish love.

    Side note; her sister, Margot Fitzsimmons, Maureen’s actual last name, was in IKWIG. And if you don’t know what that is, well, I just feel sorry for you.

  53. 53

    […] Rest in Peace, Maureen O'Hara » Balloon Juice […]

  54. 54
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    Sad news. She was one of the greats.

  55. 55
    Chris Landee says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:
    Being blocked by Ron Fourier is almost as great an honor as being on the Nixon enemies list.

  56. 56

    What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Especially for all those previous legends who left us golden gifts of creativity and artistry before they disappeared from this tiny Planet? I am simply saddened. Deeply saddened. But, considering the nature of this Art, we are at least left with a vast library of jewels in which they will always return to us, as young (or old), as vital and as talented as they were when they performed their roles in the first place. This is indeed the advantage we, the survivors have. We are left with a great talent school of immortal works. Just as great composers are remembered by their notes on paper and performed by some of the most talented musicians, these actors and actresses, will be remembered forever by their works on film or in digital form, through all the marvelous technical means we have today, and probably will develop even in the future. Despite the deep bitterness their loss leaves in our mouths, the fact that their memory will always be revived through their hard work left for us to cherish, should lift our spirits with a deep desire to follow on, and honor their efforts by trying to emulate them in commitment, dedication, passion and love for this art. Maureen O’Hara was one of the most known actresses of her era and despite not being your usual “sex symbol”, transformed the word femininity into a respectable, intelligent and highly regarded term. I can only tip my hat in front of such a great lady. She will always remain memorable in her roles, as well as the woman who did not flinch in front of even the hardest of men. It has been a honor to have her among us for so long. May you, Maureen FitzSimons, live in our hearts forever, and rest in peace, wherever your spirit is.

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