ON THIS DAY: Icon Maureen O’Hara is born

Today, 17 August 2023, we celebrate the birthday of legendary Irish-American actress Maureen O’Hara.

ON THIS DAY: Icon Maureen O’Hara is born.

Maureen O’Hara is a name that is synonymous with the golden era of cinema. The Irish-born actress lived a wonderful life and worked a remarkable career.

On the anniversary of her birthday, we take a look back at her life, successes, best performances, and the indelible legacy she left behind.

The childhood of Maureen O’Hara – a rising star from the start

Maureen O Hara is the most famous Irish person from the 1940s decade.

Maureen O’Hara, née FitzSimons, was born on 17 August 2023, 103 years ago. She was born and raised in a Catholic family in Dublin.

She once said that she was “born into the most remarkable and eccentric family I could have possibly hoped for”.

From a very young age, it was clear that she wanted to be an actress. She began dancing at the age of five, and when she first read a poem on stage at school at six years old, she said she immediately loved performing in front of an audience.

O’Hara trained at the Rathmines Theatre Company from the age of ten and then at the iconic Abbey Theatre from 14 years old.

She was 17 years old when she went for her first screen test in London, for which she was adorned with ostentatious clothing and heavy makeup. The screen test was deemed unsatisfactory.

However, English actor Charles Laughton saw potential in the young Maureen O’Hara, and taken by her lack of nerves and confidence, he and his business partner, Erich Pommer, offered her a seven-year contract with their new company – Mayflower Pictures.

READ: Top 10 facts about Maureen O’Hara you never knew

Her career & most notable performances – iconic depictions

Her career and most notable performances.
Credit: imdb.com

Maureen O’Hara had her first major film breakthrough that year with Jamaica Inn, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and adapted from the 1936 Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name.

She starred alongside Charles Laughton and played the innkeeper’s niece. So pleased with her performance in this movie, O’Hara was cast in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, also starring Charles Laughton.

It was at this time that she made the move to Hollywood, California.

O’Hara would go on to have a string of notable performances, like How Green Was My Valley in 1941, Miracle on 34th Street in 1947, Sitting Pretty in 1948, and the iconic The Quiet Man, starring alongside John Wayne in 1952.

Since The Quiet Man was filmed in Ireland, in Cong, County Mayo, it holds a special place in many people’s hearts, and there are some notable filming locations that you can still visit today.

RELATED: The 10 best Maureen O’Hara movies of all time

Her legacy & later years – statues, memoirs and more

Her legacy and later years.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

The legacy of Maureen O’Hara can be felt all over the world today. From the famous The Quiet Man statue of O’Hara and John Wayne in Cong to her autobiography released in 2004, Tis Herself: A Memoir, there are traces of Maureen O’Hara everywhere.

In the latter years of her life, Maureen O’Hara settled in her incredible Lugdine Park home in West Cork in 2005.

She and her husband, who died in 1978 in a plane crash, had originally purchased the property in 1970.

O’Hara lived out most of the end of her days in West Cork before eventually moving back to the States to live with her grandson and his family in Idaho in 2014.

She died in her sleep a year later, on 24 October 2015, at the age of 95, from natural causes.

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