Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Redhead of the Week

Born Maureen Fitzsimons, August 17, 1920, in Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland, film star and singer MAUREEN O'HARA is famous for playing fiercely passionate heroines. She worked many times with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne.

(I'm not asking.)

Maureen was accepted into the prestigious Abbey Theatre in Dublin at the age of 14. Not too many years later, actor Charles Laughton saw a London screen test, and believed Maureen had "something special." Her first major film was Jamaica Inn, (1939), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Laughton next cast her in the role of Esmeralda opposite him in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, to be filmed at RKO Studios in Hollywood that same year. Hours before boarding the Queen Mary to sail to America, a young man from the studio, George Brown, who had a crush on her, convinced Maureen to marry him. Mom and Laughton found out, whisked her away from altar to boat.

The marriage was never consummated and later annulled. George was not happy.

After Hunchback, World War II began, and Laughton, realizing his studio could no longer film in London, sold her contract to RKO, where director John Ford cast her in How Green Was My Valley.

Bingo. Audiences loved her. I'm not the only guy who likes redheads.

Maureen says her first love is singing. In 1960 she starred on Broadway in the musical Christine and released two successful recordings, Love Letters from Maureen O'Hara and Maureen O'Hara Sings her Favorite Irish Songs. Throughout the 1960s she was a sought-after guest on musical variety shows, appearing with Perry Como, Andy Williams, Betty Grable and Tennessee Ernie Ford.

At the height of her career, Maureen was considered one of the world's most beautiful women.

She is also remembered for her chemistry with legendary John Wayne. She made five films with The Duke - Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Wings of Eagles, McLintock!, and Big Jake.

Maureen married her third husband, Charles Blair, in 1968. Blair was a pioneer of transatlantic aviation, a former Brigadier General of the US Air Force and a former Chief Pilot at Pan Am. A few years after her marriage to Blair, O'Hara for the most part retired from acting.

Blair died in 1978 when the engine of a Grumman Goose he was flying from St. Croix to St. Thomas exploded.

In 2004, Maureen O'Hara released her autobiography 'Tis Herself, published by Simon & Schuster. In the same year she was also honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy in her native Dublin, Ireland.

In 2006, Maureen O'Hara Blair attended the Grand Reopening and Expansion of the Flying Boats Museum in Foynes, Limerick, Ireland - as a patron of the Museum. A significant portion of the Museum is dedicated to her late Husband Charles Blair.

Thanks to Wikipedia, Maureen O'Hara, and all you fiery redheads.

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