Maureen O’Hara, an Irish Starlet in Hollywood

Maureen O’Hara was born in Ranelagh, Dublin in 1920, she began her acting career by training in the Abbey Theatre. Charles Laughton spotted her and offered her a seven year contract with Mayflower Pictures, for whom she made her major screen debut in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn. Laughton then cast her opposite him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame as the heroine Esmeralda which was filmed at RKO studios in Hollywood.

At the outbreak of World War II, Laughton realising he could no longer film in London, sold her contract to RKO. She was cast in low budget films until John Ford cast her in How Green Was My Valley, which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1941, major roles in big movies ensued.

As colour films started to be produced, her haunting green eyes and her fiery red hair made her one of the most recognisable figures in the industry earning her the moniker The Queen of Technicolor. She became famous for her willingness to perform fist and swordfights, making her the perfect screen partner to the tough John Wayne, together they would star in five films including The Quiet Man. They became and remained firm friends, the couple became so popular that it was wrongly rumoured that they had secretly married.

She also shared the screen with Brian Keith, Jimmy Stewart, Anthony Quinn, Tyrone Power and John Payne. She retired from the movie business in the mid sixties but continued to star on television. She was married three times, to the film producer George H Brown, the director Will Price and a pioneer of transatlantic air travel, Charles F. Blair, Jnr.

She divides her time between Ireland, New York and the Virgin Islands.

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source: Russell Shortt,

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